Wednesday, July 17, 1996
Judge gives Michael Irvin strict guidelines,
By Steve Scott
The Dallas Morning News
(July 17, 1996)
DALLAS (KRT)- A day after pleading no contest to a cocaine-possession
charge in exchange for four years' probation, Michael Irvin learned
the full extent of the court's punishment Tuesday as a judge
ordered him to serve 800 hours of community service.
State District Judge Manny Alvarez also ordered Irvin to participate
in psychological counseling and to submit to a drug and alcohol
evaluation to determine how often he should be tested for drug
The judge also decreed that one-third of Irvin's community service
be devoted to volunteer work for local social service agencies.
"I want you to know and understand that this four years
is not going to be a cakewalk," Judge Alvarez told Irvin.
"It's something you're going to have to work at."
The judge told Irvin that for at least the first third of his
community service, "you might be doing maintenance work.
You might be doing landscaping. You're going to have to establish
yourself like anyone else would - from the bottom."
Until then, the judge said, Irvin would not be allowed to speak
to youth groups to discharge his service requirement.
"He's got to reach a point where he can be of some use talking
to kids," the judge said afterward. "At this point,
children don't want to talk to him. He's got to do something
to get back in favor."
The judge warned Irvin that the penalty for failing to meet the
terms of his probation could be a penitentiary sentence of up
to 20 years - the maximum for the second-degree felony charge.
"If you do everything I expect out of you ... you and I
won't have a problem," the judge said. "You understand
that, don't you?
"Yes sir," Irvin replied quietly.
If Irvin successfully completes the four-year term, no conviction
will appear on his record.
Judge Alvarez said Irvin could be released from probation after
having served one-third to one-half of his term, provided that
he is a model probationer.
Defense attorney Kevin Clancy noted that the 800-hour service
requirement was the maximum that can be assessed by law. He and
other defense attorneys said little else.
"The judge did what he thought was appropriate, and we respect
that," defense attorney Don Godwin said.
Later, Irvin spoke to reporters at the Cowboys' Valley Ranch
headquarters, apologizing to his family, fans and teammates.
He admitted he was wrong and said he would not report Wednesday
to training camp in Austin.
Instead, he said, he will spend time with his family in Miami.
Prosecutors said they were satisfied with the conditions imposed
by the judge but expressed doubts about Irvin's ability to carry
First Assistant District Attorney Norman Kinne said testimony
about Irvin's repeated drug use suggests that "he's going
to have to make a drastic change in his lifestyle if he's ever
going to hope to live out this probation."
Topless dancer Rachelle Smith testified before Judge Alvarez
last week that Irvin provided drugs for several all-night parties
and had tried to intimidate her into recanting her testimony.
Smith's boyfriend, former Dallas police Officer Johnnie Hernandez,
has been charged with trying to pay to have Irvin killed. Hernandez
was released from Lew Sterrett Justice Center on Tuesday after
posting bond on a charge of solicitation of capital murder.
The incident for which Irvin was charged took place March 4 at
the Residence Inn by Marriott, an extended-stay motel on Walnut
Hill Lane in Irving. Police responding to a disturbance call
just after midnight found 10.3 grams of cocaine, more than an
ounce of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in a room occupied
by Irvin, former Cowboys tight end Alfredo Roberts and two topless
Irvin and the dancers, Angela Beck and Jasmine Nabwangu, were
indicted on felony cocaine and misdemeanor marijuana possession
charges. Roberts was not indicted.
Judge Alvarez said Tuesday that all parties to the case remain
under a gag order that prohibits them from commenting about the
facts or circumstances. The order remains in place because Beck
and Nabwangu have yet to come to trial.
National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has begun
an investigation and can suspend any player who violates a drug
Irvin already has submitted to the evaluation and testing phases
in the league's substance-abuse program. He must take as many
as 10 random drug tests a month for the next two years. Players
not in the program are tested once annually.
If he fails a test or refuses to cooperate with the program,
he could be suspended for one season, in addition to whatever
penalty he faces from the legal system.
For the first time since his legal troubles began, Irvin was
accompanied in court Tuesday by his wife, Sandi, who sat in the
front row immediately behind her husband as the judge handed
down the sentence.
Irvin brought the couple's two daughters, 6-year-old Myesha and
8-month-old Chelsea, to court.
Irvin carried the youngest girl in his arms as he left the courthouse
Tuesday afternoon. Surrounded by television cameras as he prepared
to climb into his car, he waved to inmates shouting his name
from a jail tower overlooking the parking lot.
Kinne said that the plea agreement leaves Irvin "walking
around with the keys to the penitentiary in his pocket."
"Nobody else is going to put him in the penitentiary at
this point," Kinne said. "It's all up to him."
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