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Key Court Day For Burress Approaching

From ProFootballTalk:

Regardless of whether teams are interested in free-agent receiver Plaxico Burress, much could be learned about his availability to play football in 2009 when he returns to court on June 15 for a hearing in the pending criminal case against him.

Burress faces felony charges arising from possession of an unlicensed and loaded weapon in a Manhattan club.  The gun fired inadvertently while he was carrying it, and Burress was shot in the leg.

If convicted on the second-degree felony charge he currently faces, Burress would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 3.5 years.  Cases of this nature often are resolved via a guilty plea to a reduced charge, which entails a much shorter prison stay.

We’ve previously reported that Burress has rejected deals that would have allowed him to exit custody before the start of training camp.  At this stage of the offseason, it’s unlikely that such an arrangement would result in Burress being available for the full preseason preparations.

And so the challenge for his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, will be to finesse a trial date beyond the completion of the 2009 football season.  Whether the prosecution and/or the judge agrees with that approach remains to be seen.

Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, but they have no right to slam the brakes on the process to suit their employment or other interests.

So if Burress emerges from the June 15 hearing with a trial date of mid-February or later, teams with coaches and/or General Managers on the hot seat in 2009 might be interested in a one-year rental.  But if Burress ends up being faced with a September or October or November or December trial date, he’s likely to continue to be without a team.

Actually, a prompt trial date might be the best way to get Burress to take a deal.  And if the prosecutor would be willing to defer jail time until after the season, Burress might go for it.

The only problem with that approach, however, is that Burress undoubtedly would end up being suspended by the Commissioner after he pleads guilty.

Regardless of the manner in which this case unfolds, we’ll all know something more after the June 15 hearing.

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