SUSSEX, Va. - Michael Vick moved one step closer to being tried on state dogfighting charges Wednesday at a hearing to make sure he has legal representation.
An attorney for the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback appeared in Surry County Circuit Court and was asked to return Nov. 27 to set a trial date.
Vick, who did not attend the hearing, is in the midst of a big week. Today, representatives from the Falcons, the NFL management council and the NFL Players Association are scheduled to meet in Philadelphia for a contract arbitration case.
The Falcons want Vick to return up to $22 million in bonus money, arguing his guilty plea to a federal dogfighting charge violated his 10-year, $130 million contract. The NFLPA is expected to argue Vick already has earned the bonus money.
Vick, who faces up to five years in prison, is to be sentenced Dec. 10 on the federal charges.
He and three co-defendants, all of whom already have pleaded guilty to the federal dogfighting charges, are not expected at the Nov. 27 hearing, Surry County prosecutor Gerald G. Poindexter said Wednesday.
Poindexter said he hopes to have the trial begin as soon as possible.
'All the good citizens of Surry County I am sure would like to see an end to this, along with a lot of other good people,' the prosecutor said outside the courtroom.
Virginia Beach attorney Larry Woodward, who will represent Vick on the state charges, said Vick turned himself in last week in the rural county for pretrial processing and bonding. Vick has been charged with two state felony counts - beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Surry County is where the dogfighting enterprise known as Bad Newz Kennels operated since 2001 on land Vick owned.
Woodward's appearance in court was brief, and he made the long walk to his car afterward without saying a word as about 30 reporters peppered him with questions.
Vick's lawyers have indicated they will fight the state charges on the grounds he can't be convicted twice of the same crime. In pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge Aug. 27, Vick admitted helping to kill six to eight dogs, among other things.