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July 7, 2011

Willie Nelson sweet plea deal for pot possession goes up in smoke

This New York Times piece, headlined "Case of Willie Nelson Pot Bust Isn’t Extinguished Yet," reports on the latest notable turn of events in a high-profile pot possession case.  Here are the details:

The seemingly routine occurrence of Willie Nelson’s being found in possession of marijuana has stoked a small conflagration in a Texas county where a judge says she will not permit what she sees as the lenient punishment of this singer by an overly deferential prosecutor.

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

“He’s supposed to file the charge he feels is appropriate,” Judge Dean-Walker said of Mr. Bramblett in a telephone interview.  “Not what he feels he should do for his favorite singer. It is up to the judge to agree or not.”  Judge Dean-Walker added, “If you’re not going to do it for the guy in the corner, why do it for a celebrity?”

Mr. Nelson was arrested at a border stop in Sierra Blanca, Tex., on Nov. 26 when a Border Patrol agent there smelled marijuana on the musician’s tour bus.  Though agents said they had found about six ounces of marijuana on the bus, Mr. Bramblett later said that weight included containers and paraphernalia, and that the total amount of the drug was about three ounces.

The case drew headlines in March when Mr. Bramblett said Mr. Nelson could plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge if he paid a small fine and sang “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in court.  Judge Dean-Walker quickly responded that she would not accept such an arrangement.

In June Mr. Bramblett said Mr. Nelson had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia and would pay a $500 fine and about $280 in court costs. But on Friday Reuters reported that the judge would not accept this deal, either.

Judge Dean-Walker said on Tuesday that Mr. Bramblett previously asked to have Mr. Nelson’s charge reduced to a Class C misdemeanor and that she had refused. She added that Mr. Bramblett “has made a habit of speaking with the press before anything has been resolved.”...

Judge Dean-Walker said she was not concerned that the disagreement over Mr. Nelson’s plea was denying the singer his due process. “At no point do I have to let him off,” the judge said. “If Willie Nelson gets off with nothing, I’m not going to be part of it.”

July 7, 2011 at 12:18 AM | Permalink

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Comments

i think the febs might want to have a little talk with this idiot judge. consideirng the so-called "BORDER STOP" was what 50-100 MILES INSIDE THE BORDER! they might not want to piss off a world famous singer with plenty of cash and fans around the world who might take them to the cleaners!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 7, 2011 3:22:14 PM

Legalize mj and tax it . Lord knows we need the extra tax dollars .

Posted by: Norm | Jul 8, 2011 8:33:25 AM

It seems obvious that the Judge is overstepping her bounds in this case. The basic civics lesson that applies here is that the judicial branch of government interprets the laws and the executive branch enforces the laws. If the District Attorney wishes to enforce the case by dropping all charges in the interest of justice, he is entitled to do so. The position of the Judge is to see that constitutional guidelines are maintained in the handling of such an event. It certainly seems that a 72 year old man who is still gainfully employed and hard at work touring the country and performing for appreciative audiences is not being harmed by the effects of cannabis use. This is the cause of justice that should allow for a diminished sentence, and not anything related to fame or public notoriety. In short, this is a case of an activist judge overstepping her boundaries.

Posted by: Keith Cannon | Jul 8, 2011 10:14:44 PM

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