As the resident lawyer contributing to Arrowhead Addict in my free time, I thought it might be best to provide an update to Chiefs Kingdom regarding the K.C. Chiefs and their legal situation(s) as we gear up for the start of training camp.
It seems like the Chiefs have some legal issue that arises every offseason that causes us heartburn wondering whether a player will be available for the season. It leads to start looking at temporary replacements and/or long-term solutions, and this offseason was no different. This time around, there is one player and one former coach who I want to take a look at: Frank Clark and Britt Reid.
As many of you know, Clark is facing felonies related to two gun charges that happened this offseason, one in March and one in June. Most recently, the headlines blared that Frank was facing three years in prison stemming from the March incident while questions still floated about the June charges. I spoke about this on the Arrowhead Addict podcast this past week because we, as a fan base, tend to see those headlines and think worst case scenario.
I see things a bit differently. Legally, Clark is probably not going to serve any time. The three-year term is a worst case scenario, and I would venture to guess that it will not play out that way. I think his attorneys will negotiate with the prosecutor to get a fine and/or probation for Clark, which means he won’t miss any playing time.
People are pointing to the October date as a time when we may get answers. The reality is that those dates often get pushed—especially with the affects of COVID-19. Courts are backlogged and parties in negotiations often work together to push dates to a mutually convenient time. While I don’t think a California prosecutor is particularly concerned with Clark’s NFL schedule, they will probably accommodate a request to move any in-person court dates.
Ultimately, I don’t foresee Clark missing any playing time this year. Most notably, Andy Reid said Frank will be at training camp despite his arrests. If he misses any time as a result of these gun charges, it probably won’t be until next year—and even then, I think it is a long shot he misses any time at all.
If we look at Deshaun Watson’s situation, he is facing a host of civil cases stemming from alleged sexual assault. Watson hasn’t even been placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. While civil cases and criminal charges are different, it would be very difficult to justify suspending Clark for a period of time due to gun charges while Watson is able to take the field.
Until Clark’s (almost inevitable) plea agreement is entered, we will likely not hear anything. Negotiations with the prosecutor will happen behind closed doors, and until something is entered by the court or someone speaks, we won’t know anything. So, as a word of caution, don’t worry about those “Frank faces 3 years in prison” claims. It’s highly unlikely and largely won’t impact this season.
I know Britt Reid isn’t on the Chiefs staff anymore, but it is certainly something that Chiefs fans are interested in. Britt is Andy Reid’s son and he was on the Chiefs coaching staff when he allegedly drove drunk, crashed into another vehicle and severely injured multiple people including a young girl who is facing lifelong injuries and damages as a result of the crash.
On Thursday morning, KMBC reported that Reid’s defense attorneys and the prosecutors met with the judge assigned to his case and informed the judge that they needed more time before they were able to set a trial date. He is set to appear again in September where they will likely set a trial date. Additionally, it appears that preliminary negotiations for a plea deal have begun. While neither the prosecutors nor the defense attorneys are willing to discuss those negotiations and where the punishment might end up, they are in talks.
This is not surprising. Often both sides will request more time to conduct discovery, exchange documents, and interview witnesses before they are willing and able to set a trial date. Given that it appears they will be ready to set a date in September, Reid likely will not see a trial, if it proceeds, until early 2022. Ultimately, I think it is more likely than not that a plea agreement will be reached that involves serving jail time and paying money—restitution—for the damages he caused.