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NFL Quarterback Turns to Longtime Lawyer After Dogfighting ChargesJust call Lawrence H. Woodward Jr. the Vick brothers' family lawyer. In the good times and, more recently, in a string of legal troubles that have entangled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and his younger brother, former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Marcus Vick, Woodward has stepped in to represent them. So when a Virginia federal grand jury indicted Michael Vick on charges associated with the illegal operation of an interstate dogfighting ring, it's only natural that Vick would turn to Woodward.
Daily Report2007-07-19 12:00:00 AM
Just call Lawrence H. Woodward Jr. the Vick brothers' family lawyer.
In the good times and, more recently, in a string of legal troubles that have entangled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and his younger brother, former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Marcus Vick, Woodward has stepped in to represent them.
So when a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted Michael Vick on Tuesday on charges associated with the illegal operation of an interstate dogfighting ring, it's only natural that Vick would turn to Woodward, who has represented him throughout the grand jury's investigation.
Woodward, 50, is a partner at the Virginia Beach, Va., firm of Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock where he specializes in criminal trial defense, medical malpractice, personal injury, entertainment law and sports law. He is certified as an agent with the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, according to the firm's Web site.
Often partnering with the firm's senior name partner, Thomas B. Shuttleworth II, Woodward has represented, among others, Denver Nugget Allen Iverson; New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress; Olympic track-and-field gold medalist Latasha Colander; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson; former University of Virginia athletes Courtney Alexander, Elton Brown, Harold Deane and Antwoine Womack; and Oakland Raider running back LaMont Jordan, according to the law firm's hometown newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, and the Roanoke Times in Virginia.
Woodward's stable of star athletes -- and some of his clients' high-profile mischief -- have landed his name in media Rolodexes nationwide and garnered him appearances on national news shows.
In 2004, when Michael Vick signed a $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons that was at that time the richest in NFL history, Woodward -- along with Vick's agent, Joel Segal -- was by Vick's side.
When Nike subsequently offered Vick a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal to promote a shoe they dubbed the Zoom Vick III, Woodward, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was there, too.
Woodward has defended Vick, and his younger brother, Marcus, in difficult circumstances, too.
In 2006, Woodward confidentially settled a suit against Michael Vick filed by a woman who claimed he had infected her with genital herpes. The lawyer also successfully fended off criminal charges against the star quarterback after Vick was stopped at the Miami International Airport last January and reluctantly surrendered a water bottle containing a secret compartment. Authorities initially claimed that the bottle's compartment contained what appeared to be marijuana residue -- an allegation that police eventually said was untrue.
Since April, Woodward has been Vick's legal pointman in the investigation of an illegal, interstate dogfighting operation based at a home that the former Virginia Tech star owns in Surry County, Va.
But Woodward has also been kept busy defending Marcus Vick from criminal charges that were first levied against him when he was a football player at his older brother's alma mater. After the younger Vick was accused of having sex with a minor, Woodward negotiated a "no contest" plea in September 2004 on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The Virginia Beach attorney also defended the younger Vick on reckless driving charges and marijuana possession and in a $6 million civil sexual battery suit, according to ESPN reports. In 2006, after Virginia Tech kicked him off the football team for unsportsmanlike conduct, Vick was charged with brandishing a gun. Woodward defended him against those charges, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
That same year Woodward was the younger Vick's agent in negotiating an NFL contract with the Miami Dolphins, national news organizations reported. In May the Dolphins released the younger Vick.
Harvey L. Bryant III, commonwealth attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, said he has matched legal wits with Woodward both as a state prosecutor and as a former federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney for Virginia's Eastern District. Woodward, he said, is a man of integrity with an excellent legal reputation that extends to his firm.
"He is an excellent attorney. He is well-prepared. He gets to the point, doesn't waste people's time or money," Bryant said.
In defending Michael Vick against the federal charges, "Woodward's main challenge will come from the current U.S. Attorney of Virginia's Eastern District, Chuck Rosenberg," Bryant continued. Rosenberg "I'm sure is personally involved in the decision-making on the indictment so that they will be very well prepared and have great facts," the state prosecutor said. "It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, Mr. Woodward can do for his client in this particular situation."