June 12, 2012 - 12:50 pm
Two powerhouse lawyers exchanged verbal blows Tuesday during a heated argument over champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., who wants out of jail after serving 13 days of a three-month sentence for domestic battery.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa said she will rule Thursday on an emergency motion filed by Mayweather’s lawyers, who want him to complete his sentence on house arrest because "inhumane" jail conditions are causing his physical condition to deteriorate and threatening his fighting career.
During the 25-minute contentious hearing, veteran defense attorney Richard Wright argued with prosecutor Lisa Luzaich over whether the conditions of Mayweather’s sentence should be changed.
Wright said the boxer is "being treated differently through no fault of his own" but rather because Las Vegas police have isolated him because of his celebrity status.
"He is being unfairly, disproportionately punished, and there are remedies for it," Wright said. "I’m not asking to change the rules for Floyd Mayweather. The rules are right in the statute and available to act fairly for everyone. And that’s all he is asking."
Wright presented several sentence modifications, which included full-term house arrest or serving three days a week in the jail and the remainder on house arrest.
Luzaich struck back, blaming Mayweather’s deteriorating condition on his choice not to eat the food he is served and not to drink the tap water available in his cell because he prefers bottled water. She added that there are plenty of exercises he can do in his cell to stay in shape, including pushups.
Luzaich said Saragosa already has accommodated Mayweather twice. She delayed his sentencing until after Christmas and New Year’s Eve so he could be with his children and then pushed back his jail sentence to June so he could keep a scheduled bout May 5.
"They just keep chipping away, chipping away, chipping away. The defendant’s problem is that he doesn’t get to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it," Luzaich said. "Well, it’s jail. Where did he think he was going? The Four Seasons?"
The former Olympian, who did not appear in court, is serving a 90-day jail sentence after pleading guilty for beating his ex-girlfriend in front of their children in September 2010. He began serving his time June 1.
Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief John Donahue, who oversees the county jail and attended the hearing, said afterward, "We are trying to accommodate (Mayweather) the best we can, but we have to protect him from the population. That’s the bottom line."
Donahue said Mayweather will be evaluated once a week during his first 60 days in jail to determine whether he can be moved.
"Right now, nothing has changed" that would allow him to be moved from protective custody, Donahue said.
Because his celebrity is the reason Mayweather is in protective custody, Donahue said he didn’t expect Mayweather’s jail status to change.
During the hearing, Wright said that Mayweather would be willing to work with jail officials to identify a location to serve house arrest should the judge agree. He said he would rent a small apartment for the boxer if that would satisfy the court.
Wright said he is aware of the public outcry against his client and of the square footage of his home, but it didn’t change the fact that Mayweather is not being treated fairly.
Mayweather lives in a 12,000-square-foot mansion in the ritzy Southern Highlands development. The mansion sports a walk-in closet bigger than his jail cell.
"I’m not looking for special treatment for Floyd Mayweather. I’m looking for fair treatment," Wright said.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported Monday that Mayweather filed a motion seeking house arrest because he was being treated differently than other inmates at the Clark County Detention Center charged with similar misdemeanor offenses. Mayweather is segregated from the general population and confined to his cell 23 hours a day in a locked-down section populated by felony defendants.
The 35-page motion, which included an affidavit from Mayweather’s personal physician, Dr. Robert Voy, said that if Mayweather remained in jail, it would threaten his career. The boxer had planned on fighting for at least two more years, according to the motion.
Voy, through a court order, examined Mayweather for 90 minutes on Friday while jail medical staff observed. He determined Mayweather is consuming less than 800 calories a day. He is eating fruit, bread and energy bars bought at the commissary. Under his normal daily training routine the boxer consumes between 3,000 to 4,000 calories.
Voy also investigated Mayweather’s ability to exercise. He found Mayweather has no room to exercise in jail, and he is not allowed to use the training areas because he is in isolation.
"After examining Mr. Mayweather, Dr. Voy was concerned with Mr. Mayweather’s dehydrated appearance, his lack of muscle tone and his dry mucus membranes," the motion said.
Voy also "expressed deep concern for Mr. Mayweather’s health and explained that any lengthy period of time with an inappropriate diet, coupled with lack of regular exercise, will most likely lead to irreversible damage to Mr. Mayweather’s physique," the motion said.
"Such damage could and, most likely, would lead to Mr. Mayweather being unable to continue his boxing career," the motion said.
Voy was concerned that Mayweather was withdrawing into depression and developing anger issues that he normally can "dissipate" through his exercise routine.
On June 1, Saragosa commended the boxer for his progress toward completing his court-ordered counseling and community service.
Mayweather was on the way to completing other portions of his probation when he began serving the jail sentence.
He finished 21 of the 54 counseling sessions, including one on May 5, the day of Mayweather’s last fight, a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto that ran his record to 43-0. He was guaranteed $32 million for the fight.
Mayweather also completed 45 hours of community service with three local charities: Habitat for Humanity, Three Square food bank and the Las Vegas Rescue Mission.
In recent months, Mayweather has embarked on a goodwill campaign.
In addition to his required community service, Mayweather has donated more than $100,000 to charities, including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and Habitat for Humanity.
The boxer pleaded guilty in December to domestic battery and no contest to two counts of harassment, all misdemeanors, for assaulting the mother of three of his children and threatening his two sons.
Mayweather’s scheduled release date is Aug. 3, according to jail records.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.