If the simple pot possession case against Willy Nelson is any measure, West Texas justice appears based on some fundamental differences from the rest of the country. While such minor charges are generally handled by mail, Hudspeth County’s judge Becky Dean-Walker has demanded that the star appear before her in her courtroom. Now, County Attorney Kit Bramblett is joining in on the fun with Nelson by offering a plea only if Nelson sings “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court. I hate to be a cold blanket, but find this neither funny nor tolerable for a legal system. Both the judge and the prosecutor appear to be intoxicated by celebrity crime.
It is hard to believe that this story is true, but it is widely being reported. The combination of forcing an appearance on a minor charge and the demand to perform undermines the integrity of both the court system and the legal profession. It appears Hudspeth is the Texas variation of Chutzpah.
In the article below, Bramblett is quoted as saying “I’m gonna let him plead, pay a small fine and he’s gotta sing ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’ with his guitar right there in the courtroom.” He is further quoted saying “You bet you’re ass I ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson.” Nice. For her part, Dean-Walker is insisting on seeing the celebrity in West Texas on a simple pot possession claim. Obviously, she will magnify the unprofessional appearance in the case if she were to accept a plea involving the performance for the pleasure of the prosecutor. This is an extension of the growing trend in abuse, improvised justice in the United States. For a prior column, click here. Nelson is not some dancing bear for the prosecutor to toy with — anymore than the other citizens abused by humiliating sentences.
If these facts are correct as widely reported, there should be an investigation by the bar of both the role of the prosecutor and the court. Dean-Walker can still redeem herself by treating Nelson like other defendants and sanctioning the prosecutor if he did in fact demand this condition for a settlement.
I am a big country music fan and I have always felt a twinge of guilty about liking Beer For My Horses, which seems to glorify hangings. (It hasn’t stopped me from putting it on my Ipod). This case seems to bear out his view of Texas justice:
Grandpappy told my pappy, back in my day, son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys
Hang them high in the street for all the people to see that
I have no problem if a prosecutor asks a singer to come to town and sing as a gesture but to combine this desire with a formal demand in a settlement shows incredibly poor judgment. I like Nelson’s music, but no prosecutor or judge should turn the legal system into performance art.
Source: Daily Mail