Well, Congress has already gutted the fourth amendment against illegal search and seizure to beyond a laughable point. If you’re convicted of drug charges you can have your property taken from you – cars, houses, etc. That property will be sold at auction and the money put back into the system to “get more drugs off the streets” and put more people in prison. In turn, more property will be taken which will be sold to the public and the cycle continues.
Now, this all may sound all well and good, but what the authorities don’t tell you is that they don’t have to serve warrants on the correct person. They don’t have fail safes like social security numbers on warrants. Hell, they don’t even need a middle name!
An excerpt from my memoir I’ve been writing tells how the Blount County and Maryville Police, on my first and last names alone, put me in jail. A case of mistaken identity. Here goes:
One night, my brother was driving my car and we’d been drinking heavily. A cop pulled us over for a blown headlight. This was the first time I’d ever seen the inside of the drunk tank. Jail didn’t look good on me at all. I was pissed and belligerent. They let me out four hours later after I’d sobered.The next day, I went to get my car from the impound where they’d taken such good care of it. The guard told me I needed to get a paper signed at Maryville City Police Department before I could get my car back.
So, at the police department office, I iterated to the officer what the guard had told me. About this time, an officer came out of an office and had me to sign a paper. This unknowingly was a warrant for my arrest for possession, sale, and delivery of marijuana. They had a warrant for little ole me? Yes. And apparently, an entire investigation case against Robert S. Gregory of Maryville as a pot dealer.
My mom always told me if I got locked up for drugs, don’t call her. I took this to heart the day I was taken to jail. They didn’t tell me at first what I was being arrested for. My ex-step-mother Sue, my younger brother Keith’s mom, worked there at the jail. She came to my cell and told me that I’d sold weed to an undercover cop. I told her that wasn’t possible. I didn’t sell weed that I bought because I was too busy smoking it.
I was bailed out by my friends – Jamie, his girlfriend Deanna, and my friend Sam. I couldn’t thank them enough for the two-hundred fifty dollars they raised between them to get me out of jail. The next morning Sue called. She told my mom something about their charges and the whole thing was wrong and that I needed a lawyer.
A lawyer used by my brother Clutch before was who I retained. Well, weeks expired, and, with one motion of discovery, their evidence was somewhat clear. They gave me an audio tape of their meeting with someone who was supposedly me. The guy on the tape sounded nothing like me. The informant who bought the weed from the dealer on the tape read the dealer’s tag number off. My mom, who should’ve been an investigator and probably was in another life, went to the registration office and obtained a copy of the dealer’s tag registration. The guy’s name, ironically – Robert Steven Gregory of Little Dug Gap Road. My middle name is Shannon. And with this little piece of exonerating evidence, we didn’t understand how the cops couldn’t have put the pieces together themselves.
Before the discovery of the audio tape, my hapless lawyer questioned me and my answer about whether I’d ever been to the Shamrock motel – where the buying and selling of the drugs went down. I assured him I never had. Ten times or so I assured him I never had.
When my mother, the investigator, found the evidence that blew the case wide open, the district attorney agreed to dismiss the charges without prejudice and my hapless lawyer advised me to get a Knoxville attorney for a possible lawsuit. He recommended a certain lawyer. Yes, I still remember that shyster’s name but for reasons of forgiveness I will not name her. Keep in mind I was twenty-four years old at the time and a naïve, scatterbrained, extremely gullible pothead who was not only stoned all the time, but also assumed this lawyer would have my best interests at heart. And she might have if she’d had a heart. Also keep in mind that every time I visited this shyster, I was stoned. The best advice I can give anyone from the lesson that came from this is never trust a shyster, especially when money’s involved.
Now, the deal with this lawyer was that she would get thirty percent of the damages – none up front. After a few meetings, she came back with an offer from the City of Maryville. She told me that they didn’t believe I was innocent. That, in fact, if their informant – a guy nicknamed Possum, at least I hope it was a nickname – was currently missing. If Possum wound up dead, they would charge me with murder. This made to me absolutely no sense, but I was stoned most of the time, so I didn’t connect the dots. Or even try to. They offered me five thousand dollars, of which Ms. Shyster would get thirty percent, but she said since she’d done most of the work for my case, she deserved three thousand, if I could take two. Well, of course she did the work! That’s what I was paying her thirty percent for. So, if I was guilty and they didn’t believe my innocence, why were they even offering anything? Basically, I realized after I took the deal that this lawyer must have been lying to me about a missing Possum.
The moral of that little story – when someone’s playing possum, get a better lawyer. Or at least one that’s honest.