My day began before dawn in Richmond, Virginia, as the circus that is the Michael Vick court case opened for business. Satellite trucks flanked the entire length of the court house, local police were lead around by German Shepherds to "make sure everything is safe in the area" (as their press officer cryptically tells me) and I assumed my place in the line of all lines.
The day's proceedings weren't scheduled to begin for another five hours, but to ensure I was one of the 100 people that gained entry into the first-come, first-served courtroom, I got there at 5:45 a.m., placing a respectable 13th in line. The line got long quickly as a motley crew of journalists, Vick supporters and Vick haters filled out the ranks.
Next to me in line was one such hater -- Steve, a 60-something shipyard man, with a Chihuahua named Dinky by his side and a T-Shirt that reads "My Dog Hates Michael Vick". He's an affable fellow who's passionate about his dog and perhaps even more passionate about, of all things, arm wrestling. I was skeptical about his claim to have once been the world arm wrestling champion, so he insisted that we match up. He took me down ala Sly Stallone, in what's perhaps the only film ever dedicated to the sport, 1987's "Over the Top". I decide never again to question alleged former world arm wrestling champions.
Surprisingly enough, the hours seemed to fly by, and finally, I was directed to the courtroom in which Michael Vick was to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge. The atmosphere was surprisingly jovial, given the serious business that was about to unfold. But that changed when members of Vick's family, the last to enter before Vick himself, were shown to their seats in the front row. The chatter devolved into a murmur. And then, when Vick walked through the door, there was complete silence.
Judge Henry Hudson rolled through a number of questions about the case with speed and cadence and Vick kept his answers short and seemingly without emotion. I tried to get a look at his face for any indication of what was going through his mind, but with his back to the crowd, hands at his side, it was impossible. From there, we rushed over to Vick's press conference, where many of those covering the case were surprised to hear Vick speak. The rest of the day was a whirlwind of "live shots" (where a correspondent, in this case, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, goes live on air). As I write this blog post, I'm in hour 15 of Vick coverage today, with a few more hours to go.
-- By Chuck Hadad, CNN Producer