There is only one thing worse than a judge cracking jokes, and that’s a southern judge cracking jokes in a Georgia courtroom. Unless, of course, he is busting the balls of some crooked local cops.
That was the case in Athens, Georgia last week when U.S. District Judge Clay Land ruled that sheriff’s deputies might’ve violated the civil rights of two young suspects during a warrantless witch hunt for weed.
Back on October 14th, 2010, a 16-year old girl named Nikki Beasley was rushed to the emergency room after allegedly consuming booze, some weed, and an unknown pill. It was determined that she had last been seen with two older friends, Clifton Jackson and Megan Mitchell.
Jackson and Mitchell shared a home together, and supposedly Beasley had a few drinks and a few puffs, and without the other two knowing, apparently popped a mystery pill of some sort. Beasley left the couples’ house under her own power, only to end up in the hospital later that night.
Unaware that their young friend was likely getting her stomach pumped, Jackson and Mitchell were butt naked, doing what couples do, when they were rudely interrupted by a demand to enter from Greene County sheriff’s deputies.
Due to a prior set of criminal charges, Jackson’s probation included a “consent to search” clause, which the deputies invoked as they bullied their way into the home. Still totally naked, both Jackson and Mitchell asked if they could at least get dressed, but they claim that the officers said, “We’ll worry about clothes in a minute.”
Mitchell says she grabbed a sweater and put it on, but was not allowed to button it before she and Jackson were instructed to sit on a couch, whereby Mitchell alleges that deputies took turns shining their flashlights on her still-exposed breasts and genitals.
The cops mentioned Beasley, and moved their search to Jackson and Mitchell’s bedroom, where they turned up zero pot, but a pile of ashes that they suspected of being pot.
In the ass-backwards laws of the state of Georgia, marijuana smoking is akin to flag-burning, so undoubtedly feeling the pressure of the situation, Jackson attempted to take all the blame for the evening’s events, admitting that he gave the underage Beasley some booze and a few tokes, and nothing more.
In fairness, the dude probably just wanted some damn pants at that point.
Even with Jackson taking the blame, the officers arrested both he and Megan Mitchell, and led them out of the house, for the entire neighborhood to see.
Oh, and they saw.
Jackson was given a short jacket, and Mitchel was still in her flowing sweater, and neighbors reported seeing all sorts of XXX-rated anatomy on both suspects between the front door of their home and the squad car on the curb.
Still sans pants, they arrived at the local jail to be held for booking. Every person they passed by, including their fellow inmates, were given an up close and personal look at their baby-makers. Appalled, the deputies’ supervisor asked why the couple was brought in in their birthday suits, to which the redneck pigs replied “yer ridin like yer hidin”.
The couple sought to have the court toss the entire case based on the warrantless search, but Judge Land upheld that part of the case, saying the “consent to search” gave the officers the right to enter the premises that October night, three and a half years ago.
The couple says that the officers still violated their 4th Amendment rights, and they are seeking justice. For their role, the officers are seeking immunity, literally saying they see nothing wrong with how they treated the suspects that night.
So that’s when the judge broke into what could have been a scene straight out of the movie My Cousin Vinnie.
Judge Land’s 28-page opinion begins by stating: “Lewis Grizzard, a Southern humorist and legendary columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, observed that there’s a big difference between the words ‘naked’ and ‘nekkid.’
‘Naked’ means you don’t have your clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you don’t have your clothes on and you’re up to something.”
He went on to say that whether Jackson and Mitchell were ‘up to something’ before officers arrived that their door is irrelevant when it comes to protecting their constitutional rights, which the judge agrees were pretty clearly violated when the two were paraded around nude all night.
Judge Land declared that he found plenty of evidence of unreasonable behavior during, and after the arrest of Clifton Jackson and Megan Mitchell, and ruled to allow the case to proceed to trial with the three Greene County Sheriffs Deputies involved in the case named as the defendants. Additionally, he ruled that Jackson and Mitchell may move to seek punitive damages.
It’s hard to say exactly what result the local law enforcement expects in a situation like this, when they literally try to build their entire case on a drunken southern teen, a pile of ashes, and a naked confession.