After poring over the article I posted about Mario Williams’ lawsuit in The Uglier Side Of The NFL, I became far more interested in the legal aspects of the lawsuit rather than the tabloid elements. Sure, it’s pretty entertaining reading about $785,000 engagement rings and all, but why not learn a bit while you’re rotting your brain?
Lawyer Tony Buzbee spoke to Buffalo Bills beat reporter Tim Graham and flew off the handle several times. Most notably Buzbee, speaking on behalf of ex-fiance Erin Marzouki, all but implied that Mario Williams has bipolar disorder. It’s rather questionable that a lawyer felt comfortable making such a diagnosis, considering doctors are hesitant even with formal training. Seeing as I have no knowledge of the law—other than breaking it—I have summoned my Bay Street lawyer to explain the various legal elements of this case, including Buzbee’s apparent dabbling in psychiatry. The following is a transcript of our conversation.
FYI: My Bay Street lawyer has helped me through many a legal pickle in my life. The fact that she got me off I’m walking the streets should be proof enough of her merits.
*I found out afterwards our conversation was billable and I can’t afford to use her real name.
JP Kaczur: Lawyer Tony Buzbee claims to have the case won in five ways. Is this possible in a case involving so much, in the words of Fred Durst, ‘he said/she said bullshit?’ Seems like garden variety chest thumping, but enlighten me if you will.
My Bay Street lawyer: It certainly is possible. In this case, it’s basically a property case so the question is whether it is a completed gift inter vivos. If he gave it to her repeatedly (Ed. Note: her words, not mine) especially on her birthday they can prove the elements in 5 ways. It’s more than possible. It’s a bit of bravado, but they do have a really good case.
JP Kaczur: Mr. Buzbee apparently is a part-time psychologist. From recovered text messages, he somehow managed to conclude that, “He (Mario Williams) vacillates between periods of deep lows and being very high on life.” Buzbee stops short of providing his professional diagnosis but certainly implies that Mario Williams has something akin to bipolar disorder–I swear there is a question here somewhere. Is this sort of armchair psychology considered apropos? Are there any rules against making out of wheelhouse claims like this?
My Bay Street lawyer: It’s probably unethical to imply the other party is mentally unstable without evidence. You maybe run the risk of being libel, or defamatory. It’s a ploy to encourage the Mario Williams side to settle.
JP Kaczur: Who watches the watchmen, lawyers the lawyers so to speak?
My Bay Street Lawyer: Us? We’re self-regulated. First day of law school you learn that we regulate ourselves.
JP Kaczur: Like prostitutes?
My Bay Street lawyer: Not quite. The majority of prostitutes are informally regulated. But now is neither the time nor place to discuss the sex trade or gender equality.
JP Kaczur: Sorry, go on, lawyers are self-regulated…
My Bay Street lawyer: There is nothing to stop us from rambling at will about things that we know nothing about. We are overly proud that we are the only self-regulated profession. This is a big deal among lawyers. We police ourselves. No one can stop us. We are out of control. It’s why everyone hates lawyers. We can do whatever we want.
JP Kaczur: Mario Williams claims he was taken out of context when he was making suicidal remarks to Erin Marzouki via text message. At first blush this doesn’t seem that insane to me, considering talk about killing yourself nonchalantly is kind of zeitgeist-y. If that’s the case, how do you prove context?
My Bay Street Lawyer: Williams will probably not have to ever admit this stuff into evidence. This isn’t really relevant to whether it was a completed gift. He had to disclose everything at discovery. He could try to frame the context but he is not legally bound. She is basically trying to extort him to get him to settle.
JP Kaczur: Another choice quote from Buzbee, “Our effort is not to embarrass him. It’s to defend ourselves. You want to call somebody you’ve been with for five years a thief, what do you expect to get in return?” If this isn’t to embarrass Williams then what’s the point?
My Bay Street lawyer: What struck me is her lawyer says well you know we are just trying to defend ourselves because he has made all these claims in his public pleadings. However, he neglects to mention rather conveniently that all pleadings are public. Williams is responding to the allegations in her statement of defence. What he alleges is just an element of his case. She had no intention to marry him, which means she couldn’t have accepted the gift and it’s still his. In doing so, according to her lawyer, that discredits her. But strictly legally speaking he’s protecting himself.
JP Kaczur: What do you predict will be the result?
My Bay Street lawyer: The Buffalo Bills and the NFL can’t be pleased that this in the media, and he likely isn’t wild about it either. If he has any sense, he’ll settle to keep his name out of the media any further. It’s obvious this girl is pushing for a settlement – it’s too expensive to take it to court and let the law settle it. I imagine she doesn’t have the resources to battle Mario Williams and co. She’ll likely get a settlement where she keeps the ring and is mildly compensated for legal costs. It’s really not a battle worth fighting for either side, but it’s clear the two parties have some issues to work out that the law can’t really help with.
JP Kaczur: On that note: thank you for your help. I will make sure to consult you before I put a ring on anyone.