As my esteemed collegue, Tom Ryle, reported earlier, Rolando McClain would have to miss at least the opening of training camp to attend to a legal issue that was awaiting in in Decatur, Alabama. The charges, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, stem from an incident last year when McClain, who was a part of a crowd of approximately 500 people gathered at a Decatur park, was taken into police custody for shouting "F%#* the police." Prosecutors allege the the NFL player made that statement in an attempt to incite the crowd. He also scratched an officer's arm in trying to pull away while being arrested.
As evidence, the state presented footage of the incident, including audio which clearly proves that the statement was uttered. From the tape there is no way to determine who made the statement. A pair of Decatur officers gave testimony that they witnessed McClain uttering those words, and that they felt concern for their safety as a result of the defendant's attempt to incite the gathered throng of people.
Attorney Harvey Steinberg, who represents McClain, countered the state's claim by stating that his client has a constitutional right to free speech, and as such his utterance is "protected." This is a gray area. Speech is indeed protected, up to the point that it puts others in danger. In this case, the judge sided with police , who felt that McClain's actions could have started a full-fledged riot.
The Decatur Municipal Court found McClain guilty based on officer statements and the video evidence. He was sentenced to 18 days in jail, but his attorney has already served notice to the court that he intends to appeal the conviction. Because of this, McClain will face a jury trial later this year. In the meantime his sentence will be on hold, pending the results of the appeal.
Under Alabama law, McClain would not ordinarily be permitted to leave the state until his appeal is heard. Given the special circumstances of McClain's career, the city prosecutor agreed to waive that condition. This will allow the player to join his team in training camp immediately.