Speedy senator hits fast lane for appeal
As the story goes, Arkansas State Sen. Bruce Holland (R-Greenwood) was allegedly speeding in excess of 100 mph and was chased by Ray Byrd, a Perry County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigator, for 20 miles before he was finally able to stop Holland with the assistance of Ola Police Department personnel. I use the word “allegedly” because, according to the public statements of both Holland and Investigator Byrd, this incident ended as what is known in the judiciary as a “no harm, no foul” with no citation issued, no arrest made and no official documentation made on the day of the incident. So, from a strictly legal perspective, this never even happened.
The next day, Holland, who is facing re-election, goes on the floor of the Arkansas legislature and issues a formal verbal and written public confession and apology for speeding, which was dumb and annoying. Our society is now overburdened with these fake public apologies, by public figures, solely calculated to protect their own financial and/or political interests and have nothing to do with true repentance. So, three days after the fact, as a result of this statement, Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley filed a criminal charge against Holland for fleeing a police officer. He also added the non-criminal traffic infractions of improper passing and careless driving to the same criminal information sheet.
When Investigator Byrd, who is not even a patrol deputy, was asked why he did not cite or arrest Holland for the alleged offenses that happened in his presence, he stated that at the time of the incident he was under the impression that state legislators had immunity from citations and arrests while the state legislature was in session. Then, three days later, he had in his possession Attorney General Opinion No. 2003-106 (May 2, 2003), signed by then Attorney General Mike Beebe, which seemingly opines that this immunity is qualified, and thus only covers civil actions. However, a thorough reading of the opinion letter relies solely on federal and other state laws, while actually leaving the matter under Arkansas law undecided.
This opinion was used to establish the charges against Holland, of which he was eventually convicted by District Judge Elizabeth Wise. The funny thing is that he was not charged with the traffic infraction that he admitted to: speeding. I believe the reason is that the investigator cannot prove that Holland was speeding. It was the investigator, driving a truck, who had to go excessive speeds just to catch up with the senator, who was driving a sports car. The investigator admitted to driving over 95 mph in pursuit of the senator. The senator admitted to neither knowing how fast he was driving nor being aware that the investigator was in pursuit. The investigator started out at much slower speed when the senator evidently passed him. It makes mathematical sense to conclude that the investigator had to have traveled at a much greater speed merely to catch up with the senator and, he cannot logically use his own speed to estimate the senator’s speed.
Since the obvious and mutually agreed upon offense of speeding can not really be proven, it appears that the prosecuting attorney and the investigator did, instead, what is known as charge-stacking, which is when a prosecutor throws several charges at a defendant hoping that at least one of them will stick. In this particular instance, charges have been stacked with no reported evidence that they were actually committed in the investigators presence, as is required by law.
As far as the criminal fleeing charge is concerned, it has to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the senator actually knew that his “immediate arrest or detention is being attempted by a duly authorized law enforcement officer,” according to the law. And, this is the conviction with which he is most concerned, as stated in the appeal which he filed on Oct. 4.
I am neither a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. I personally believe that both parties are parasites on the American people. I am an independent thinker who is not easily led by the surface details. Something is going on with this case that is being orchestrated behind the scenes. Arkansans should not allow themselves to be led into a rush to judgment by the Democratic machine that has continuously vilified Holland since he issued his stupid apology. The call for the senator to quietly accept the punishment given to him by the district judge is asinine, especially when he is simply exercising his right as a citizen to seek review of her decision on appeal. And, if justice truly exists, I believe that the senator’s conviction will eventually be overturned.