Titans backup QB Chris Simms has trial date on NYC charges of driving after smoking marijuana

Monday, August 23, 2010

NY trial date set for Titans backup QB Chris Simms

NEW YORK — Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms needs to add a new date to his 2010 season: an October trial in his New York City drugged-driving case.

Simms didn’t make it Monday to a Manhattan court date in the case, which stems from a July 1 arrest. Police say he admitted smoking marijuana in his car; he says they misquoted him.

Lawyer Kim Richman declined to explain why Simms wasn’t there, but the Titans are in the midst of training in Nashville and were set to play a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Michael J. Yavinsky agreed to excuse Simms’ absence, rebuffing prosecutors’ request for a warrant authorizing police to arrest the gridiron scion and bring him to court. But the judge said Simms, a son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, needs to be there Oct. 7 for a hearing and trial — football obligations notwithstanding.

“If Mondays are bad because Sundays he works, let’s not pick a Monday,” the judge said.

Oct. 7 is a Thursday.

Simms, 29, was stopped at a checkpoint, with his pregnant wife in the car. According to court documents filed by prosecutors, he slurred his words as he told police: “I was smoking marijuana in the car earlier. I took four puffs.”

Simms’ lawyers have said he was just talking about smoking cigarettes, and they argue police had no justification for stopping or arresting him. Prosecutors say the arrest was lawful.

Simms told The Tennessean newspaper earlier this month he “definitely didn’t say” what authorities said he did, and he called the episode embarrassing to him and his family.

“I always try and look at myself as a high-character guy, and I hope I don’t get judged off this incident,” he told the Nashville newspaper. “But I think in the end everything will be OK.”

The Titans declined to comment on the case Monday.

Simms faces misdemeanor and traffic violation charges of driving while impaired by drugs. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Simms has started 16 games during his NFL career, with a 7-9 record. A third-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, he was gravely injured when his spleen ruptured in a 2006 game against the Carolina Panthers, forcing him to undergo emergency surgery.

After Tampa Bay released him, he went to Tennessee in 2008, played for the Denver Broncos last year as an unrestricted free agent and returned to the Titans this year.

His father played 14 seasons with the Giants, leading them to two Super Bowls. He is now an announcer and analyst for CBS Sports.

(This version CORRECTS judge’s title to Judge instead of Justice.)

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