Things just get curiouser and curiouser, or so it seems in the latest public release of documents in the Florida State University “Title IX-mandated investigation of the Jameis Winston sexual assault case,” per one story (of hundreds) shared by Tom Ley on Deadspin.com on Sept. 25, 2014. The relevant item of note is Winston’s attorney’s latest tweet directed toward the public in general, and opposing counsel presumably in particular. Since when does a high-dollar attorney with a gold-plated client list need to turn to “trial by publication” via social media outlet, e.g., Twitter?
Take a closer look at what Wm. David Cornwell, Esq. proffers on behalf of his client, chronologically via his Twitter account (sic):
Sept. 20 “The voyeuristic world watches the development of a young man n then attacks him 4 not yet being as responsible as a grown man should be.”
Sept. 23 “Today, will advise FSU that JW will cooperate with Title 9 investigation. Looks forward to clearing his name.”
Sept. 24 “Tries to extort a 20yr old college student for $7million ….and I’m unprofessional. #priceless”
Sept. 24 “Hmmmm…why no denial of $7million demand?#sirewalterscottandtangledwebs”
Sept. 24 “Will provide FSU with evidence exposing latest their latest lie.” (sic)
Sept. 24 “tomahawknation.com/2014/9/24/6840…”
Who exactly is William David Cornwell, Sr., Esq. and how is it that he came to represent the Heisman Trophy winning student-athlete at Florida State University? Two web sites help answer that question. Cornwell is a partner specializing in business transactions and sports, media and entertainment at the law firm Gordon Rees. His corporate biography includes, “He was recently appointed as the Executive Director of the National Football League Coaches Association, representing the interests of nearly 500 assistant coaches in the NFL.” Are you impressed yet?
But wait, there’s more. In an interview published just today on Black Enterprise: Wealth for Life, Mr. Cornwell responds to a question about some of his clients:
I have represented many high profile athletes from Howie Long, to Greg Anthony, Ben Roethlisberger, and Reggie Bush, as well organizations in sports such as the NFL and the sports trading card and memorabilia company, the Upper Deck Company, at a time when sports trading cards were one of the hottest products in sports licensing. When I was General Counsel at Upper Deck, we generated in excess of $300 million per year selling paper with pictures on it.
Well, all that’s nice and everything but for one day, Sept. 24, in four tweets, Mr. Cornwell devoted his entire Twitter wisdom to the case of his most recent client. But who’s paying the bills? When your clients are in the seven-figure income range, can you afford to work pro bono? Sure. Will you? Maybe, maybe not. Sadly, there’s no new tweet today from Mr. Cornwell, on behalf of his most well-known client, and 4.761 followers were likely so hoping for one. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day, particularly as a new news cycle will have kicked in.
Ordinarily one might choose the word “embattled” to describe the Heisman Trophy holding Seminole, but Mr. Winston seems not to have missed a beat, except for last Saturday’s game for something that many rabid Seminoles fans are calling a “non-issue.” And, they’re being a little testy about their proclamations of support for Mr. Winston. Good on ‘em! Those die-hard Noles fans will accept any behavior as long as they win.
Mr. Winston didn’t suffer any lack of television exposure during his suspension game, as he dressed in full pads and worked out with the team prior to the game. Although FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t seem happy to see Mr. Winston in pads, sports journalists are divided as to Jimbo’s genuine reaction, whether he was annoyed that Mr. Winston didn’t seem to “get it” that he was suspended, or that he was annoyed that journalists would see the Heisman-trophy holding sophomore in pads. So, in order to help the undecided public along, all weekend long last weekend, rather than the highlights of Sean Maguire’s game, viewers got to watch Mr. Winston in pads, out of pads, back in pads, and back out of pads, and see Jimbo Fisher turn his head to Mr. Winston, then away again toward the camera, and then back to Mr. Winston again.
At any rate, Mr. Winston returned from the tunnel without pads, after working out with the team, on television, and he was in his uniform shirt. Again, Mr. Winston didn’t suffer from lack of exposure for his current Heisman Trophy candidacy as he was the subject of extensive camera time, what with running up and down and up and down the sidelines rooting for his team.
No, that penalty wasn’t too tough on Mr. Winston because as soon as Monday morning rolled around, Coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Mr. Winston would be starting the next game, business as usual at FSU. And, on Monday, Sept. 22, Tomahawk Nation shared Sean Maguire’s dad’s comments on Mr. Winston, all honor and glory that they were in behalf of Mr. Winston. It conceivably could make you sick simultaneously as it makes you sad that–whether or not the sentiments were heartfelt on the part of the Maguire family–the comments of pride and congratulations did not, instead, focus on how proud they were of their own son’s performance in his first time leading the team to victory, with the support of the offense, defense, kicking team, and special teams on the field.
That is a factor that no one seems to appreciate still, yet, at all: no one on the Florida State University Seminoles football team matters except Jameis Winston. How skewed is that thinking? How embarrassing is it for an institution of higher learning? What, again, is being taught, inside and outside the classrooms, to the Seminoles about life, values, standards, and privileges of celebrity afforded to one, in favor of many?
Now “trial by Twitter” is not anything new, nor is it new to Mr. Winston in particular. In fact, if you are keeping score at home, Mr. Winston was represented previously by attorney Tim Jansen, who on Dec. 8, 2013 took to the tweet-machine to call out a reporter who dared to ask Mr. Winston about the sexual assault investigation.
Travis Waldron published some of Mr. Jansen’s tweets on the web site Think Progress on Dec. 9, 2013, just a fast nine months ago that complain against ESPN reporter Heather Cox. Of the former attorney’s most erudite tweets, separated by an hour and some change, they read: (sic)
Heather Cox was classless and unprofessional after the game. Trying to ambush a 19 year after the game with a flury of inappropriate ques” (Dec. 8, 2013; 6:46 a.m.)
“@heatherespn when u realize ur actions were improper u can make amends. Please write me a note to Jameis and his family to apologize.” (Dec. 8, 2013; 7:57 a.m.)
Let’s review, Mr. Winston’s old attorney, Mr. Jansen’s, second tweet received 209 retweets and was favorited 124 times, compared to his tweet when maybe a few folks were still asleep, as it received 101 retweets and 78 favorites. Good to know. Now, even though Mr. Jansen is not representing Mr. Winston on this particular case any longer, he has plenty to say on Twitter.
What’s really relevant is that both attorneys use age as the excuse for the behavior of their client for the same incident, which has now aged a year, thanks to the stalling around and delay tactics plays executed on the field of higher education because it’s all just one big game anyway, right? The let’s make sure we “Let Mr. Winston keep the Heisman Trophy” game and then the “Let’s keep Mr. Winston on the playing field no matter what game,” but higher education is not meant to be a game. It is theoretically the imparting of knowledge, values, and conditions of higher learning wherein matters important to adults are taught, tested, and validated, generation after generation and where research is ongoing to further knowledge of same. None of that is happening on any truly academic level at all. Clearly, that’s incidental to football, and that’s a national problem, not just Florida State’s problem.
Mr. Jansen is whining on Twitter about his 19-yr (old is implied) client and Mr. Cornwell is proffering supporting words for his 20yr old (spacing in context). So, the public is meant to focus on Mr. Winston’s age. Was that the charge and mission of the Heisman Trophy, as well? Is it the mission of the FSU administration to take age into consideration and offer carte blanche again? Oh wait, there’s still this annoying Title IX-mandated investigation of the Jameis Winston sexual assault case.
Mr. Cornwell apparently can write letters and tweet, too. What he did write, to unnamed FSU administrators, as reprinted in Deadspin today, includes an excerpt regarding the attorney representing the (young woman, let’s be fair and mention “young” here too) had “demanded $7,000,000 to settle potential claims”:
The settlement demand was immediately rejected. Ms. Carroll was advised that Mr. Winston would not assume FSU’s and the TPD’s alleged liability, he would vigorously defend any claims against him, and he would assert his own claims against [the accuser] and, possibly, FSU and law enforcement for conducting their investigations in a manner that left room to speculate that he had raped [the accuser].
Then, Ms. Carroll’s attorneys released a reply, also printed in the same Deadspin story:
The facts that Mr. Cornwell chose not to disclose are that it was he himself who reached out to our client’s former counsel Patricia Carroll to discuss paying off our client. Patricia Carroll didn’t’ even know who David Cornwell was until he called. Mr. Cornwell then himself flew down from Atlanta to negotiate with Ms. Carroll. “Settlement discussions were immediately unproductive as Cornwell was crude and insulting going so far as to say ‘your client likes to (expletive) football players,'” they added. “When told that the client’s main concern was not money but that Winston be held accountable for his actions, Cornwell threatened to sue our client and her parents for civil racketeering in an effort to intimidate them into staying quiet.”
There are millions of dollars at stake here, and they all involve more questions than answers. There’s a litany of offenses that longtime, tunnel-visioned and less erudite “Noles fans” will claim “but he’s never been charged, he’s never been charged” will rise up and say in defense of their (current) Heisman Trophy winner, who is still in good academic standing at Florida State, and in present running for next year’s Heisman, given his quarterback talents continue in the same exceptional skill they did last year, as he’s (as Jimbo says) the FSU starting quarterback this week. He can wear pads and warm up with the team when he’s suspended, and be defended by the father of the player who stood in for him during his suspension.
And, there are millions of dollars at stake floating around the cosmos—there’s the millions conceivably to be paid as a settlement to the wronged party in the law suit; there’s millions of dollars of endorsements potentially dwindling away from Mr. Winston, as his ability to sell even so much as a candy bar or a shoelace to millions of little children who look up to NFL stars is purposefully being dragged into sinking sand, day by day. All the millions of dollars of potential future income are predicated, of course, upon being drafted.
Then there’s how many billable hours being racked up by at least, now two, attorneys in the past ten months in defense of Mr. Winston against charges filed or issues discussed in and out of court (and or dismissed) against Mr. Winston, who still retains his Heisman Trophy. When the board members of the Heisman Trust read of attorney Cornwell’s activities, does that make them more or less likely to discuss his continued retention of the highest award given to a student-athlete? Well, Mr. Winston’s attorney’s comments made the Washington Post today, too, so the subject is not quite going away outside Tallahassee. Will administrators ever apply the FSU student code of conduct to Mr. Winston, or have they already done so, and determined it applies to all students except for all those possessing a Heisman Trophy? That could be. Asked and answered. Fine.
Two questions continue to be unanswered in the media thus far: (1) what’s Mr. Winston’s course load this semester? It must be a challenge to keep up studies, practice, game day, and a reported 3.4 GPA as well as these other challenges. (2) Who is paying for Mr. Winston’s attorneys? The first question can be answered by Florida State University’s administrators, who continue to remain silent beyond the major judgment brought about wherein Mr. Winston’s half-game suspension was upped to a full game. Perhaps FSU officials would be able to answer the second question. Someone should. This is supposed to be higher education, and Florida State’s ability to attract quality candidates in future top-ranked national-caliber athletes is just one thing depending on the outcome.