by Trent Knuckles
My latest reason to lack faith in our local courts unfolded last week.
It all centers around Tim Lavender, an attorney from McCreary County, who was arrested FOUR YEARS AGO for driving drunk, with a vehicle full of liquor bottles and supposedly causing a three-car crash near Williamsburg.
The shenanigans began the minute Lavender was put in jail. He spent six full minutes in a cell before a local judge had him out without even having to put up a single penny in bond money. We should all be so lucky!
Anyway, the evidence in this case was compelling.
Whitley County District 3 Constable Jim Thornton, who arrested Lavender, reported finding five fifths of liquor in Lavender’s car at the scene of the accident, including an open container between the seat and the center console. Lavender refused to take any breath, blood or urine tests to determine his blood alcohol content.
Yet last week, after FOUR YEARS of legal buffoonery and incompetence on the part of prosecutors and judges, the charges were dismissed. This ridiculous stretch of time included two and a half years where the case was literally forgotten by our courts – at least until the News Journal exposed it and essentially forced some kind of action.
In hindsight, I really don’t know why we bothered.
The “special” prosecutor in the case couldn’t summon enough energy to do any actual prosecuting. Most of his effort was spent on lame excuses and conflict avoidance. Traditionally, backpeddling and running up the flag of surrender seem to be a art form among special prosecutors, so you can never expect much. He claimed he was bound by the terms of some prior agreement, never approved by a judge, dropping the case for LACK OF EVIDENCE. He even said it with a straight face.
I think Thornton summed it up best when he eloquently referred to the outcome of this case as “bull.”
Right here is the paragraph where I usually launch a broadside against our judges and prosecutors (I don’t include defense attorneys because they are the only ones apparently doing their jobs) blistering them for playing favorites and continually fertilizing a perverted legal arrangement that doles out justice differently for the haves and the have nots … the somebody’s and the nobody’s.
I’ve written columns like this dozens of times and it only gets worse. You can’t change a system that literally rubs your face in its ineptitude and corruption. You can’t shame people who have none. The people who could do something to correct the problem won’t.
The sad result of all this is that, at least in theory, it should be nearly impossible now for anyone to be prosecuted for DUI in Whitley County. If the police pull you over, the smart thing to do is refuse any tests to prove your blood-alcohol level. Simply go to court and ask for “The Lavender Deal.” The prosecutor should literally fall down to his knees and beg your forgiveness for putting you through the trouble of a messy arrest and short incarceration. Our courts work on precedence after all. This case sets a precedent, doesn’t it? Not enough evidence. Sorry we wasted your time. Decisions and punishment need to be consistent, right? Our courts can’t be arbitrary.
Is there anyone out there willing to defend this ridiculous farce? I’d love to hear from them. What am I missing here?
I write columns like this over and over, and not a single person EVER steps up to the plate to dispute what I’m saying about our court system. Never! I can only take that to mean that even the ones directly involved with it are so ashamed of what is going on they don’t even want to talk about it. Are their no noble defenders of the status quo out there? Is there not a single knight in shining armor to carry the banner for the way things are? I want to hear from you. Take some space on this editorial page and explain why what happened in this case was right. Matter of fact, take my space. I won’t burden our readers with my opinions next week if someone wants to write me a spirited defense of the handling of this case. I’m dying for someone to disagree with me here!
Constable Thornton knows what he thinks of it.
“Bull,” he says.
I know what I think, too.
A whole stinking heap of it.