Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Suspended Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry will no longer play for OSU and might be transferring away for good.
Robert Tobias, the assistant city prosecutor assigned to the case, told The Lantern on the phone Wednesday that Berry’s defense attorney expressed Berry’s wish to transfer to another school.
“My understanding is that … (Berry’s) desire would be to transfer somewhere else and so he could potentially get playing time. Whether he goes back to Florida or whether he goes somewhere else to go to school, I don’t know,” Tobias said. “It was told to me by the defense attorney that he was not on the team anymore and that he had a desire to relocate for school somewhere else out of state.”
Berry, dressed in a black suit, talked privately with his attorneys during his pre-trial Wednesday morning, but did not address the court directly. At one point, he leaned over to a woman with him and said he was “fine.”
Berry’s attorney, William Meeks, and fellow attorney assigned to the case, Dave Thomas, were unavailable to comment further Wednesday evening.
At Franklin County Municipal Court, Meeks said Berry remains in good standings as a student and on scholarship, but is no longer a part of the football team.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Edwin Hollern, was not at the pre-trial hearing Wednesday, and told The Lantern in a phone interview that all case inquiries should be directed to the prosecutor.
Jerry Emig, spokesman for the OSU athletic department, told The Lantern in an email that Berry is officially still on scholarship.
“He is not working out with the team and he has not been involved with the team since October,” Emig said.
At court, Meeks also confirmed that Berry was suspended by his positions coach, former running backs coach Dick Tressel, and not by former head coach Luke Fickell or new coach Urban Meyer.
Wednesday’s pre-trial was the first meaningful discussion among those involved in the case, which is being continued because Berry’s defense is challenging his identification by the alleged victim.
“The identification in the case, we think, is probably constitutionally faulty,” Meeks said in court.
The identification of Berry by the alleged victim is not the only issue Berry’s defense is raising.
“We are challenging, by a not-guilty plea, the alleged assault in this case,” Meeks said in court.
Moving forward, Meeks said there is a 50-50 chance the case will go to trial.
Tobias said it is not unusual for the case to be continued.
“Upwards of 95 percent of the cases, somewhere between 90 to 95 percent do not get resolved in pre-trial.” Tobias told The Lantern.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 8.
Andrea Goldblum, director of OSU Student Conduct, is prohibited by law to talk about the handling of Berry’s case from a student eligibility perspective, but said the process is separate from the criminal justice system.
“We do have an ability to charge students who are involved in all kinds of things under the code of student conduct, as long as it’s within our jurisdiction,” Goldblum told The Lantern in a phone interview. “But it’s not hand-in-hand that it’s automatic or paired with the criminal justice system.”
Berry was suspended from the football team Nov. 2 after being charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct.
The charges were based on an incident that occurred at 2:20 a.m. on Oct. 21 in the Arena District in downtown Columbus, involving Berry and a Columbus State Community College student.
On Dec. 27, Berry pleaded not guilty to the charges and jury time for the case was waived, according to court documents.
In the incident, the plaintiff was “struck in the face with a closed fist,” according to the Columbus police report.
The plaintiff was treated at the hospital following the incident for injuries to his head, face, neck, back and hand. He was also ruled as having a possible concussion and eye damage, said Edwin Hollern, the plaintiff’s attorney on Oct. 27.
Hollern previously said the remedy for the incident is compensatory damages and punitive damages, asking each in excess of $25,000, according to court documents.
On Sept. 28, Berry was involved in what an OSU police report described as an “assault” on another student. Berry was admitted and released from the OSU Medical Center and no charges were filed. In this incident, two males were witnessed “wrestling on the ground” in the South Oval, according to a police report.
In 2009, Berry was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in Miami, Fla. Berry dressed for the Michigan State game on Oct. 1, the first game after his Sept. 28 incident. He was also dressed for the Wisconsin game on Oct. 29, the first game after he was named in a lawsuit for the second incident.