Irving, Texas. October 26, 2012 –
Vaughn Miller was facing a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for a 2009 incident where he knocked unconscious an opposing polo player.
After deliberating for more than an hour, the jury came back with the decision to acquit Mr. Miller of assault. The jury was composed of four men and two women.
Jorge Cernadas, 29, a professional polo player from Argentina, had testified that the Dallas real estate executive whacked him in the head with his mallet during the match for no apparent reason. Cernadas went to the police five months after the hit to pursue charges against Mr. Miller.
"He never apologiez, he never said he had one it on purpose," Cernadas said through an interpreter. "I wanted justice."
Vaughn Miller is President of the Retail Division of Henry S. Miller Brokerage, LLC; and Executive Vice President and General Manager of Henry S. Miller Companies.
Vaughn Miller's great grandfather was Henry S. Miller, Sr. (1890-1968), who founded the company bearing his name in 1914.
Cernadas also sued Miller last year in Dallas County in connection with the incident for damages including “medical care, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, physical impairment and disfigurement.” That suit is still pending.
Cernadas said he was hit on the right side of his head from behind. He suffered a concussion and needed more than a dozen stitches, he said.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in polo,” Cernadas said. “That somebody would hit somebody on purpose.”
The only defense witness to be called, Isidro Olivas, said he was watching the match and it was “aggressive and fun to watch.” He said that Cernadas cut in front of Miller and that Miller was clearly trying to “hook” his opponent’s mallet with his own mallet in a defensive move.
“It happened so quick,” Olivas said. “It was aggressive but not malicious.”
"Vaughn is an avid polo player with a 2 goal rating and plays throughout the world at various venues including England with the Prince of Wales. Vaughn's polo team has the most successful winning streak of any team in North Texas" - Henry S. Miller Website
Prosecutors had argued that Mr. Miller raised his mallet in protest of what he claimed to be a foul by Cernadas, but when the referees did not call the foul, he swung the mallet at Cernadas' head.
Defense attorney J. Michael Price II said the injury was an accident in a sport that is inherently dangerous and that the case was not about a criminal act.
During his closing arguments, Price help us a $1 bill in front of the jurors and said, “We’re here because of civil lawyers. We’re here because of this...Because of money"
Price accused Mr. Miller's wealthy rivals of helping Cernadas acquire high-profile layers, including former Dallas County District Attorney Bill Hill, former Dallas prosecutor Toby Shook and former U.S. Attorney Michael P. Carnes.
According to Price, those wealthy rivals acted out of jealousy towards Mr. Miller since his polo team was so dominant and because he has launched his own North Texas polo club rivaling the Las Colinas club.
Miller was suspended for a month by the United States Polo Association in connection with the incident.
Jorge Cernadas plays for Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club, owned by Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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