Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Grand Jury

Once again, all names have been changed to protect the ignorant.

Stoob Manny was a bad man. A very bad man. Mid 30's, redneck, he lived along the Texas/Louisiana border and crossed from state to state regularly in his business that ran afoul of the law. He was suspected of being implicated in the murder or disappearance of a couple of people, and was generally considered to be engaged in felonious activity on a daily basis. He had served prison time in both the Louisiana system and the Texas system. Drugs, livestock theft, intimidation, it didn't matter to him as long as he could make a dollar. Stoob had a personality to match his record. He was generally unsocial, prone to fight and carried both a knife and a gun in his tall cowboy boots. Police officers knew that arresting Stoob was dangerous. A fight was a certainty and if you let him get his hands to the tops of his boots, it might become lethal.

Danny White was a felon of a different sort. Also a redneck, Danny was a logger in the pulpwoods of northwest Louisiana. Generally soft-spoken, Danny liked his marijuana. He tried to supplement his income by selling the weed, and got caught. He wound up doing a short stint in the joint, then came out on parole. I was Danny's parole officer.

A parole officer in Louisiana is considered a peace officer, with the same training and certifications as any other cop. We are armed and make arrests. The one huge difference between us and normal cops is that we have the power of the detainer. The detainer is huge. A parole officer can put a detainer on an individual any time we "suspect that he has violated, or is about to violate, the conditions of parole." The detainer carries the weight of law and there is no bond. A parole officer places a detainer to start the violation process which can take months. The detainer is a powerful tool and we weild it with impunity. District judges don't screw with us about it because it helps them incarcerate the worst violators in the system.

The one drawback is that we cannot lift the detainer. The Parole Board reserves that privelige to themselves. Any Parole officer who lifts a detainer is liable to be reprimanded, fired, or both.

Back to Stoob Manny. Stoob came across the state line one morning and announced to everyone in particular that he had been locked up in Texas but had served his time. He was back. Law enforcement officers all across the region groaned in collective disgust.

One Sunday morning about 3:00 a.m., I got a phone call at home. It was the jailer, who informed me that Danny White had been arrested. He had shot someone in a bar outside of town. I had three unassialable facts. 1. Danny was on parole. 2. He was in a bar, in violation of his parole. 3. Danny had shot someone. I told the jailer I was placing a detainer, and would do the paperwork Monday. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Monday morning, when I got to the Courthouse, there were two messages waiting for me at the dispatchers desk. Go see the District Attorney. Go see the Judge.

I saw the D.A. first. The facts fell like this: Danny White had gone to the Coon Ridge Lounge to get his sister out of there. Sister was being bothered by Stoob Manny. When Danny showed up, Stoob threatened Danny. Danny grabbed his sister and exited, into the parking lot. Stoob followed, firing a .38 pistol. Danny got between a couple of vehicles, waiting for Stoob to run out of ammo. Stoob reloaded and advanced on Danny, who realized he was near an open pickup truck with a shotgun in the front seat. Danny grabbed the shotgun and checked the chamber. It was loaded. Danny fired one shot at Stoob, catching him between the sternum and the neck with a load of buckshot. It was immediately effective. Danny unloaded the gun and waited calmly in the parking lot for the police. He did not resist arrest.

The D.A. had convened the Grand Jury and wanted me there when they reported. I told him I would hang around, and went to see the Judge.

The Judge waved me into his office and I stood silently while he finished a phone call. Then he looked at me. "Danny White killed Stoob Manny in what looks like a clear case of self-defense. I've gotten a dozen calls this morning. They want to give Danny a medal for ridding this area of a scourge."

"Yessir"

The Judge looked at me over the bridge of his glasses. "You placed a detainer against Danny White."

"Yessir"

"Neither you nor I have the authority to release that detainer, do we?"

"No, sir."

"Well," the judge snorted, "hang around until the Grand Jury reports and we'll decide what we need to do next."

I hung around. I wasn't going to miss this show for the world.

Shortly after lunch, we got word that the Graind Jury would issue their report. I went into the court room and took a front row seat in the gallery. The Judge filed in, then the Grand Jury. The Judge read the report and addressed the Jury Foreman. "Have you completed your report?"

"Yes, Your Honor. We are returning a No True Bill in State vs. Danny White."

The gallery applauded. I had never heard applause in a court room before. The Judge pounded the gavel for silence. Defense counsel stood. "Your Honor, I would like to ask that Mr. White be immediately released."

The Judge considered his notes. "We could do that, counselor, except for the little matter of a detainer filed by the Department of Corrections." The Judge fixed me with a penetrating glare. "Sir?"

I rose. "If it please the Court, the Board of Parole will release the detainer on Mr. White." Applause again.

I had a lot of paperwork to do explaining my actions that afternoon. Common sense prevailed. Danny White was released from jail. As far as I know, he never again violated the conditions of parole and was successfully released from supervision two years later.

2 comments:

Fugger Nutter said...

That was a great read, I will have to stop by here again, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

A magnificent tale PawPaw. Somehow my stories of computer stuff just don't cut it after I read yours.