UPDATE: Darien football players granted record-clearing probation

The charges stemmed from a alleged fight that occured in New Canaan in early November.

UPDATE Thursday, 12:30 — Darien football quarterback Jack Joyce must complete 34 hours of community service to complete his accelerated rehabilitation, his attorney, John Thygerson told The Darien Times Thursday morning.

That is six hours less than his teammate, Brian Minicus. The court will grant his AR upon completion of those hours on Feb. 28.

The reason he received fewer hours was Thygerson said “the court acknowledged Joyce wasn’t accused  of laying a hand on anyone.” The decision by the court came on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Thygerson also saidJoyce’s early admission to the University of Pennsylvania had been taken off the table until the school could see how the charges were settled — a decision Joyce and his family hoped would change after the February court date. Thygerson said it was “our fervent hope that this relatively minor incident will not derail his opportunity to pursue his education of his choice of a top school.”

“He has worked very hard. He has stellar grades and he’s a stellar athlete,” Thygerson said.

In addition, Thygerson had some strong words for the media coverage of the case, which he said baffled him.

“In 21 years of practice, I have never seen this much press generated over two minor misdemeanors involving high school kids. I have been practicing daily in the state of Connecticut since 1996. It’s absolutely mind-boggling,” he said.

In particular, Thygerson noted a Hartford Courant column saying Darien should not be able to call itself number one football team in the state, and a news website that tagged Joyce’s intended college in a tweet about the charges.

He added that everyone charged with a crime has the right to the presumption of innocence and said he wasn’t excusing the incident.

“I don’t want to minimize what happened here. What happened shouldn’t have happened. But there’s a total lack of perspective with the news coverage on this case,” Thygerson said, comparing it to serious violent crimes in the area.

“Despite the excessive press coverage of this case, Jack Joyce has held his head up high and maintained composure when others might not have,” he said.

“He has been nothing if not stoic, accepting full responsibility of his actions, eager to move his life forward in the positive way that I know he will,” Thygerson said.

“I’ve read this kid’s transcript. We have presented letters to the court that have been phenomenal and described him in ebullient terms,” he said.

“I don’t think he should be judged by one incident in time,” Thygerson said.

Wednesday 4:30 — Two Darien High School football players have been granted probation that could clear their records on charges stemming from a fight in New Canaan that resulted in them missing the Thanksgiving rivalry football game against the New Canaan High School Rams.

Jack Joyce and Brian Minicus  surrendered to New Canaan Police on Nov. 23 to face charges related to the alleged assault on a New Canaan teen Nov. 6. According to Stephen Seeger, Minicus’s attorney, accelerated rehabilitation “was granted at our request” at court Wednesday.

The record-clearing probation was granted on the condition that Minicus complete 40 hours of community service. Upon receipt of that proof that the service has been completed, his charges are expected to be dropped in early March.

Though Seeger said he only spoke on behalf of Minicus, he said he believed Joyce was granted  a similar accelerated rehabilitation.

A third student was also arrested on charges related to the incident but has not been named as he is a juvenile.

Seeger said the victim in the case was present during his initial arguments for granting AR in December, and the court gave the victim time to think about it. Seeger also added that they had time to confer with the victim’s attorney as well.

“Ultimately in the end there was no objection. We are grateful that we had time to speak with the victim’s lawyer and that they wouldn’t object to the agreement,” Seeger told The Darien Times Wednesday.

Seeger added that they were grateful to be called back to court earlier than expected, and “my client is now able to pursue an otherwise very promising career at college.” He added that there was no doubt the ages of the Darien High School students played a part.

The timing of the March dismissal coincides with college admissions, Seeger said, which he said more than likely also was part of the consideration.

“I think this was a misunderstood situation from the beginning,” he said, and added that Minicus took things seriously from the beginning and thus will be able to pick up “where he left off.”

“We are grateful this has been resolved,” Seeger said.

Joyce and Minicus, both 18-year-old DHS seniors, were arrested on the eve of the Blue Wave’s Thanksgiving Day matchup against New Canaan High School. They surrendered at New Canaan Police headquarters around 5:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve.

Minicus, one of the Darien football team captains,  was charged with unlawful restraint and third-degree assault.

Joyce was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.

Joyce was the starting quarterback for the Blue Wave. Minicus was a starting safety. Both are seniors who were in their final season of high school football.

A 17-year-old, who was not identified because he is legally a minor, was charged with conspiracy to commit third-degree assault and second-degree unlawful restraint. He was released to his parents and is due to report to juvenile court on a date that was not released because he is a minor.

Minicus remained off the field for the remainder of the season. Joyce returned to the field for Darien’s Class LL quarterfinals the following Tuesday.

New Canaan won the Thanksgiving Day game 27-0, ending Darien’s 34-game unbeaten streak. The Blue Wave rebounded in the state playoffs, winning three games and the state title.

In December, Seeger explained that his “client has made application for a diversionary program in this case—as a legal mechanism it may afford my client the best and most expeditious opportunity to put this matter behind him.

Matthew Maddox, attorney for Jack Joyce, was unable to be reached for comment.

Both docket records have been sealed on jud.ct.gov for some time.

Mark Sherman, the Stamford criminal defense lawyer representing the juvenile, declined to comment on the new developments.

 

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