Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out






      NEW YORK, NY (date) -- Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s political

grandstanding and calls for him to get the maximum sentence, a self-

inflicted bullet hole in his leg, an illegal gun possession charge, his arrogant,

knuckleheaded behavior on and off the field, and a publicity-conscious

District Attorney looking to set him up as the poster-boy for illegal hand gun

possession in hopes of warding off others who would conceal an illegal

weapon, the most important argument Plaxico Burress’ attorney must make

in his defense is that his client was carrying the gun for self-defense, and

believed he was at risk of serious injury or death, the very real dangers a star

professional athlete faces every day on the streets of New York, according to

Steve Brill, a prominent New York criminal and illegal hand gun possession

defense attorney.

      “If Burress was my client,” Brill said, “I would immediately discuss

the self-defense matter with the DA and make them see that my client felt

his life was in danger and that carrying a gun was his best and only option to
protect his person and property. I would drive home the fact that Burress did

not possess the gun with the intention of using it unlawfully.”

      Brill emphasized he would make sure that the DA is aware of Richard

Collier, a player for the Jacksonville Jaguars who was shot 14 times, lost his

leg and was paralyzed as a result of the shooting. And of Sean Taylor, a

player for the Washington Redskins, who was sleeping when 3 individuals

broke into his home and shot and killed him. And of Darrent Williams, a

player for the Denver Broncos, who was shot and killed while he was sitting

inside his limousine.

      “Athletes have real fears based on real cases,” Brill said. “The DA

must be convinced that Burress had these fears and possessed a gun to

protect himself from dangerous people who target famous people, like NFL

football players.”

      To have any credibility with the DA, and probably later with a judge

and jury if his case goes to trial, Burress’ public image could also work

against him and might need some polishing.

      “He needs to say and do things that will make him look remorseful

and willing to do what he can to make it right,” Brill said. “Whenever he’s

in public I would have him surrounded by his family as much as possible.

And while it is unconventional to have a client make a statement, in this case
he cannot deny he had a gun, so I would have him make as many statements

as possible about his fear of injury and remorse for causing this spectacle.

      “Remember,” he emphasized, “intending to use a weapon for self-

defense, when there exists a risk of serious injury or death, is not an

unlawful intention. Burress could still be convicted of possession of a

weapon, but that is a less serious offense with less jail time.”

      As for trial tactics, Brill has some advice for Ben Brafman, Plaxico

Burress’ defense attorney:

    There is no question there will be a tendency for the DA to treat

      Burress disproportionately than other non-celebrity defendants. It

      should be Brafman’s goal to persuade the DA from caving in to

      outside pressure. He needs to hammer home the fact that it is unfair

      and contrary to the mission of the DA’s office to make an example out

      of Burress.

    Have Burress maintain as low a profile a possible so as not to tarnish

      his public image any further.

    Start right now preparing his client on how to best convey his mental

      state when he was in that nightclub. There are some cases where the

      criminal defense attorney knows he’s not putting his client on the

      stand. Then there are some cases where the attorney doesn’t know
         whether, or not, their client should testify. Then there are cases like

         this one involving Burress, where he must testify in order give his

         defense lawyer a much better chance at winning.

         Brill also warns Brafman to be aware of the impact of the media on

judges and juries in high-profile criminal cases like this one.

         “In the fight between the media and protecting your client, the media

always wins,” Brill explained. “Instead of fighting the frenzy, I would join

it by using the media to show my client in the best possible light.

         “It will be a tough balance for Brafman,” Brill added. “On the one

hand he needs to justify his client’s possession of the weapon as a necessity

due to his celebrity. On the other hand, when it comes time for punishment,

he wants the DA to treat Burress like any other defendant. That’s a hard


         As for Mayor Bloomberg, Brill said he thinks it was inappropriate for

the Mayor to say what he said about Burress. “Cleary,” Brill said, “the

Mayor used the Burress matter to make a statement that would further him

politically. The Mayor should respect the judicial process and let it work.

By him getting involved, it may put pressure on the DA’s office, which in

turn is unfair to Burress. By the Mayor making his one-sided statements, he
has made himself a factor in influencing an impartial jury. In any case that

is wrong.”


To top