This March 7, 2011 file photo shows NFL Football player and reality television star Chad Johnson and Evelyn Lozada attending Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Fun Fearless Males of 2011 event in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
by Curt Anderson
AP Legal Affairs Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Former NFL star Chad Johnson was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail for a probation violation in a domestic violence case by a judge who angrily rejected a no-jail plea deal after Johnson playfully slapped his attorney on the backside in court.
Johnson, known as Chad Ochocinco for his jersey number in Spanish during his playing days, had reached a deal with prosecutors calling for community service and counseling instead of jail. Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh said she would tack on an additional three months’ probation because Johnson had failed to meet with his probation officer during three previous months.
It was all set until Johnson, when asked by McHugh if he was satisfied with his lawyer Adam Swickle, gave the attorney a light swat on the rear — as football players routinely do to each other on the field. The courtroom erupted in laughter and at that McHugh said she wouldn’t accept the deal.
“I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this?” McHugh said, slapping the plea deal document down on her desk. “The whole courtroom was laughing. I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.”
Johnson, 35, tried to apologize and insisted he meant no disrespect. Johnson was on probation after pleading no contest to head-butting his then-wife, TV reality star Evelyn Lozada, during an altercation last August. She quickly filed for divorce after barely a month of marriage and Johnson, a six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, was immediately released by the Miami Dolphins. He didn’t play at all last season.
“This is your courtroom. I have no intent to make this a joke. It’s not funny,” Johnson told the judge “My life is in a shambles right now and I try my best to laugh and keep a smile on my face.”