For many Texans, football is life. If you’re a fan of football in our state, there’s a good chance you’re also a fan of America’s team – the Dallas Cowboys.
Which means you’re probably reeling at the possibility of not seeing star running back Ezekiel Elliott on the field for the beginning of the 2017 season. Why not? Because Elliott was suspended for “six games by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.”
This decision arrives after a 13-month long investigation into domestic violence accusations brought forth by Tiffany Thompson, Elliott’s former girlfriend. Elliott was never arrested or charged, and continues to vehemently deny Thompson’s allegations.
The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, however, says a player can be disciplined – even if he hasn’t been charged or convicted – as long as “the credible evidence establishes that you engaged in conduct prohibited by this personal conduct policy.”
Let’s look at Elliott’s case in more detail to determine if his current defense strategy to appeal his suspension is likely to be successful – and if you could potentially use the same strategy in a Texas court.
What Is Ezekiel Elliott Being Accused of?
Thompson is accusing Elliott of five domestic violence incidents that took place in July 2016 over a period of six days in Columbus, Ohio.
The NFL came to the decision to suspend Elliott after an independent four-person panel of medical and law enforcement personnel determined that he injured Thompson during three different incidents. The NFL also claims they have photo and digital evidence that shows Elliott “engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson.”
While every claim of domestic violence should be taken seriously, there are details in this case – especially concerning Thompson – that might raise a few red flags:
- Elliott has text messages from Thompson trying to get one of her friends to lie about the supposed assault.
- Thompson gave misleading testimony to the NFL’s lead investigator Lisa Friel, who is unable to endorse Thompson as a credible source.
- Thompson has also repeatedly threatened to ruin Elliott’s career and his life after he ended their relationship.
Although the NFL agrees that Thompson wasn’t truthful during her testimony, they are still backing their claim that Elliott committed domestic violence. This also comes after the Columbus City Attorney’s Office decision in September of last year not to press criminal charges against Elliott due to “conflicting and inconsistent information in the evidence.”
Since the NFL came out with their decision, Elliott expressed his feelings on Twitter, saying “I am both surprised and disappointed by the NFL’s decision today, and I strongly disagree with the League’s findings.”
Will Elliott’s Domestic Violence Defense Work for You?
A majority of domestic violence cases come down to “he said, she said” scenarios. If you can demonstrate that one of the parties is unreliable, their claims might not continue to be believed.
Elliott’s plan to appeal his suspension will be a direct attack on the credibility of Thompson as a witness. If Elliott and his legal defense team can show that Thompson is an unreliable and inconsistent source, then her claims of domestic violence can’t be seen as valid.
If you, like Elliott, have been accused of domestic violence, the credibility of your accuser can go a long way in court. If a jury can’t believe the person who is accusing you of domestic violence, then they shouldn’t be able to believe that domestic violence took place.
Reach out to an experienced Texas domestic violence attorney if you’re facing charges, and let’s hope we get to see Elliott run the ball on the football field early in the season.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.