Photo via The Smoking Gun
Last November, in one of the lamest events of 2010, Willie Nelson was detained in Sierra Blanca, Texas (population 533, home of America’s Largest Sewage Dump) for having a stinky tour bus. He was subsequently arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor offense that carries no jail time.
This June, it seemed as though Nelson struck a pretty good plea deal: if he coughed up a $500 fine and court expenses, he could go on his merry way, the prosecutor decided. Because what kind of sicko would toss a frail, 78-year-old stoner in the clink?
Why, Hudspeth County Judge Becky Dean-Walker sure would! The plea deal sounded like “special treatment” to her, and she’d rather make an example out of the legendary singer-songwriter.
As Judge Dean-Walker explained to the New York Times, “If Willie Nelson gets off with nothing, I’m not going to be part of it.” She also told Reuters, “I’m not going to be guilty of signing something because someone is a celebrity… Everybody should be treated the same in my court.” She told the local West Texas ABC affiliate, “To me, [the plea deal was] wrong. I think that he should be charged with something that shows drugs were involved.”
That’s why Judge Dean-Walker rejected the plea deal, demanding instead that the prosecutor, County Attorney C.R. Bramblett, seek a harsher punishment—that is, the judge is trying to get Willie Nelson nailed with misdemeanor drug possession, which is punishable with jail time.
Last week Judge Dean-Walker told press she initially signed the plea deal by accident, then scratched her name off the document again. She kind of reminds me of my hometown Angel of Vengeance (I’m secretly from Texas).
If the case goes to trial, Willie Nelson faces up to a year of jail time. The very idea horrifies me. He’s so old! As I see it, Judge Dean-Walker is trying to kill Willie Nelson. That was almost my headline, actually, but I reconsidered.
And now for my favorite hobby, Armchair Lawyering: If I were Prosecutor Bramblett, I’d just trump up a baseless felony charge. That plan probably couldn’t backfire, and at least they’d get a different judge.
I also just discovered that Willie’s Place—the Willie Nelson -themed truck stop, easily the most heavenly place in Texas—shuttered earlier this year. Oh, Willie! Just get out of Texas once and for all; she’s no good to you.