Thursday, July 27, 2006

This is a Happy Day!

Everyone knew what hung in the balance: the government’s unfettered and promiscuous use of inmate snitch testimony. DEA officials and high ranking officials with the U.S. Attorneys office were in the spectators’ gallery following the proceeding with a concern bordering on desperation.

The day-long hearing was tense and adversarial. No one knew what to expect. Judge Melancon could sentence the defendants to between ten and twenty years in prison and order that the family home be forfeited to the U.S. government. Or he could call for an evidentiary hearing. Or he could grant new trials and release three of the four defendants.

“If this conviction stands it will be a miscarriage of justice,” attorney Bill Goode charged.

“The court cannot re-weigh the evidence or substitute a judgment it feels is more reasonable,” U.S. Attorney Brett Grayson fired back.

“Motions for a new trial are not favored,” Judge Tucker Melancon agreed, “and are granted only with great caution.” New trials could only be granted, the judge told us, “in exceptional cases in which the evidence preponderates against the verdict.”

Finally, after a ten-minute break stretched to an agonizing half-hour, Melancon gazed at the ceiling and rendered his ruling. “I am convinced,” he said after ten minutes of preamble, “using the more onerous standard, that the defendants’ motions for a new trial, in the interest of justice, should be granted.”

Gasps of joyful disbelief echoed through the courtroom. “That will be enough of that!” a U.S. Marshall barked. The Judge told the Marshall to have Ann Colomb, Edward Colomb and Danny Davis back on the street within an hour.

As we waited outside the hulking structure they call the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, little children, light-headed from the heat and intense humidity, were rolling listlessly down a grassy embankment—working heroically to entertain themselves in an atmosphere of high tension, joy and horror they could scarcely understand.

The children of inmates are remarkably resilient. Survival depends on it. A few weeks before the July 14th sentencing hearing in the Colomb-Davis case little Mariah Price was sitting in my lap reading from a Bible-story picture book. I turned the page to a picture of Joseph in prison.

“Do you know who that is?” I asked.

“He’s Jesus,” Mariah informed me. “He's in jail with my granny and God’s gonna get them out.”

Weeks later, as July 14th dawned, young Mariah Price bounced out of bed and clapped her hands. “This is a happy day,” she told her mother, “’cause my granny is getting out of jail.” Jennifer Price hugged her little girl and prayed that she was right.

Twelve hours later little Mariah was skipping in circles in front of the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center waiting to hug her granny. After two hours in the sauna-like conditions, Nancy Bean scooped up four children and drove them to the nearest McDonalds for an ice cream cone. Meanwhile, some of the older family members took refuge in the air conditioned waiting room of a bails bondsman.

Three-and-a-half hours after Judge Melancon ordered the release of Ann Colomb, Edward Colomb and Danny Davis, the three defendants were released to their loved ones. Natacha Colomb embraced her Edward and Elizabeth Davis rushed to her Danny. Elizabeth hadn’t been able to stay in the house Danny had built for her while he was locked up. Now she took the ring she had been wearing close to her heart and placed it back on Danny’s finger where it belonged.

When everyone was free, Danny called out, “Hey ya’ll; we need to thank God for this miracle.” Thirty men, women, and children joined hands in a big circle and Danny led us in a short, workingman’s prayer followed by the familiar words, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name . . .”

When you open a 500-piece puzzle the complexity is overwhelming. Over the next several weeks I will be putting together the pieces of the Colomb-Davis narcotics conspiracy puzzle and when I am finished you will understand why this case has the feds shaking in their well-polished wingtips.


Anonymous said...

I am a retired DEA Agent and I would love to help you put those pieces of that complex conspiracy puzzle together. Henson knows how to get ahold of me and I will do it for free.

DEA needs a good enima and I would love to be the one who administers it.

Anonymous said...

Alan Bean;

I prefer not to do this on a blog so give me an email address or get mine from Henson.

If there's a problem in that case, it won't be in what you have. It'll be in what you don't have.

Was this solely a DEA case or was this a "cooperation" case with state and locals?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, and thanks!

Anonymous said...

To Alan Bean;

I'll be in touch after the weekend using email. Then we can talk.