Thursday, July 07, 2011

Willie Nelson may still sing jailhouse blues in Hudspeth County pot bust

The New York Times this morning reports ("Case of Willie Nelson pot bust isn't extinguished yet"that the judge in Willie Nelson's pot possession case in Hudspeth County has refused to accept plea deals reached between the prosecution and Nelson's attorneys. The story opens:
The seemingly routine occurrence of Willie Nelson’s being found in possession of marijuana has stoked a small conflagration in a Texas county where a judge says she will not permit what she sees as the lenient punishment of this singer by an overly deferential prosecutor.

Judge Becky Dean-Walker of Hudspeth County said on Tuesday morning that she would not accept a mailed-in plea agreement for Mr. Nelson that stemmed from a 2010 drug arrest there and that she believed that the county attorney, Kit Bramblett, was giving the singer preferential treatment because he is famous.

“He’s supposed to file the charge he feels is appropriate,” Judge Dean-Walker said of Mr. Bramblett in a telephone interview. “Not what he feels he should do for his favorite singer. It is up to the judge to agree or not.”

Judge Dean-Walker added, “If you’re not going to do it for the guy in the corner, why do it for a celebrity?”
After detailing two plea deals reached by attorneys but rejected by the judge, the story concluded, “'At no point do I have to let him off,' the judge said. 'If Willie Nelson gets off with nothing, I’m not going to be part of it.'”

It's not so clear, though, that the judge herself wouldn't normally do exactly this for "the guy in the corner." She went on to say she'd actually, physically signed off on the deal before realizing Nelson was the defendant. "The judge said she had accidentally signed off on paperwork approving the latest deal for Mr. Nelson," reported the Times, "then crossed out her signature. 'I did sign it before I realized,' she said. 'I flipped it over and I said, ‘Oh, no.’”

It's not surprising she signed off on the deal before realizing she had a celebrity defendant. Very few Texas defendants convicted of low-level pot possession end up sentenced to jail time, so one wonders if, at this point, Nelson's case isn't being treated less favorably by the judge than normal because of his celebrity, in sort of a mirror image of the lenient stance she accuses the prosecutor of taking. Who knows? Certainly the Red Headed Stranger can afford the lawyers to flesh it all out. But I surely wonder what other sentences for comparable charges have issued from the same judge's court? I doubt many included jail stints.

See related Grits posts:


Big T said...

Looks to me from the judge's statements that Nelson's defense has a pretty good basis for a recusal motion.

Hook Em Horns said...

Another judge making a name for itself!

Anonymous said...

She needs to recuse herself if she can't be unbiased.

ckikerintulia said...

She probably would like for Hudspeth County to get the notoriety of a high profile trial. It might come back to bite her.

rodsmith said...

yep the febs might want to talk to this idiot judge. considering their so-called "border stop" was what 50-100 miles INSIDE THE BORDER i think the last think the febs want is somneone with a world wide following and lots of money to shine a light on their criminal activities!

Phelps said...

So, in other words, to prove that willy doesn't get unusual punishment, we have to give willy unusual punishment.

I guess it makes more sense in a robe.

Anonymous said...

So what's the offer?

Anonymous said...

Unlike so many musicians, Willie hasn't overdosed and died early. He is to be commended for that. Rock musicians, it used to be said, overdose and die at the average age of 27. It's their lifestyle, I suppose. Willie, and Mick, look like hell, but they are survivors! Of course Willie, even though he has led an identical lifestyle, isn't a rock artist. It's really something - to never take a sober breath!

BarkGrowlBite said...

Come on fellows. Regardless of where you stand on pot, isn't about time to say 'enough is enough!'

I'm a big fan of Willie and have been so for many years. 'On the Road Again' is still one of my favorites. But Willie has been busted for pot possession a bunch of times over the years and he has openly flouted the law by toking up a joint onstage.

A little jail time won't hurt Willie, but it might send a message to people that, no matter who you are, you cannot continue to flout the law.

Anonymous said...

Tired of that old man getting away with drugs.PUT EM AWAY. GOT KIDS doing time for drugs over and over and he is getting away over and over. all cause of moola!! sad and a bad INFLUENCE