There is no doubt that the video released by TMZ showed a frightening display of domestic violence by Ray Rice. The question is, why the change in policy by the NFL. Mr. Rice admitted guilt, entered a plea, and accepted responsibility for his actions. The NFL suspended him for two games. Then, the full video was released and Mr. Rice was fired. Should NFL players be treated differently?
First , I do not condone domestic violence. Domestic violence charges are a serious problem in our country and in our courts.
The criminal process works. Mr. Rice and Ms. Janay Palmer were both arrested for simple assault. Later, the charge against Ms.Palmer was dismissed and more serious charges were brought against Ray Rice. A plea was entered. If the diversionary program is completed, Mr. Rice’s criminal record will be expunged. Connecticut criminal defense lawyer Norm Pattis opined that the criminal court process worked but the NFL made a knee jerk reaction .
Under Tennessee law, Mr. Rice may have had the same result. In Tennessee, Mr. Rice would have been charged with aggravated assault. If he had no prior convictions, he would be eligible for judicial diversion under T.C.A. 40-35-313. Once Mr. Rice completed the terms of probation, which usually include domestic violence classes, he would be eligible to have it expunged from his record.
Was Ray Rice guilty of domestic violence? Yes. Were his actions despicable? Yes. Did the NFL change position due to a public relations nightmare? Yes.