The only good thing about Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey being served Sunday afternoon with a grand jury subpoena is that it temporarily took the focus off the fact that the Dolphins, who were undefeated after the first three games of the season, have dropped four straight. Pouncey, who was served by Massachusetts State Police, will now be required to appear as a witness before the grand jury investigating the case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez case. Pouncey and Hernandez were college teammates at my alma matter, University of Florida.
Law enforcement is reportedly interested in Hernandez’s alleged involvement in interstate gun trafficking in at least three states: Massachusetts, New York and Florida. No one knows yet whether Pouncey had any involvement in Hernandez’s alleged wrong doing. Police are allegedly focusing on “multiple transactions that involve him and Hernandez.” Pouncey isn’t commenting just yet.
So what does this mean? Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that Pouncey is a suspect and/or has done anything wrong. Nor does it mean that Pouncey will ever be charged with a criminal offense. Rather, it simply means that law enforcement believes that he has information that will be helpful to the grand jury in deciding what charges, if any, should be filed against Hernandez.
I’ve represented many people who receive similar subpoenas. The first thing that I do is speak with my client (in this case, that would be Pouncey…still waiting for the call to be hired) and determine everything. What was his involvement, if any with Hernandez? Did he play any role in any potential criminal offense? What does he believe he has to offer law enforcement? Next, I advise him how to proceed in front of the grand jury.
I would advise him that the law doesn’t permit me, or any attorney, to physically be inside the grand jury room. We can sit outside of the room, ready to assist our clients, but they don’t let us in. A client can leave the stand and consult with us outside of the courtroom and then return to the stand to respond to the question.
I often have clients “plead the fifth,” refusing to answer questions “on advice of counsel” when, in any forseeable way, their words could adversely be used against them. Does it look bad? No, but who cares. I wouldn’t want my client to assist the government in any way in building a criminal case against them. Also, lying in front of the grand jury is a serious criminal offense. My goal is to do all I can to protect my clients.
For Pouncey, I would advise him to run, not walk to an experienced and zealous criminal defense attorney, to assist him through this. I would encourage him to take very seriously the fact that he received this subpoena and is now compelled to provide sworn testimony. With proper legal counsel, hopefully, he’ll get through this, protecting his interests, and get back to focusing on how to start winning some more football games.