COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett was ordered Friday to have
a mental health evaluation after a highway chase and violent
struggle with police who caught him with four loaded guns. The
former Ohio State football star insisted he is competent to stand
trial in another case.
Judge David Fais delayed the trial set to begin Monday on
previous charges accusing the player of holding up two people
outside a bar on New Year's Day.
The events surrounding Clarett's arrest early Wednesday made the
evaluation by a doctor necessary, regardless of the objections by
Clarett and his attorneys, Fais said.
"I clearly understand everything, and I don't know why we have
to drag this thing out," said Clarett, who scoffed, smiled and
rolled his head back when Fais ordered the evaluation.
Clarett, who wrote a few notes to his attorneys with his hands
cuffed, said he was ready to go to trial.
Fais was concerned by Clarett's attorneys saying in published
reports that they were worried about his mental health.
"It's my job," Fais said. "I have to ensure that your rights
Clarett's girlfriend, who gave birth to the couple's daughter
last month, and his mother sat in the courtroom. They declined
A delay gives Clarett time to recover from a swollen face and
bruised eye from his struggle with several officers.
Fais also revoked Clarett's $1.1 million bond on the charges,
meaning Clarett figures to remain in jail until the new trial
starts Sept. 18.
Clarett's latest run-in with the law began when police noticed a
vehicle driving erratically, prompting a highway chase that ended
with police spiking the SUV's tires. Officers said they could not
easily subdue Clarett because he was wearing a bulletproof vest
that thwarted their stun guns.
After police using pepper spray finally got him into handcuffs,
the 6-foot, 245-pounder continued to struggle, kicking at the doors
of the transport vehicle. Officers also put a cloth mask over
Clarett's mouth after they say he spat at them.
Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and a
traffic violation, and police said more charges are possible. Bond
on those charges was set at $5 million, which Clarett's attorneys
said he most likely would not be able to pay.
He was driving a few blocks from the home of a woman scheduled
to testify against him in his robbery trial. In that case,
witnesses said Clarett flashed a gun and robbed them of a cell
phone behind a Columbus nightclub.
Fais said he thought allowing time to pass between the highway
chase and Clarett's trial on the robbery charges would be
beneficial. The delay also will give the court more time to draw
the larger jury pool that will be necessary to find impartial
people because of the publicity surrounding the case, he said.
Prosecutors supported the decision for the evaluation. Defense
attorneys twice objected to the order, saying they were confident
Clarett was competent.
"We do not wish to see these proceedings continued at all,"
attorney Michael Hoague told the judge.
The evaluation could have been done over the weekend to avoid
delaying the trial, Hoague said afterward.
"Instead of having the possibility of being acquitted this time
next week, he'll be in jail," he said.
As a freshman, Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the
second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State
to the 2002 national championship. It was the last game he played
for the Buckeyes.
He was suspended for the following season after being charged
with falsely reporting a theft to police.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Clarett called him a couple
times this week, including once the day before his arrest. Tressel
didn't get the calls and left Clarett a voice mail, but the two
"I didn't get a chance to connect with him recently, but
absolutely -- he's in my thoughts," Tressel said.
Clarett alleged in a 2004 news article that Tressel or his staff
arranged for him to get passing grades, cars and money for bogus
Clarett provides a "teaching moment" for other players,
"When you review in your mind the conversations you've had and
the lessons you've tried to share, yes, anytime we don't succeed,
whether socially or academically, if someone doesn't make it, or if
we don't succeed athletically, it's disappointing," he said.
After dropping out of school, he unsuccessfully challenged the
NFL's draft eligibility rule in 2004. The Broncos made him a
surprise third-round pick the following year, but he was cut during