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Jim Murray

Manuel Is Guilty of Contempt in Bad Jurisdiction

September 30, 1986|JIM MURRAY

Bailiff: All rise. Hear ye, hear ye. This court is now in session. The court of last resort, the kangaroo court, in and for the county of Los Angeles, the honorable Judge Lester Hayes presiding. Will counsel please approach the bench? Counselor, will you please explain this case to Judge Hayes?

Counselor: Yes. Your Honor, I am attorney F. Lee Bailout and I represent in this matter, in absentia, the defendant, one Lionel Manuel, of the New York football club, a Delaware corporation doing business as the New York Giants.

My client is employed as a wide receiver and part-time blocking back. It has come to my attention that he stands accused by your honor of contempt of court and has engaged my firm of Crooks, Tort and Gouge to defend in this matter.

The Court (Hon. Judge Hayes): So be it. Is this culprit--er, ah, defendant--in court?

Counselor: No, your Honor. He had an important business meeting at the Meadowlands this weekend and he begs the court's indulgence.

The Court: So be it. I find the defendant guilty and sentence him to four days in jail, after which he is to be hanged by the neck until he is dead, dead, dead.

Counselor: Wait a minute, your Honor! I must protest. It is highly irregular to sentence a man first without hearing the weight of the evidence!

The Court: My dear fellow, you will find this is accepted legal practice in Judge Hayes' court. The verdict first, the trial afterward. We take our legal precedence from the Queen of Hearts in "Alice In Wonderland."

Besides, who do you think you are dealing with here, Rose Bird? I say, off with his head! Just for the record, so we can notify next of kin, what is your client's name? I'll never forget his number.

Counselor: Lionel Manuel, your Honor. Now, I must place before the court his plea of innocence to this charge.

The Court: Innocence? Innocence? That's what's wrong with this country! Capital crimes go unpunished! This man committed one of the most heinous offenses in the annals of high crimes and misdemeanors in this country! This man makes Al Capone look like a public benefactor! This man made a scapegoat out of one of the finest men and football players of this century, the idol of millions!

Counselor (startled): Who?

The Court: Me!

Counselor: Your Honor, I must protest. My client was only following orders!

The Court: Hah! The Goering defense! Well, it won't work in this courtroom, my man! You're dealing with hanging Judge Hayes here, not some wimp appointed by Gov. Moonlight. I tell you this man's got to swing! We'll read him his rights later.

Counselor: Your Honor, I must protest this high-handed judicial behavior! It's outrageous. What did my client do? In heaven's name!

The Court: Do? Do? I'll bloody well tell you what he did! Made a fool of this court is what he did. Right there in front of 71,164 witnesses. He sneaked in behind this court twice in the end zone and caught touchdown passes. It's the most shocking display of contempt of court this century has seen. No one does that to Judge Hayes with impunity. These are crimes against humanity we're talking about here. This is not double-parking on Rodeo Drive.

Counselor: But your Honor, he's paid to do that! It's his duty!

The Court: There you go again! We hold people accountable for their own actions here.

But there's more. This man, this Victor Emmanuel, had the temerity to tell the press later that we were lax in our duties. I believe his exact quotes were that we were "not as physical as" we were expected to be. I believe he said, "Lester Hayes is a kind of cheap-shot artist . . . but he didn't do anything dirty all afternoon."

He went on to say: "We were preparing ourselves for intimidation. I anticipated that Hayes would a least hit me as I was runing through the end zone. I sort of juggled the ball waiting for him. But he never even touched me."

Now, my dear fellow, that's not only contempt, that's slander. That is compounding a felony.

Counselor: But that is your fault, surely, not his!

The Court: My dear fellow, this court has two Super Bowl rings and has been in 13--count 'em--playoff games. This court does not let under-sized receivers sashay around in an end zone unchallenged. Your client is a menace to society. I expect Chief Justice Rehnquist to uphold me in this all the way. He'll understand.

Counselor: But don't you think the punishment's a bit severe?

The Court: It's academic. This court made a bad mistake last week with this defendant, Emmanuel.

Counselor: His name is Manuel, Your Honor. Lionel Manuel, M-A-N-U-E-L.

The Court: So be it. It's academic. Anyway, this court allowed this Emmanuel to escape with all his ears, and eyes and teeth last week. He was able to blow his nose when he left here, he was able to eat with a fork and not a straw.

He was conscious and coherent when he left the field. He was clutching the game ball. Usually the guy who gets that has to have the nurse lift him so he can see it after a Raider game.

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