Sunday, March 07, 2010

Absurdist 35-year pot sentence a hometown embarrassment

This absurdist sentence from my hometown embodies much of what's wrong with today's justice system, even if I partially disagree with this writer's diagnosis at the Houston Press' Hairballs blog of the offender's biggest error.
Smith County (East Texas) judges and juries have long had a reputation of meting out severe, some might say ridiculous, punishment for drug convictions. And Henry Wooten's case is no exception: the 54-year-old Tyler man was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in prison for possessing slightly more than four ounces of pot. Wooten actually got off easy -- the prosecutor asked the jury to give him 99 years. (We just hope TDCJ can free up room for this menace to society; maybe the state can release a child molester or serial arsonist to find a cell for Wooten.)

While the sentence may be asinine, we can't help but feel Wooten brought much of this upon himself -- mostly by choosing to be both a pothead and live in Tyler, when clearly that calls for an either/or scenario.
Hard to know what these people are thinking: Next time you read in the newspaper that a violent offender was released from TDCJ and immediately began committing serious crimes, think of this case and Mr. Wooten filling a prison cell needed for actually dangerous people. And since he's 54, TDCJ is getting him just when (according to averages) his health care costs are about to go up dramatically. This whole war on marijuana is really working out well, don't you think?

One also notes that this ridiculous sentence resulted from yet another blowhard prosecutor demanding to a jury that they send a message, arguing for a 99-year max sentence in the case for 4.6 ounces of marijuana (just over a quarter-pound) on the grounds that,"Every decision made by a jury sets a precedent." I suppose that's true, in a sense, if he meant establishing the precedent of Smith County being considered a laughingstock full of hypocritical, hyperpunitive jurors and prosecutors who almost seem to perform parody versions of their roles.

I can only add that, if my experience growing up in Tyler was any indication, there'd be a lot more white youth from the city's south side filling up TDCJ beds if that kind of sentence were routinely applied across the board. I haven't seen a photo of Mr. Wooten, but I don't need to in order to tell you he's almost certainly black. The sentence and the charging decisions that led to it tell you that much. In that sense, Hairballs was only partially right about Wooten's geographic error: This is north Tyler justice, such as it is - a precedent that was set a long time ago. What an embarrassment.


Whitsfoe said...

That's just nuts. Locking a man away for smoking hippie lettuce. I saw on the news where these head shops are selling (legally now - not for long) synthetic marijuana made from dried flowers. It's called K-19 or something like that. Same effect. They're selling it like hot cakes out west, and for like 15.00-20.00 for a very small amount. They showed a dude taking a pull from a bong on TV and it was hilarious. Like in your face Johnny Law.

It made me wonder how out economy might heal if we just legalized marijuana. We'd ruin the finance of the cartels and our kids could play safely in Mexico this spring break, we'd save money on not housing pot smokers in prison, and we could tax the hell out of it and put people back to work.

I never really followed the war on drugs until I started reading your blog. But now my eyes have opened to how insane this problem really is.

Anonymous said...

Before I spent a day in prison for a small amount of pot, I would all the lives I could! You hear that Smith County?

Anonymous said...

I worked for the Tyler Police Department for a short time in the late 90s. I noticed a definite difference in the way people were treated based on the part of town they lived in. The north side is made up mostly of blacks and hispanics while the south is mostly white. A person would always be stopped and questioned for walking down the wrong side of the street in north Tyler while the police wouldn't dare do that to someone living in Hollytree. Also, if you are driving an older car in south Tyler you are likely to be stopped.

I recall reading some articles recently about Judge William Wayne Justice's death. The city of Tyler was full of racist morons back when he integrated the schools and very little has changed. Unfortunately, these things seem to be genetic and the gene pool there is limited.

A recent example of how little things change there was the recent reelection of Judge Jack Skeen, Jr. Skeen was a long time district attorney. His office was infamous for withholding evidence, making undisclosed deals with jailhouse snitches, knowing sponsoring perjured testimony, among other things. Yet, he was appointed as a district judge several years ago. As a judge he routinely ignores both the constitution and the law. His behavior on the bench is outrageously biased. He bends over backwards to make sure the DA's office wins. He will make up rules of evidence and ignore real rules and laws just to make the trial go the DA's way. Personally, I think the man is a sociopath because he seems to get a perverse joy out of inflicting excessive punishments on people. I don't think the case referred to in this article was in his court. If it were the guy probably would have gotten the 99 years.

Skeen has a system set up in his court where he contracts with a handful of defense attorneys for indigent defense. These attorneys routinely convince there clients to plead guilty and let the judge set their sentence. This is malpractice because they know Skeen is going to give them the longest sentence he can. But, if they don't play along their contracts won't be renewed.

The city of Tyler is full of people who would probably say the 35 years this man received for a little bit of pot was just fine, or maybe wasn't enough. Just look at the list of people who made campaign contributions to Skeen. The list includes the Brookshires (of the grocery store fame) and famed criminal defense attorney Buck Files. It is reasonable to assume that by donating to Skeen's campaign they condone his unethical and illegal behavior. Isn't it disturbing to see a defense attorney donating to a judge like that. Of course, if you have the money, Files will get you a deal. If you don't have a lot of money and he is representing you, you may find yourself traded for one of his clients that does have money.

I'm proud to say I know longer livei in Smith County. Those braindead, racist, inbred, morons can have it.

Anonymous said...

I like how you leave out the significant details: possession in a drug free zone and 2 prior felony convictions = a MINIMUM sentence of 25 years. Maybe this "road" scholar should have found another form of entertainment.

Anonymous said...

I live in the next county over(the one closest to Louisana)and things ain't much better over here. At times its actually worse over here than in smith county.But that's the mentality of small town justice.There is a sayin around here "It's not guilt or innocence, it's how much money you have and WHO you know".

Anonymous said...

Criminal law is all about how much money the defendent has.

This is capitalism after all. The problem is that the State is spending more on prison than on college.

For folks that have the money to go to college, that makes a college education more valuable. The problem is we cannot afford the prison. Even capitalism has its limits!

Anonymous said...

The only significant detail is that the jury failed to nullify this nonsense from the state. Conservatives.... I don't think so. Reactionary tools seems like a more reasonable term of endearment.

Angee said...

Anon 12:16 Possession in a drug-free zone. Please explain that. I thought all of TX was a drug-free zone.
2 prior felonies--Tell us about those. Fill in the blanks here for those of us who want to know.
You do make it sound like pot and lack of intelligence go together but in another state he could do this legally. Pot has never held any appeal for me but pain comes with age. In the last couple of months we have been ready to try about anything.
In the future pot will be legalized, the Mexican Drug Cartel will be cut off at the knees and American money will stop supporting them in the style to which they have become accustomed. As long as we play Sugar Daddy they will prosper. They know how we look down our nose at the very idea so they have job security. We give Mexico free helicopters and pay people on both sides of the border. It is a circle that and our money keeps it rolling. We hear it's a war we can't win but I don't see a society that is willing to pull the plug on the money and watch it crumble. Punishing folks into submission doesn't work. Keeping it taboo enhances the attraction. It has become my belief that our worst enemy is is the inability to look within ourselves, choose our battles wisely and cut the rest loose.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:16, those are charging decisions, not mandates. The prosecution didn't have to lard on every available enhancement. The two felonies were more than 20 years ago. This case cried out for prosecutorial discretion. And they used it - just abusively.

Also, the information you're saying I ignored you obtained directly from the links I provided. Ironic, don't you think, how you say I "ignore" information that you actually learned through my blog?

Anonymous said...

Kudos 12:16. How about it Grits, any information on the two prior felony convictions this man had per the news article from the Tyler paper you sourced?

Oh yes, and digital scales. Was he a dealer or just weighing his own personal use bags?

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you 12:16


what you have failed to be told is 2 previous felony convictions plus one more new felony conviction equals three eguals three strikes and you are out. Three strikes equals 99 years and he got 35. Sounds like a great deal compared to what he could have gotten.

Right or wrong, charging decisions or not, it's his third strike.

By the way Scott, what were the two prior felony convictions for?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:18, I've linked to the only sources I've seen on the story. Perhaps you can tell us. I don't know what the felonies from the 1980s were about.

And once again, you're accusing me of concealing information you discovered from links I provided. I don't restate everything every reporter has said - I just link to it so you can read it yourself. That's hardly failing to tell you anything, you GOT the information you're accusing me of hiding via the links on this blog! Find a real complaint.

Anonymous said...

Based on some of the comments here Grits, your readers either did not read the news article or chose to ignore what it said about the two previous convictions. You conveniently left that information out of your post. While I guess you are not an investigative reporter in the sense, you do yourself and readers an injustice by leaving out pertinent details in the blog and let them rely on a one sided story.

Further, I sense from these posts that most of the readers do not know the penalty enhancements laws of of our state or again, choose to ignore them as a contributing factor as it relates to this man's sentence.

Look at what 11:13 said. I think he left out a word in the first sentence. Is he implying that he would take all the lives he could before spending a day in jail?

That's some kind of following you have. Maybe it make no difference to him and he/she is some kind of malingerer or malcontent, but to some of us, we would like to hear the rest of the story.

RAS said...

Grits, have all these allegations against Jack Skeen been verified? I thought you deleted libelous comments. The penalties should be applied equally of course, but if anyone wants to stop illegal drug use the penalty has to be more than 99.9% of the population is willing to risk. Legalizing pot won't affect the cartels, they already deal in several drugs besides pot, they'll just shift their focus slightly, unless these commentors think all drugs should be legalized. Over the counter oxycontin?

85tiger said...

As a 20 year plus criminal defense attorney, I understand Texas' punishment scheme, I understand charging decisions prosecutors make and I understand the concept of jury nullification. I also understand what Scott is trying to say. This sentence is rediculous, period.

Anonymous said...

"Grits, have all these allegations against Jack Skeen been verified?"

Read the Houston Chronicle series of articles from 2000 "Win at All Costs". Read the Texas Montly articles regarding the Mineola Swinger's Club case and the information from the appellate brief on the website for the attorney representing Patrick Kelly. Go spend some time in Skeen's courtroom observing his flagrant bias and violations of the law. Talk to some defense attorneys. The ones that aren't afraid will tell you about him. Look at the unconstitutional bonds he sets. Read Kerry Max Cook's book which has proof that Skeen's DA's office withheld evidence. There's plenty of information out there to support what I said about him. The part about him being a sociopath was only my opinion, of course, but its an informed opinion.

If you are a supporter of Skeen's I have to assume you think this type of behavior is acceptable.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RAS - Several of those statements about Skeen are based on fairly widely reported incidents, actually. However, for the record, I make no claim at moderating all comments for libel or anything else. There are too many and frankly I don't even read them all anymore. I have deleted comments in the past when I know for a fact they are libelous - usually per se libel like accusing someone of criminal acts for which they've not been convicted, etc.. I also have deleted smears and name calling that came to my attention if they contain no actual argument or substance. That's about it and it's on an ad hoc basis, at best.

In the case of what was said about Skeen, the ex-Tyler cop who made the statements is solely responsible for them. I can't and don't fact check commenters here (as you can tell by the fact that most of yours stay up!) and if I had to do so I'd have to eliminate the comments section.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:30 - now that you've discovered "the rest of the story," would you support releasing a violent felon to make room for this frankly pathetic penny-ante pot dealer?

Or to put it another way: The next time a recent parolee goes on a killing spree, will you come out and say "That's okay, at least that Wooten guy is locked up"? Incarceration resources are finite. They should be reserved for those we're afraid of, not those who society is only mad at.

RAS said...

No, Anon, I had never heard of Skeen until today; it's just hard for me to believe that there is proof that he suborned perjury and he is a sitting judge.If we as a society want to elliminate pot usage then we should make the penalties severe enough to scare away the fuz brains and stop playing an eternal game of "tag, you have to sit out of the game for a short recess." The penalties would have to be nearly even at least state wide to have any effect at all. These great white leaders in Tyler dumping on the minorities seems backward to me. If they are trying to protect the white kids from pot they should be hammering the white fuz brains to scare their kids and grandkids away from it.

RAS said...

Grits, as far as using prison space, how many prison beds would be empty and how many police officers would be unnecessary if the penalties for drugs were unacceptable to the drug dealers? How many millions of dollars would flow into the state's coffers if hundreds of millions weren't flowing out of the country?

Anonymous said...

Wooten is from Amarillo, not Tyler (North or South). He was bench warranted from TDCJ to Randall Co then to Tyler. He has a conviction of a 1989 aggravated PCS out of Smith County and a 2008 "Hinder Secure Creditor Enhanced" out of Randall County. It sounds like that he was smoking pot near a daycare and was found with "baggy after baggy" of marijuana and found scales in his car. Not sure it warrants 35 years, but not just an old hippie getting high, either. And this was out of Judge Kerry Russell's court. There was so much blasting at Jack Skeen, it makes sense to clarify whose court it was.

Anonymous said...

"Grits, as far as using prison space, how many prison beds would be empty and how many police officers would be unnecessary if the penalties for drugs were unacceptable to the drug dealers?"

Thats exactly the kind of thinking that has resulted in the failed war on drugs. Penalties have been increased over and over but it hasn't even made a dent. Who was it that said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:05 - Wooten was arrested for an offense in Tyler north of Gentry Parkway and prosecuted in Smith County. It hardly matters where he was raised. The north Tyler reference applies.

RAS - how much higher can you reasonably make penalties than this example? And people still sell and smoke pot in Smith County, guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

This post is so very typical of how Grits and the liberal mainstream media operates in their reporting on these hug-a-thug stories. Very rarely do they give you the whole story. If they do, they just give you enough to make you have to go digging for the truth yourself. What were this guy's priors for, Grits? Is it true he had scales too? In a school zone? Wonder what the prosecutions plea recommendation was on this case? How do you know there wasn't an offer below the 25 year minimum that this defendant might have rejected in choosing to go to trial? Oh wait--reporting that kind of information might compromise Grits' ability to spin a yarn worthy of getting all of his bleeding heart buddies worked up into a good lather over perceived "injustice" in the system! C'mon Man!

Anonymous said...

I recall seeing something a while back about the beginnings of the war on drugs. From what I recall, Nixon appointed a comission to study marijuana. The commission came back with a report stating that there was no reason for the government to regulate or prevent personal use of marijuana by people in their homes. That wasn't what Nixon wanted to hear so he threw the report in the trash.

John Stossel had a good show on the Fox Business Channel (I think) about some of the hype surrounding drugs. The public has been fed a lot of lies. He showed one clip from a news program that said 1 in 4 teenagers is using meth. The actual number was 1 in 1000.

Similarly, I can't remember the specific case, but there was a case in Tyler (I think) where someone was on trial for possession of a very small amount of some substance. A police officer testified that the amount this person possessed could get some outrageously exaggerated number of people high. In truth, the amount was very small and wouldn't have lasted one user very long, much less the ridiculous number of people the officer indicated. I'm sorry I don't remember more of the specifics.

These are just two examples of how the war on drugs has been overhyped. News reporters and police have greatly exaggerated the problems to scare the public. Stossel or one of his guest made a good point about how the police scare the public so then they can turn around and say we need more money and equipment to fight the war on drugs.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if this guy did have 2 prior convictions. Think of what it will cost to lock this guy up for 35 years. Is this really how we want to spend our tax dollars?

Frank AuBuchon said...

It could have been worse. He could have been tried in Williamson County.

RAS said...

Grits, try to but pot in South Korea or Saudi Arabia. Drugs can be penalized out of existense. If being caught with 25 pounds of coke was guaranteed to get someone life (or death) no one would transport more than 24. Find a weight low enough to sky rocket the price of coke and the coke becomes an endangered species. But there are too many in authority using or profitting from the drugs to get this done.

RAS said...

As to whether one out of four or one out of one thousand kids use meth, I bet it's somewhere in between, probably towards the lower end. But my point is I don't think any pole of teens is accurate at all. If asked this question I think most of them will think "how should I answer" not just respond with the truth. Sorry about the typo it should be buy not but.

whitsfoe said...

re: my understanding on the war on hippe lettuce - it even gets more bizzar the more I read.

All this is about marijuana? Come on people. You think what happened in Smith County is OK? That kind of sentence for marijuana? Are you fucking kidding me?

This is really depressing. I vote conservative but this really goes beyond conservative. This edges to absolute ignorance.

doran said...

Anon 7:50.

If you want Grits to provide the "whole story," so you won't have to exert yourself to go "digging" through the links, send Grits some money, so he can hire someone to do that work for you. And encourage all your friends to do the same. Otherwise, pipedown: You sound like some kind of socialist/communist/lazy butt/spoiled brat wanting someone else to work for you for free.

Anonymous said...

Grits didn't mention Skeens routine high bails to bankrupt defendants or hold them in jail until they make a plea deal with the prosecutors office. Smith County has 755 beds and Skeen keeps them full of folks waiting on trial. If Smith County had fair judges, they wouldn't NEED a jail expansion.

Anonymous said...

Smith County is also where the guy in the late 90's got life in prison because his third strike was stealing a candy bar.

Wasn't it Skeen who said "Well, it was a king size candy bar."?

Third strikes for such minor offenses are ridiculous. That's why most federal judges are actively bucking the sentencing guidelines--the enhancements make no sense in most cases. And many of those judges are Republican appointed.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:50 - I'll ask you the same question I asked 3:30 above: "now that you've discovered 'the rest of the story,' would you support releasing a violent felon to make room for this frankly pathetic penny-ante pot dealer?"

RAS, I don't want to live in a repressive totalitarian theocracy like Saudi Arabia, and I suspect most Americans agree.

Anonymous said...

Readers........Another part of the story left out...This was a post by Scott at Houston Press' Hairball blog in which Scott says the defendant was convicted of dealing:

Gritsforbreakfast says:
Howie writes: "It looks like he pled to the four ounces rather than go down for manufacture and distribution"

Not true: This was a jury-issued sentence. He was convicted of dealing, there was no plea.

Anonymous said...

"would you support releasing a violent felon to make room for this frankly pathetic penny-ante pot dealer?"

I would not support it and am happy it is a mute issue.

Scott, you remind me of someone practicing to run for political office with all this hype and false propaganda. You and I both know TDCJ has plenty of bed space, the problem is they don't have enough CO's to supervise the inmates.

ckikerintulia said...

Well, Grits, I guess now both of us can be embarrassed about events in our home towns!monics

ckikerintulia said...

Anonymous 8:30, how is it a "mute" issue?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:30, it's neither a mute nor a moot issue.

In 2007, Texas faced staggering increases in inmate numbers that were projected to require 17,000 new beds by 2012. So they created diversion programs to shift offenders like Mr. Weston - petty nonviolent offenders who pose little public safety threat - into community supervision.

Today TDCJ is at about 96% capacity and has 2,300 empty beds systemwide, but that's because the state has moved AWAY from this type of sentencing. Fill those beds up with pot dealers and they've got to let violent types go to make room, or else raise your taxes and spend billions for new prisons.

Anonymous said...

It's mute because this issue about a pot smoker,or as Scott posted was convicted of drug dealing, taking up a bed that might cause a violent offender to go on a killing spree "says nothing."

It's spin and hype meant to stir up emotions.

Pelowski said...

I'm I the only person that thinks the "every jury decision sets a precedent" line of argument is wholly improper? I remember the CCA actually saying something about a case being decided only on the facts and evidence in the record for a particular defendant. Defense attorneys need to stop letting prosecutors make improper appeals to public opinion or public policy.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:57, go to and search thw word "mute." It doesn't mean what you think it does.

8:20 - did you imagine I was concealing that information from you when I provided you the link where you found it? Bottom line: The Hairballs blog to which I referred readers up front covered all that ground, so I wrote about a different angle.

Perhaps my mistake is assuming you're all adults and don't need me to spoon-feed you or explain the concept of links on the internet; clearly for some, more hand holding is required.

Anonymous said...


I'd support reducing spending on all of these welfare programs being shoved down our throat at the federal level. I pray for the demise of "Obamacare." I hope for reduced taxes on businesses and capital investments which could stimulate the Texas economy and generate additional tax revenue at the state level thereby enabling our state to keep all of our prisons open and hopefully build some more. I don't think it has to be an "either/or" proposition between incarcerating some habitual offender drug dealer who's selling marihuana to school children and letting some sex offender out of the pen.

Anonymous said...

Quit your whining and bellyaching about prosecutors. If you don't like the law, then your beef is with the Legislature who WRITE the laws. As Abraham Lincoln said: "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."
The moral here is: if you've been up the river twice, you run the risk when you keep committing felonies. Stop breaking the law if you don't want to go to the pen for a long time.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To the first 9:11, so it's 'spending cuts for thee but not for me," huh?

You can always tell real conservatives from the fake ones when you get down to criminal justice politics. Anyone who says they're against Big Government should apply that philosophy consistently, or all the "government off our backs" talk looks pretty hypocritical.

To the second 9:11 - how do you think laws get changed besides agitating against the bad ones? Publicizing the strict application of a bad law, as you point out, is often the best way to get bad laws changed and that's what I'm doing.

However, that doesn't mean it wasn't irresponsible bordering on reprehensible for the prosecutor to argue for a 99 year sentence in this case.

bronxriver73 said...

Listen to this knucklehead that hates Obama, welfare and anything that doesn't come from the Bible-Thumpers handbook. Then this numbskull mentions that an herb smoker, exercising his God-given rights to smoke one of God's greatest gifts, is probably selling "marihuana" to school children. Whenever someone spells it with an "h" instead of a "j", you can bet that he is a prohibitionist lowlife. No wonder he (she? it?) signs his post "anonymous"! He should be ashamed.

RAS said...

Grits, there's an in between. Do you think it's alright to sell drugs in a school zone? The penalty he expected wasn't enough to deter him. By protecting people from 'excessive' penalties you're protecting the drug business including the drug cartels. I think the really harsh penalties should be put on the smugglers and big haulers, I think this guy should have been given six months grubbing mesquites for 12 or 14 hours a day. No work no food. Would you like to see a drug free America?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RAS asks, "Would you like to see a drug free America?"

Sure! I'd also like to see a unicorn.

However, that doesn't justify embracing outright totalitarianism, which your bizarre longing for Saudi-Arabian style theocratic rule would imply.

Anonymous said...

Grits, there's nothing inconsistent or "hypocritical" on the part of those who believe that the primary purpose of government is the defense and protection of our citizens--and the American way of life--from all threats-both foreign and domestic. Government spending should be prioritized accordingly. When you get right down to it, all of the other "feel good" social programs are luxuries that can be maintained as long as they can be afforded. If there's a choice to be made between locking up criminals or putting another man on the moon, most Americans, I would venture to guess, much prefer locking up criminals. Same for food stamps, Head Start programs, public transportation, etc. Keep us safe, and keep the drug dealers from peddling drugs to our children. We can figure out how to deal with the other problems when we can afford them. When we get to the point where we have to choose between locking up habitual drug offenders and other violent criminals, then we need to start reassessing our spending priorities. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll see people starting to take the law into their own hands and the return of vigilante justice. Surely that is not a circumstance that you would advocate? Or is it?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:20 (btw, why not adopt a handle, as a frequent commenter, just to keep anons straight?)Your mistaken premise is that "the primary purpose of government is the defense and protection of our citizens."

Nothing in the US Constitution says that. Instead, the primary purpose of government is to protect citizens' RIGHTS and their liberty. When you look at the Bill of Rights, the greater fear among the Founders wasn't of criminals but the overarching power of government for misusing criminal prosecution.

I'm not saying there aren't real conservatives - the Bill Buckleys, the Hayeks, the Friedmans, the Goldwaters - who actually believed in real, honest-to-God liberty instead of just using the theme as a prop for expanding the power of the state. But the modern, neocon philosophy you espouse IMO has more to do with RAS' call for mimicking Saudi Arabia than any of the conservative thinkers mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

Grits, you are combining/misconstruing the roles of the federal and the state governments.

Anonymous said...

Smith county is a mecca of brain dead power hungry racist bad bad people. I don't really know how these people live with themselves. They feel so big and important and they live in an armpit of America. The Jack Skeen, Files, DA triangle is a space in the sphere where people really do disappear. The person who posted that people are traded so that some can be set free is completely right. I think someone should also check out the grand jury system. Funny how the cop that burned his kid in the car was no billed, the restaurant owner that killed is sister in law was no billed and the people that are "not known" are hung! Most people really do not give a shit until it happens to them. When innocent people go to jail for crimes they didn't commit everyday there is a problem. There was also a NARC officer who ran into a telephone pole and had been drinking. They charged him with DWI but have done NOTHING since. Why is he allowed to break the law? Also the DA's office has some real winner drunks that like to drink and drive all the time. One was a notorious drunk that was known for falling off bar stools while everyone watched on in disbelief. I don't know if he is still there, but if he is I'm sure he is still a drunk going to court every day pushing for max convictions on DWI. Oh and lets not forget about the drunk judges. Cheers!

ckikerintulia said...

Anonymous 8:57, I'll be a nitpicker and suggest you learn the difference betweem "moot" and "mute." Grits explained very well why it is not a moot issue. When prisons are full, occupying a prison space with a non-violent offender means some space has to be emptied somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Lord, Lord! Grits,quit reiterating that the link is there for them to peruse, they didn't get it the first time. Obviously, they can't comprehend.
If I read correctly, this man was in his vehicle when he was stopped and subsequently arrested. Hmmm, I think the lesson to all who may find themselves in the same boat is to learn their route and know every offending (to them) business on it so that next time they will know to, say, run from the law till they are beyond the parameters of said businesses.
HE WAS NOT DEALING WITHIN 1000 FT OF PRESCHOOL! Jeeeze, talk about enhancements ... but for the grace of God I dare say not one of you couldn't get snared by this kind of word play abuse. This is exactly what is wrong with our laws today, they can be twisted and hung out to dry to support anybodies given desire of the moment!

ckikerintulia said...

Anon 8:30, Grits also explained above that "mute" doesn't mean what you think it means. Get the meanings straight or keep silent.

Anonymous said...

"I think someone should also check out the grand jury system."

I think you are right. I also have a suspicion that the DA's office is manipulating the jury system, both the grand jury and trail juries. That's how they get some of the absurd sentences they get and how they convict people when there is clearly enough evidence to establish more than reasonable doubt.

The current DA, Matt Bingham, was mentored by Skeen and is just like him, although not quite as smart.

The person who said he finds it hard to believe that someone who suborned perjury is a sitting judge would be shocked to learn about all the other things going on in Smith County. Skeen is not the only corrupt elected official in the county. They have established such a powerful political machine they can get away with just about anything. You'd be surprised how high their connections go. When the Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated complaints against Skeen, who do you think was appointed to fill the next vacancy on the Comission? None other than the Smith County Judge who is a political crony of Skeen's. The political machine also controls much of the local media, especially the Tyler paper. This is why many citizens of the county know nothing about the massive corruption. The paper for the reporter that covered the courthouse recently married an assistant DA. They did remove her from the courthouse reporting when she got married but she was involved with this guy for a long time while reporting on major cases. Of course, her reporting consisted only of what was fed to her from the DA's office. The paper only prints what the DA and Skeen want printed, nothing else.

I would say that maybe one day the citizens of the county will wake up to what's going on but I doubt that will happen. This stuff has been going on for more than 30 years and nothing has changed (See "Smith County Justice" by David Ellsworth).

bronxriver73 said...

Yo "anonymous", whassup with you? you sound like a typical bible-Banging, ignorant, Conservative knucklehead. You OBVIOUSLY never smoked a joint in your entire life! If you gave me the choice between locking up small-time offenders and putting a man on the moon, I would choose space exploration. You know, I wonder if we could explore the "space" in your head. The people that prefer locking people up, are brainwashed Conservatives like you and your kind.

"I'm afraid you'll see people starting to take the law into their own hands and the return of vigilante justice. Surely that is not a circumstance that you would advocate? Or is it"?

Hey Bubba, there's a revolution coming all right, but it's coming from the Left. I'll tell you what you should do...go home and pray to your false god that WE don't take matters into OUR own hands. Cause we will squash you, and your kind, like the bugs you are.

Anonymous said...

Here's a few other interesting bits of info about how incestuous the Smith County criminal justice system is. The Kerry Max Cook case has been called the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct in the country. Cook was first prosecuted by Skeen's predecessor in the DA's office who was Skeen's cousin, A.D. Clark. Clark now works for the attorney general's office even though it has been well established he withheld evidence, suborned perjury and committed other serious misconduct in the Cook case. This case led an innocent man to spend 20 years on death row. Clark's wife is currently a district judge in Smith County and hears most of the family cases.

By the way, Skeen was the DA when Cook was retried and though he blames all the misconduct on his cousin, he did many of the same things.

There have been many scandals involving the Smith County sheriff, JB Smith, and his department. Smith was indicted many years ago by another DA. When Skeen took office he dropped the charges. The scandals involving the sheriff's dept include: over $1 million in missing property recieved under an agreement with the US Marshal's office, jailers excepting bribes for referring inmates to a bail bondsman, bribes from the commissary vendor being funneled through an unaudited K9 account, a lieutenant buying and using drugs while on duty, and recently an officer who was caught shoplifting being rehired.

The story about the lieutenant is interesting. This guy just happened to be the chief deputy's son and was caught on tape buying drugs on duty. The story was initially kept quiet and all Smith was going to do was suspend him for a couple of weeks and make him go to counseling. When the press found out he was forced to fire the man. If the press had not learned of the story this man would still be a deputy, still using drugs while on duty, with the sheriff's knowledge.

Of course, the DA's office will not prosecute law enforcement in Smith County. A previous poster mentioned the case where the reserve police officer left his kid in the car and the child died from the heat. If this had been done by just a plain ole north Tyler citizen who was not a member of law enforcement, the DA's office would have crucified him. It is who you know and how much you can pay in Smith County. (as a side note, there was a prior case in Dallas where a daycare worker left a child in a van and the child died. I don't remember the outcome but I know she was prosecuted. Same act, different treatment under the law.)

Law enforcement in Smith County has an incestuous relationship with the DA's office and Skeen. The DA's office covers for law enforcement when they can. When there is a situation that they can't cover for them they refer the case to the AG's office. They go to great lengths to make sure they keep the law enforcement community on their side and they are rewarded with votes.

By the way, does anybody know what ever happened with the case of the handgun instructor who's kid took the gun to school?

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to see a unicorn.



V2Saturn said...

There should be an across the board sentence for these crimes. I have seen burglary of a habitation get 1 year probated in East Tx area and I see others get 35 years. There should be some across the board standard and race should have NOTHING to do with it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Bronxriver73, that "Left Wing revolution" is coming along quite nicely isn't it? Newsflash: A Republican just won the "Kennedy seat" in Massachusetts, in case you haven't heard! Or were you in some marihuana "haze" when that happened?

bronxriver73 said...

Well, if it isn't the "anonymous" man, again. And still spelling Marijuana as "marihuana", just like a character from "Reefer Madness", circa 1936.

Oh, what did you say? Hmm, I understand saw that movie and you...BELIEVED IT!!!!

Yo Bubba, the "revolution" I was talking about was not about voters, if you know what I mean. People in the South Bronx, Harlem, Bed-Stuy, Compton, or any ghetto you wanna name are becoming VERY ANGRY. If you go to the Bronx, you learn what "gun country" really means. Yuk Yuk!

RAS said...

Grits, I thought totalitarianism was a dictator like Hitler or an oligarchy like the USSR or red China; I think elected officials could pass laws setting mandatory prison limits for certain crimes but apparently our constitution doesn't allow for this.
Why do think that believing drugs should be elliminated equates to believing in a government that exists to enforce religious beliefs?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RAS writes: "I thought totalitarianism was a dictator like Hitler or an oligarchy like the USSR or red China; I think elected officials could pass laws setting mandatory prison limits for certain crimes ..."

Hitler was legally elected, that doesn't then justify all his actions.

Besides, you're the one who said he wants us to copy criminal justice policies from totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. Of course, they do it through monarchic, theocratic dictatorship, but you're telling us things would be just wonderful if America followed suit. No thanks.

Legal Chef said...

Reminds me of a story that circulated in the Dallas PD's office of an elderly African-American gentleman who was being prosecuted for several pounds of mari-huana in his trunk. "Stupidest thing I ever did," he lamented to his defender. "Dealing pot?" asked the lawyer. "No, driving through Garland."

BTW, I think your anonymous poster must be Skeen.

Petra de Jong said...

I am so very glad to live in a place where I can smoke a joint in public without being sent to prison. I do not see any reason as to why a government should concern itself with what I consider to be purely personal choices. The war on drugs costs ten times more than the costs would be if drug use was decriminalized.

doran said...

Petra de: Just where in the heck are you, anyway? Lotsa people on this thread want to know, including those hard-line anons who are just yearning to suck on a joint without the fear and paranoia of getting busted. Where. Are. You.

Petra de Jong said...

I am in The Netherlands, doran. We're not the only country in the world where marihuana use is decriminalized, though.

I smoke on or two joints a week and I buy them at a perfectly legal pot-shop down the road. The city where I live has a few hundred of these shops. A really good joint will cost you 3-10 dollars, depending on variety and strength.

You are welcome to stop by for a visit. :D Beware, though, our pot contains about 20% THC and if you are not used to that, you're bound to go out. :P

Petra de Jong said...

Oops, I exaggerated. My city has about 70 shops that legally sell pot. Amsterdam has about 200 or so, but since most of them target tourists, most of them sell crappy stuff.

doran said...

Thank you, Petra. Now for the follow-up: Have all the terrible things -- those gross, disgusting, civilization destroying things paraded by the drug prohibitionists on this thread -- come to pass in the Netherlands? Are the "drug pushers" selling to kids on the corners next to the schools? Have the drug lords just moved on to dealing something else? Have people stopped going to work and being productive?

Let us know how things are in the Netherlands. As you may know, but I doubt that some of the know-nothings on this thread have such a clue -- the Netherlands was the first nation to officially recognize/salute the revolutionary United States of America. [You know, that USA where it was common for founding fathers and founding brothers to smoke hemp before the crazies took over.] Barbara Tuchman wrote a very good book about it: "The First Salute" takes off on the Dutch guns firing a ritual salute on November 16, 1776 when a ship flying the ensign of the Continental Congress entered the port of St. Eustatius in the Dutch West Indies. In case anyone hasn't said so in the past 200+ years, Thank You.

Petra de Jong said...

Hey doran,

No, The Netherlands has not succumbed to the evils you mentioned. We have far fewer "problem users" than the US does.

In most jurisdictions, pot shops have to be more than 200 yards away from any school. Of course, as anywhere, drugs are sold to minors, but not from the pot shops. You have to show your ID there and be at least 18 years of age.

The drug lords are selling other stuff, sure. I wish they'd legalize all drugs, it would solve a lot of problems. Legalizing drugs does not mean that more people are going to get addicted. Research indicates the opposite is true! Part of the attractiveness of drugs to especially young people lies in the mere fact that is is forbidden.

By the way, even the possession of a small quantity (enough for personal use) of XTC, cocaine, magic mushrooms, LSD etc. will not get you a jail sentence. At the utmost you will get a fine, but no criminal record.

There is such a thing as responsible drug use. Addiction is not in a drug, it is in your personality (and there are many drugs to which you cannot get addicted even if you wanted to, such as LSD). Some people are prone to addiction where others are not. Oh, and did I mention that alcohol is just about the worst drug out there, if you judge it by negative effects? Alcohol is only surpassed by heroine and crystal meth when it comes to negative effects on people and society.

Oh, and you are MOST welcome. Haha! :)

Rex Thompson said...

I practice criminal defense law in Smith County, and have for 16 years. Before that I was an Assistant DA in Smith County for 4 years. No doubt our community hands out sentences that would seem severe in other jurisdictions. We have a very conservative jury pool and the judiciary and DA reflect that. As I understand it, Mr. Wooten (the defendant in the case that began this thread) had a couple of felony priors. That made his minimum sentence 25 years. So the lawyer for Mr. Wooten actually did a pretty fair job getting him 35.

I can tell you that the economics of incarceration, or the trade-off between jailing non-violent offenders and violent ones NEVER enters into the discussion or plea bargain negotiations. Our jury pool just doesn't care about the costs. They are much more concerned with separating accused citizens from their liberty.

Its the reality we deal with on a daily basis. We fight hard and then we appeal. Our local defense bar has reversed the trial judges here several times recently on various issues. We continue to try and educate the public, but it is a slow process.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Rex, the 25-year minimum is a function of prosecutorial discretion. The ADA was not required to pursue that enhancement, correct?

Anonymous said...

A prosecutor does have the discretion to allege or not allege prior offenses for purposes of sentencing enhancement. With that said, the Legislature obviously created the punishment scheme for repeat and habitual offenders for a reason and many prosecutors don't feel inclined to simply ignore the law. Offenders who persistently violate the law are a risky proposition at best for prosecutors who might feel inclined to give someone a break. While it's true that repeat drug offenders are a completely different animal from repeat sex offenders or repeat murderers, the first time one of these habitual offender druggies goes off and commits some serious crime, the first thing you'll read in the media is how some prosecutor had an opportunity to lock this guy up and merely game him a "slap on the wrist."

By the same token, lots of times a defendant will be indicted as a habitual or repeat offender for the prosecutor in order to gain some leverage in plea bargaining. In other words, the defendant can be charged as a 3 time offender facing that 25 year punishment minimum, but then one of the "enhancement" paragraphs can be abandoned from the indictment and the case bumped back down to a second or third degree felony punishment range if the defendant wants to cut a deal and plead guilty. I've seen plenty of instances where someone facing the 25 year minimum pleads to an agreed sentence somewhere in the 10-15 year range. On the other hand, if a defendant wants to roll the dice and go to trial, most prosecutors are going to stick with the applicable punishment for that defendant as established by the Legislature. I'm guessing that's very likely what happened on that case from Smith County.

Anonymous said...

Those conservative Smith County jurors would do well to open those Bibles once in a while or wake up in church once in a while.

"For all have sinned..." One thing I've learned is that none of us are really any better than others. I would bet that a large percentage of those Smith County jurors have committed a crime or 2 in their lives. It might have been the kind that is rarely investigated or prosecuted, white collar crime. White collar crime is just as rampant as drug crime but its committed by those in power (or in the group that is in power) so it goes unpunished. Or maybe they were driving home drunk from the county line while thinking how nice it is to live a dry county and were just lucky enough not to get caught. Or maybe they cheated on their taxes, forgot to remove that gun from their truck in a school zone, etc, etc.

"For all have sinned..." But some people belong to a group that has the power to judge and punish other sinners. That doesn't make them any better, they are still sinners just the same. The criminal justice system is less about detering crime and more about enforcing a social structure where certain groups have the poweer to judge, punish, and control other groups.

I believe in colonial times, and still in the military, adultery was a criminal offense. How many of those conservative Smith County jurors would be in prison if adultery was still a crime? "For all have sinned..." I think I could make an argument that adultery is just as harmful to families and children as drugs.

I wonder how many police officers in Smith County are using drugs. I bet the number would surprise some people. "For all have sinned..."

If the conservative jurors of Smith County are so concerned about punishing criminals why do they allow criminals like Skeen and Bingham to remain in office?

The Smith County sheriff doesn't take drug use very seriously. He was going to allow an officer to remain in his position as a lieutenant after having been caught buying and selling drugs while on duty, until the public found out about it. Yet, the conservative jurors and voters reelected the sheriff. Doesn't that seem a little hypocritical?

Or, could it be your socioeconomic status, color of skin, what part of town you live in, who your relatives are, how much money you have, how well connected you are, or other factors that determine whether you are worthy of mercy in Smith County?

Anonymous said...

By the way, I'm still wondering if anyone knows what happened in the case of the handgun instructor whose Kindegartener took one of his guns to school.

CharityLee said...

The only reason marijuana is illegal is because back in early part of this century the paper companies lobbied Washington to have hemp made illegal as it was cutting into their profits. Since hemp and marijauna are related a publicity campaign was started to scare the nation about the dangers of pot so the nation would demand the shutting down of hemp/THC production. The only reasons it is still illegal are because people are still buying into the "madness" proproganda and it makes state's coffers swell from all the wasted time the cops spend enforcing archaic laws made for financial gain. Alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than marijuana but no way that will ever be illegal again because states make too much money off the liquor tax. Why not do the same with marijuana? Having spent a lot of time in Amsterdam I can attest the city is not running rampant with violent druggies. A druggie will be a druggie whether it is legal or not. Legalization could actually curb the use of pot by minors, increase funding for drug rehab programs, free of valuable law enforcement time for serious crimes such as murder and rape, maybe domestic violence. You know, the crimes where people actually get hurt.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that Grits was secretly paid by the Smith County Chamber of Commerce to start this thread. All you paranoid, anti-establishment dope smokers are doing is making the overwhelming majority of law abiding Texans think Smith County sounds like a really great place to live and raise kids! Don't be surprised if they invite you to the Tyler Chamber Banquet this year, Grits!

Anonymous said...

"making the overwhelming majority of law abiding Texans think Smith County sounds like a really great place to live and raise kids!"

If that's true its a sad commentary on the citizenry of Texas. I would hope that the majority of law abiding citizens of the state don't approve of public corruption, judges that don't believe in the constitution or the rule of law, district attorneys that will lie, cheat, and steal to win, corrupt law enforcement, and jurors who assume that if you are in court you must be guilty and proceed to follow every word of the prosecutor like the stupid sheep they are and ignore anything the defense has to say.

Believe it or not innocent people do get accused of crimes. Unfortunately, if you happen to find yourself in that predicament in Smith County you have zero chance of a fair trial. If you are unlucky enough to land in Skeen's court you are likely to have ridiculously excessive bail set. At trial the rules of evidence and the law will be ignored and the judge will manipulate the trial to make sure the DA's office wins.

This isn't coming from paranoia. These are things I have witnesssed with my own eyes. I actually have never used an illegal drug in my life. I consider myself politically conservative. I was falsely accused of a crime by the Smith County DA's office. An investigator in the office filed a false affidavit committing perjury. Bingham knew the investigator was committing perjury and I believe he did so at Bingham's direction. I was taken before Skeen who set a ridiculous bond. I was told by 2 different defense attorneys I would not get a fair trial in Skeen's court. Based on the history I knew about him and his behavior in setting bond and his inappropriately close relationship with the DA's office I knew they were right. I hired an attorney they were afraid of and managed to get the charges lowered in a plea deal. I pled guilty to something I didn't do because I knew Bingham was determined to send me to prison for something I didn't do. As part of the deal I was required to sign a letter written by the attorneys. Bingham made sure the press got the letter and lied on TV. He knew I was innocent. He knew the letter was a complete lie. Bingham is a low life, lying, scum. He is a criminal as bad as any in the Smith County Jail. The fact that someone who can lie as easily as this man is a district attorney should scare you.

Don't think this could happen to you? If that sounds like the kind of place you want to live, go ahead, move to Smith County, you never know.

Just ask Patrick Kelly. In his trial Skeen violated multiple rules of evidence and ignored the law in all kinds of ways. Throw in the DA's office hiding a witness, a lying Texas Ranger along with a crooked judge and well... There was way beyond reasonable doubt in that case but the stupid sheep on the jury quickly convicted him. After seeing what happened in that case I realized I made the right decision in pleading guilty. Still, its a tough thing to live with sometimes.

One thing I know, they will have to answer to a higher power one day and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes on that day.

Call me paranoid if you want but I've seen these thugs in action. If you want to live in a place run by people like that there is truly something wrong with you.

One more thing, like I said, I consider myself politically conservative. Part of that means I believe in the constitution. I believe it should apply equally to everyone. It amazes me how many so called conservatives are ready to throw it away when its the rights of someone else on the line.

bronxriver73 said...

Well, well, if it isn't that "mine of information" that calls himself "Anonymous" because he's too scared to reveal his name. What a pussy!

So you think that Smith "Conservatives only" County is a good place to raise kids, eh? Well, since you are a Bible-banger with no brains, I understand. You are so brainwashed, it's a shame.

Personally, I think that the Eastern half of your state is an intellectual wasteland. At least West Texas is mostly Latins. So why don't you take your Eastern half of the state, and secede, as your dumb-ass governor keeps threatening (promising) to do. You scumbags will not be missed.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so the guy was convicted of possesion and some other NON VIOLENT charge over twenty years ago. Now, he is found to be smoking pot, has a relatively small amount on him, and some scales in the car indicating he probably sells some. He was within a thousand feet of a daycare--obviously betraying his intent to sell that pot to the preschoolers ensconced therein.

For this, he deserves to spend the rest of his life in the "pen-uh-ten-shu-ree", right? And anyone who thinks otherwise is one of them there dope lovin, commie liberals who don't support God, America and apple pie family values, by golly! And the "overwhelming majority" of Texans think that is just fine and dandy?

Well, you may be right, I don't know--but I am a Texan, my parents were Texans, my grandparents and great grandparents were Texans, and none of them would have approved of this kind of small minded viciousness and vindictive "overkill" to further political aims.

I'd sure a lot rather some old hippie with some pot and those horribly dangerous "priors" of his be within 1000 feet of my kid's daycare than some rapist or murderer be let out to prey upon them for REAL. Yet as grits said and I have seen with my own eyes, these people are released every day to make more room for the endless string of drug convictions--because that's what small minded people want.

And just as a final remark--what, exactly, is the fear that this man would provoke by being within a "day care" zone? Frankly, most people are probably not even aware of the whereabouts of daycare centers unless they use them--many operate out of private homes--so I doubt the guy deliberately chose this location. Secondly, what harm does he pose to the toddlers down the road, precisely? This is not a high school--it's a DAYCARE. And even if it WERE a high school, do you honestly think that the kids are going to say "Awwww shucks! There's no old hippies within a thousand feet of the school sellin' dope, gang! Guess we'll hafta quit smoking that wacky weed after all--gee whiz!"

The attempts that modern society makes to protect it's citizens from the evil of DRUGS is truly remarkable--and completely and totally ineffective. Every time I see another big drug bust on TV, with the proud cops posing with their haul as the criminals are being cuffed and beaten senseless to the tune of "stop resisting!", I think "Do they truly not see what a massive waste this is"?

Anonymous said...

A 35 year sentence for having slightly over a quarter pound of weed? You have to be kidding me! I don't care if he had a brand new box of zip locks in his possession as well. This is absurd and what's further disturbing is that it sounds like some other attorneys are attempting to justify this sentence.
I'm glad their Law Degrees are serving them well, for those folks, didn't they teach you common sense in Law School? Obviously not, you will be the same folks defending the parole boards decision to release the DA from Rockwall after only serving 20 months on a 15 year sentence! Their probably all prosecutors as well. Thats all we need to know, as a group your heads are permanently stuck up your rear ends. I can't believe the rationalizing and justifying going on to defend this sentence, enhanced or not it's wrong!!

Anonymous said...

After reading further, I can't believe we don't have more prison riots. Priors or no priors, school zone, "digital scales", who cares, he had a little over a quarter pound of weed. This is a grandiose display of IGNORANCE! Leave the molesters of any kind locked away and leave the pot heads alone.

Rex Thompson said...

Grits you are absolutely correct that the prosecutor doesn't have to add the prior felonies. It is discretionary. The reality, at least in Smith County, is that the priors are almost always used to enhance punishment. Believe me, I am not "standing up" for the way citizens are aggresively prosecuted in my town, but it seems some of your post-ers are more interested in the sound of their own voice than constructive debate. Then again, that's just my opinion.

Great blog. I rely on it daily. BTW, I think I know your dad.

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised that some Yankee from the Bronx is so inarticulate and foul-mouthed? Now that's a real sign of intellect! I'm sure his/her momma is very proud! So what grade did we drop out of school, Bronx? Third? Sixth? Eighth? I'm guessing high school was never in the picture. It is, however, quite amusing that New York has evidently turned into Utopia and you have nothing better to do with your abundance of idle time than worry about what goes on in Texas. Hey, by the way, what's this we hear about your current and former governor's becoming candidates for sainthood??? What is that you say? They're both corrupt Democrats? Hmmm, maybe Texas is not such a bad place after all!

Anonymous said...

A prosecutorial minded criminal defense attorney. How surprising! Another part of the huge problem in Smith County.

bronxriver73 said...

Well, hello to you too, Mr. Anon. Inarticulate and foul-mouthed? Only when I want to be. You see, in my business, you have to wear two hats. By day, I'm a Production Manager at a large apparel firm. By night, I'm a DJ. My garment center self has to be aggressive, assertive. That way I can negotiaite the price I wanna pay for materials I need to manufacture and ship my fashions to the store. Then we can get it there first, before the others. The garment industry is a cut-throat business. My DJ side is very positive and wants to dance and party. I let you see my Business side.

I'm afraid you're mistaken about my education, I'm a college grad that majored in design. And I have better things to do than insult your state, believe me I do. I just showed up when I read that story about the 35 years. When I saw the link, I clicked on this blog, and I saw the opinions on here, most of them reasonable. But when I saw your opinion, it seemed as if you got great joy that some foolish dude is being crucified just to advance a Conservative agenda. How cold-blooded of you! You know, it seems as if the people that call themselves "Christian", preaching about love, can be so hard-core when it comes to punishing a non-believer.

As for my Governor, he is actually a good man. His only mistake was to go against the powers that be, who wanted Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate Seat. He chose Gillibrand, who the power structure didn't want, because they feared she was a lightweight. Oh, and by the way, Gov. Patterson do you say?...INTELLIGENT...on the subject of Marijuana legalization. As is Gov. Richardson of New Mexico. When the legislatures of these two states passed Medical Marijuana Bills, both Governors signed them with out blinking. I'd like to see your Governor do that! Ha! Besides which, It's YOUR Governor who thinks that he's a saint. Because, you know, you Conservatives are always right, and we Liberals are always wrong. That's all that comes out of your mouths.
And, if you will notice, Gov. Patterson didn't equivocate about the fact that he used to smoke herb, and blow some coke, and had affairs with others, as did his wife. I only wish you so-called "Christians" could appreciate honesty, instead of deceit, which you people seem to prefer.

Me--move to Texas?!!! No, thank you, I'll stay where I am, if you don't mind. At least my state never had slavery legal, like your state did. And you have the nerve to put MY state down? With that blood on your hands, you can't say shit to me.

Anonymous said...

It is time for prohibition to end!

RAS said...

Bronx, honesty about dishonesty? Tamany Hall, Boss Tweed, Mafia dons, Gangs of New York, immigrant sweat shops, bureaucrats taking bribes as a job perk, officials dealing with unions through the mafia, Jay Gould, Vanderbilt, John D.; nothing to be ashamed of there.

bronxriver73 said...

"Bronx, honesty about dishonesty? Tamany Hall, Boss Tweed, Mafia dons, Gangs of New York, immigrant sweat shops, bureaucrats taking bribes as a job perk, officials dealing with unions through the mafia, Jay Gould, Vanderbilt, John D.; nothing to be ashamed of there".

Bubba, coming from a state that had poll taxes, Jim Crow laws, "Separate but Equal" bathrooms, KKK (I'll take a Mafia Don ANY day of the week over an inbred, pointy-hat wearing, hillbilly in white sheets), Confederate Flags (the epitome of racism, and sadly, your heritage) and...SLAVERY, believe me, you can never disturb my conscience. Slavery...I mean, really, YOU people can never, EVER live that down. I'm gonna tell you something--President Lincoln (that name must stick in your craw!) made a serious mistake. He wanted to keep you redneck animals in the Union. If I was President, and you threatened to secede because we wanted you to stop enslaving human beings, I would have told you :

Go on, GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!! And don't come back!

I guarantee that within two years, you dumb-ass yokels would've been on your hands and knees, BEGGING to rejoin the Union. WE had all the industry, knowledge, and money. You hayseeds had NOTHING!

Petra de Jong said...

Are we redoing the Civil War here? :D

Gritsforbreakfast said...

bronxriver - Texas was not in the Union when the US Constitution sanctioned slavery. Blame the Founding Fathers and the original 13 states for that - Texas' just followed their lead.

Also, Lincoln didn't want to end slavery - he did so reluctantly as a tactic after the war began, but look at his speeches running for office and he promised six ways from Sunday he would never do so. You're giving him tremendous credit for what was essentially a politically motivated flip flop.

In my experience, racism in the north is generally worse than racism in the South. Here it's occasionally more explicit, but in the north it's more pervasive and entrenched because so many of you are in denial. Or perhaps Yankees just enjoy looking down their noses at southerners so much they can't find a mirror to examine their own region's flaws. But someone who lives in a segregated southern town can always move, while in Boston, Philly, NYC, etc., racism is just as intense but impossible to flee.

bronxriver73 said...

Mr. Gritsforbreakfast, I respectfully disagree. I lived for a time in Florida and, believe me, unlike in New York, Black and White aren't together at all in the Sunshine State. I apologize if I insulted your state of Texas, but that redneck was really annoying me, so I had to pull his coat.

There was much prejudice in my fathers time, but you must understand, things were different in the 1940s and 1950s. My generation, the Baby Boomers, were the first ones that really crossed the color line in earnest. So, when I encounter someone from my generation that wasn't moved by the Civil Rights movement, or Woodstock or the Counter-culture in general, well, I consider that person a traitor. One of my prejudices I suppose.

RAS said...

Damn Bronx, I swear I freed my slaves as soon as I was told it was wrong by the local carpetbagger. ( My ancestors arrived in 1890.)

RAS said...

Damn Bronx, I swear I freed my slaves as soon as I was told it was wrong by the local carpetbagger. ( My ancestors arrived in 1890.)

RAS said...

Bronx, you're right about the North having everything. They had the textile mills, the South had the cotton, the nation had export taxes on cotton and import prohibition on textile mills. The South didn't leave over slavery, they left because of laws that kept them indentured servants to the North, who were in a position to dictate the price of cotton. Which was kept at so low a price that growers couldn't afford to get rid of slaves whether they wanted to or not.

bronxriver73 said...


Hey, that other guy was right, it looks like we ARE fighting the Civil War. We started on reefer and we wound up here. Pretty soon, we gonna be fighting the battle between the Monitor and the Virginia (Merrimack). I gotta admit, that submarine you had, the Hunley, was more advanced than anything they had from the Northern States. Imagine a sub in 1864! That shit was BAAADD! (meaning good)

Listen, I won't make fun of your state if you don't make fun of mine. But, as far as smoking herb is concerned, I just don't understand why anybody my age or younger would be so against something that gives me so much pleasure. Something that, no matter how you look at it, ain't all that bad, not even for teenagers. If you grew up in this liberated era, you must've been friendly with somebody who gets high on herb, instead of liquor. You couldn't have been THAT sheltered! Believe me, when I say that alcohol is MUCH worse than herb, I not playing, I'm serious as cancer. The death and destruction caused by alcohol use is unbelievable. That's why I never liked to drink too much. Always got me sick. Ditto with coke, never cared for it. Hard drugs were nice if you only do it once or twice. Again, too dangerous. Sniffing glue?!!! Forget that! 'Ludes are alright but they're addictive.

The only reason that I never succumbed to these drugs was because I have extremely strong willpower. Once I say no, that's it.

That leaves herb, the safest, least habit forming of all drugs. Has no counter-action with ANY medication. Like Coca-Cola, things go better with herb.

RAS said...

That's the problem; I know quite a few and it affects their job choices(options) as well as their ambition to be self supporting as in free of dependence on Earned Income Credit, food stamps, moving frequently to avoid paying 4 or 5 months of utility bills. I smoked when I was in the navy but then I grew up and quit playing 'Go hide behind the barn.' I realize the use is too widespread to stop now but I also know this country would be way better off without it.

Anonymous said...

To bronxriver73...

It's more fun making fun of your state........BTW, don't blame your governor either, he's just doing what typical New York politicians do.

bronxriver73 said...

Mr. Ras, didn't it ever occur to you that some of these people who let drugs (or sex, or gambling, or overeating, etc.) affect their thinking or behaviour are just "slackers" to begin with. Having grown up in the ghetto, I knew a lot of lowlifes. It has been my experience that most of these guys are fuck-ups because it's easier to be that way. They would go around lowlifing whether they used drugs (or sex, or gambling) or not. Since I, and MOST others are able to control ourselves, why should we be punished because of somebody else's screw-ups?

Another thing, don't you understand that some people "depend on Earned Income Credit, food stamps", and not being able to pay utility bills because they are POOR?
I know that it's difficult for a Conservative to understand that not everybody is successful, but that's the way life is in the real world. And then that shit about, "growing up", meaning you stopped getting high and became Conservative. And I never "hid behind the barn", either. I've always been proud that I smoke herb. A true "grown-up" realizes the world is full of different cultures and accepts it. Why don't you?

By the way, "Evangelical Christianity" is too widespread to stop, and I know that this country would be MUCH BETTER OFF without it. But, as a grown-up. I accept it. I just don't associate with them.

By the way, that "anonymous" character is still running his mouth about New York politicians. Well, I'm still waiting for your Governor Perry to admit to his youthful indiscretions, but, believe me, I won't hold my breath. He thinks that he can walk on water!

Anonymous said...

"A true "grown-up" realizes the world is full of different cultures and accepts it. Why don't you?"

Here's what I accept. I'm too poor to be a Republican and too smart to be a Democrat. That leaves being Independent. Which are you?

bronxriver73 said...

Yo Bubba, I am neither a Republican (scumbags), or a Democrat (jellyfish). A Scumbag : a person that tries to shove morality down someone else's throat and sides with management over labor. A Jellyfish : someone that lets Republicans and so-called Christians get away with it.

I am not a peaceful hippie that's waiting for society to evolve. I believe in revolution, not evolution. I am a Socialist.

RAS said...

Bronx, a lot of fuz brains don't pay their bills because they spend their money on dope. Elliminating dope won't elliminate slackers but it will significantly reduce their numbers. All of those socialist programs you mentioned also enable the slackers. Nothing creates a work ethic like hunger, just ask Swift about the yahoos.

bronxriver73 said...

Alright, so you believe most people become slackers because of drugs and I believe most slackers are that way because that is who they are. We just believe different things, that's all.

Socialist programs may enable some lazy folks but, they also help out many poor people that are down and out. I've been there, that's why I'm a Socialist. To me, it's wrong when society allows one person to have a very large house while another man has no house. That's why President Obama, while not being perfect, was a better choice than the Republicans. (Actually, I wanted Dennis Kucinich to win)

If the rich have to pay more for healthcare than I do, so be it. They'll get over it, believe me.

RAS said...

Bronx, if the price is too high they'll get out, then who'll pay for it? Do you think the Kennedy's and Rockefellers are going to tax themselves into the middle class? There will be tax dodges to protect the super rich, the upper middle class will be the ones hammered.

bronxriver73 said...

Well, I could say that if I were in charge, I would enforce a Socialist system. Under that regime, I would do as Castro did:

Allow the rich leave the country, but they take with them only the clothes on their back. Their money and property will stay here and be divided among the working-class.

However, since I'm never gonna be the dictator, I will have to give up on that pipe dream. I'll just light up a bowl of herb and have a different pipe dream. Perhaps the one where I take Raquel Welch to bed and she gives me her booty!

RAS said...

Exactly,exactly, the big money makers left, they ran out of the money Castro took, they are dirt poor, 40 0r 50 years behind the capitalist world; just like what happenned to the Soviet Union.

bronxriver73 said...

Yeah, that's right but, I ain't Castro or Stalin. There would be no Soviet-style country, not under my rule, that's for sure. It would be more like New York in the 1970s.
Now, that was paradise!

Too bad you weren't there, you really missed it. Herb was everywhere! Everybody could just be themself in those days. Bible-Bangers were nice and docile, just the way we like them. Even the cops
were reasonable. And the KKK kept their mouths shut, for a change.

Not only that but, it was the welfare state. If you needed help quickly, you got it. Sure there was abuse of the system but, name one system that isn't abused. You always gonna have knuckleheads, no matter what you prohibit. Reefer. Gambling. Prostitution. Alcohol. It'a all the same result. You always wind up punishing the innocent because you can't catch the guilty. And the death and destruction it causes, it is unnecessary.

All of this because a certain segment of society wants to impose it's morality on others. To me, these anti-drug warriors are vile
and disgusting. With every bit of scientific evidence on our side, these creatures refuse to accept it and continue to their destruction.

Time will tell who's side God is on: The peaceful pot smoker or the "Christian" that wants to blot him out. I think the answer to that one is easy.

Charlie O said...

What's with all this "selling to the children" crap? There's no evidence he sold anything to any child. Hell, the guy was over 50 years old. You people drag this "it's for the children" crap out to defend every stupid thing that government does. It's a red herring.

bronxriver73 said...

I agree, I've been hearing that crap all my life. For example:

"It's the wrong message to send to the children"

"I stand with law enforcement"

"If alcohol is so bad, and we have problems with it, then why should we legalize two dangerous substances"?

"I hate the sin, not the sinner".

"Marijuana is a gateway drug".

"Pot smoking is mentally addictive"

"Reefer clouds your judgement".

There are many more examples of this stupidity but, I don't have the time to list them all.

Vox Populi said...

That's SO fucked up. Will anyone be helping him appeal?

Anonymous said...

I find the comment here about Tyler and pot disturbing. Tyler has had a drug problem(?) for along time. I grew up in Tyler 35 years ago and drugs were everywhere. And yes the courts do punish North Tyler folks harder. On this stiff sentence people are quick to judge but fail to understand how bad this can be. If your child decides to smoke a little pot do you want a DA that is quick to make a statement? I am in a situation where my child was arrested on serious charges made up by an arresting police officer. We tried to discuss with this officer but his mind was made up that this was a major crime. We live in Williamson County and are scared to death. When punishment becomes the focus instead of justice do we win?