An important legal breakthrough for anyone in Ouachita and Morehouse parishes facing prosecution for drugs and/or weapons charges: your charges will be dismissed if you sweat.
So says no less an authority than 4th Judicial District Attorney Jerry L. Jones.
According to Jones, if you are a grave digger, a landscaper, bricklayer, carpenter, roofer, highway construction worker, or anyone involved in a myriad of occupations and endeavors that result in your exposure to sun and sweat, you are good to go with illegal weapons or the drug of your choice.
Hell, even if you’re a jogger, a tennis player, or an Alabama Crimson Tide football player, you get a free pass on drugs and weapons charges. Like fishing in the hot sun? Grilling out on July 4 is certain to get those sweat pores working overtime. But don’t worry. By the newly defined legal standards of the 4th JDC District Attorney’s office, sweat is like a Get Out of Jail Free card in the real-live game of Monopoly.
Did you break a sweat trying to chase the garbage collector down the street in your robe because you were a little late taking out the trash? Don’t worry about it. Both you and the garbage collector are good to go; you’re both outside, working up a sweat while Jones is in his air-conditioned office. Light up, wave that gun around, do a line. Together. Jones won’t prosecute. He said so himself.
This is the logic Jones himself expressed in dismissing charges against two Alabama football players who happen to call the Monroe area home.
All-Southeastern Conference offensive tackle Cam Robinson of West Monroe and reserve defensive back Laurence “Hootie” Jones of Monroe were arrested after a Monroe police officer smelled marijuana coming from their parked car in a closed public park. The officer spotted a handgun in Jones’ lap. A search of the car produced marijuana and a handgun that had been reported stolen in Baldwin County, Alabama.
Baldwin County is immediately east of Mobile County and includes the cities of Gulf Shores, Foley, Loxley and Orange Beach.
Prosecutor Neal Johnson of the DA’s office first said there was insufficient evidence in court documents to proceed with charges. Hence, there would be no grand jury and no bill of information from the DA’s office. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/somehow–bizarre-and-clumsy-handling-of-alabama-players-could-be-justice-001548496-ncaaf.html
Had Jones let it go at that, the decision not to prosecute probably would have received little attention. After all, who better to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial than prosecutors themselves?
But Jones, inflicted with a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth, just couldn’t shut up when shutting up would have been the prudent path to follow.
“I want to emphasize once again,” he told KNOE-TV in Monroe, “that the main reason I’m doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and teenage years working and sweating while we were all in the air conditioning.” (Emphasis added). http://theadvocate.com/news/16165207-65/report-da-drops-drug-weapons-charges-against-alabama-football-players-louisiana-natives-cam-robinson
So there you have it. You work and sweat and Jones will look the other way. Hell, you might even be allowed to rob a bank except that’s a federal offense over which Jones has no authority. So, instead, go knock over a convenience store. Just make sure you’re sweating when you do so.
Unanswered (unasked, actually) was the obvious question: How many persons has Jones prosecuted on similar drugs and weapons charges who did not happen to be members of a big-time collegiate football program?
How many non-football-playing black kids from Monroe’s low-income, unemployed population are housed in the Ouachita Correctional Center for the sin of being caught with a single marijuana cigarette?
Well, an Internet post on the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Web page in August 2012 lists the results of the Ouachita Parish Task Force seizures:
- 4 ounces of marijuana;
- 13 marijuana cigarettes;
- 60 one-eighth-ounce bags of marijuana;
- Three quarter-ounce bags of marijuana;
Just last week, A West Monroe man (gasp) drove through a private parking lot to avoid a stop sign. He gave officers his consent to search his backpack and a vitamin bottle was found to contain “one to two grams” of marijuana and a marijuana smoking pipe. He was booked into the correctional center.
In 2014, Bernard Noble, 48, was sentenced to 13 years of hard labor for possession of the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes. Neither Noble nor the West Monroe man played football and probably did not sweat until they were arrested. http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2014/04/louisianan-given-13-year-prison-sentence-possession-two-marijuana-cigarettes
We stumbled across an online report that admittedly, is rather dated but interesting nonetheless. In 2007, there were 18,535 arrests for marijuana offenses in Louisiana. That represents an arrest rate of 432 per 100,000, which ranks Louisiana at number 5 in the nation.
(We have to keep those private prisons occupied for their owners somehow.)
While we’re in no position to challenge Johnson’s contention of insufficient evidence, Jones’s justification for not prosecuting the two is certainly sufficient reason for demanding his resignation and disbarment. No one, not even an idiot like Jones, should be able to use sweat as a barometer for deciding whether or not to enforce the law with a blind eye to social status or celebrity.
In the case of Jones and the 4th JDC District Attorney’s office, justice isn’t blind; it’s stoned—stoned on the deranged notion that certain among us are above the law.