Manziel admits: ‘I need to get my life in order’
Judge warns: Follow terms for assault charge dismissal.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel assured a Dallas County judge Tuesday he’s trying to turn his life around so a misdemeanor assault charge against him can be dismissed.
Manziel, 23, was charged with misdemeanor assault last year. His ex-girlfriend accused him of kidnapping, beating and threatening to kill her during a fight over another woman, which she said left her deaf in her left ear.
Last fall, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and Manziel’s legal team reached an agreement to dismiss the charge against him if he met certain conditions, such as proving he’d completed a substance abuse program. The DA’s office has said it could take up to a year for the charge to be dismissed.
Judge Roberto Cañas on Tuesday told Manziel that he is worried the quarterback isn’t taking his conditional agreement seriously because he missed a deadline to update the court about his progress.
The agreement with the DA’s office requires Manziel to take an anger management course; attend a domestic violence victim impact panel; and participate in either the NFL’s substance abuse program or go to a court-approved drug and alcohol rehab facility.
“Not everybody who comes through here gets this kind of opportunity, because right now, you’re in charge of what happens to your case,” Cañas told Manziel.
“If you decide not to follow the terms of the conditional dismissal, then basically what you’re saying to me is that you either want me to make a decision about your life, or you want six people whom you’ve never met to make a decision about your life,” the judge said.
The judge then asked Manziel to share his take on the case.
Manziel, standing before the judge, said he was cautious about working with the NFL because he doesn’t have as much trust in the league “based on past situations” and how it has treated players. Manziel said he now understands the timetable for his dismissal agreement.
“Everything has been going extremely smoothly, and my life is trending upward,” Manziel said, “so I don’t even want to let this get anywhere near the rabbit hole that you were describing. This situation is in my hands . ... I need to get my life in order. These are the things I need to do.”
The judge told Manziel he wants him to be successful in whatever he wants to do in life.
“But I need you to be successful in this conditional dismissal program, OK?” Cañas said toward the end of the hearing.
Manziel and his attorney, Jim Darnell, left the courthouse without saying much to the news reporters who followed them asking repeatedly for comment. And while many of the people in the courthouse didn’t seem to recognize Manziel, some of them stopped to take photos of him or yell his name as he walked by.
The former Cleveland Browns player shook the hand of a woman who shouted, “Quarterback, woohoo!” on his way out.
“I’m never washing my hand again,” the woman said later. “I might sanitize it, but I’m not going to wash it.”
The DA’s office has warned that the conditional dismissal agreement will be tossed if Manziel doesn’t complete all of its requirements within a year or if he is charged with another offense. If he doesn’t meet the conditions, he would be prosecuted on the Class A misdemeanor assault charge. The maximum punishment for a conviction on that charge is a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Dallas County prosecutors on the assault case say they plan to keep tabs on a separate investigation involving Manziel. Late last year, a bar employee in Austin sued Manziel in a Travis County court and accused him of punching him and breaking his nose. Austin police were investigating the report. It is unclear whether Manziel will face any charges in that case.
Manziel has had several public lapses in a four-year span. In the summer of 2012, just weeks before the start of what would be his Heisman Award-winning season at A&M, he was jailed after a fight in College Station’s nightclub district. He later reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to failing to properly identify himself.
By 2015, Manziel was playing pro football for the Browns. That February, the team said he had entered a treatment program. After leaving rehab that April, he apologized to the Browns and the “fans that I let down.”
Ex-Aggies QB Johnny Manziel (right) walks with lawyer Jim Darnell after a court hearing Tuesday in Dallas. Manziel told a judge he’s getting his life on track.