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February 21, 2006

They Call Him Tater Salad

Georgia offensive lineman Ian "Tater Salad" Smith was arrested recently for public drunkenness. According to the Red & Black, police had to hammer through a wooden door at Amici's restaurant in downtown Athens to get to Ian, who had passed out on the shitter with his trousers and drawers around his ankles. Perhaps--just perhaps--ACCPD overreacted.

[I don't want to be drunk in public. I want to be drunk in a bar. You threw me into public.]

At first blush, you might think 'PUBLIC drunkenness?'-- Could there be anything less public than locking yourself in the john to pinch a loaf? According to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) section 16-41-11, public drunkenness is defined as

"a person who shall be and appear in an intoxicated condition in any public place or within the curtilage of any private residence not his own other than by invitation of the owner or lawful occupant, which condition is made manifest by boisterousness, by indecent condition or act, or by vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language. [emphasis added]"
The Georgia Sports Blog will now hear the case of People vs. Ian Smith.

[Free Legal Advice Disclaimer: you get what you pay for.] May it please the court: There are two elements of this offense, both of which must be satisfied. There is the "public place" element, and the "made manifest" element.

The "public place" element of the statute is defined in case law to be broadly interpreted as "any place where the defendant's conduct may reasonably be viewed by people other than members of the defendant's family or household." (281 F3d 1346). Though it pushes the limits of the definition of "public", for the sake or argument, I'll spot you a the public place element. However...

[If he gave no lip, you must acquit.]

Merely being drunk in a public place does not constitute a violation of the statute because an "outward manifestation" must be shown. To convict, not only shall the defendant appear intoxicated in a public place, but the defendant shall also have also committed one of the "bad acts" enumerated in the statute. Being locked in and passed out on the shitter (even in a restaurant) does not constitute boisterousness, vulgarity, profanity, or unbecoming language within the meaning of the statute. (134 Ga. App. 820).

In fact, mere drunkenness manifested by extreme stupor or deep sleep is not a violation of state law. Id. A particularly ingredious dump may indeed be vulgar and offensive, but it was not the legislative intent of the General Assembly to include taking the browns to the super bowl within the enumerated manifestations or drunken conduct.

Pity the Fourth Amendment and the various contortions to which the noble amendment has been subjected. From said noble amendment's penumbras and emanations a so-called 'right to privacy' has been extracted. Assuming the right to privacy exists, if the right to privacy means anything it certainly means the right to be free from having ACCPD bash the door in with a hammer while you drop the kids off at the pool, no? So, not only has the state failed to prove both elements of the offense, the application of the statute to this particular set of facts is arguably unconstitutional.

What Athens-Clarke County needs is a level-headed law enforcement official to temper the giddiness of all the Deputy Fifes running around town. God bless Sheriff Andy Taylor for knowing how to handle imbibers. Would it kill the Athens police to give Ian a key to a cell and allow him to check himself out in the morning with his dignity and a headache?

[Ian, would it have killed you to light a match?]

Georgia Sports Blog finds Ian "Tater Salad" Smith not guilty. We are adjourned.

Dawgnoxious, Esq.
General Counsel
Georgia Sports Blog Legal Department

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Motion to include Athens-Clarke County Police Department along with University Police as jack-booted thugs. Hence forth, moniker to be expanded to "hammer tottin' jack-booted thugs". To wit, ACCPD = HTJBT.

Dawgnoxious said...

Motion seconded. All in favor say aye. Opposed?

Motion carries.

Anonymous said...

Not defending the ACCPD at all, but you do know that they HAD to charge him with something or they would have had to pay for the busted door ;-). That said, and the General Assembly having failed to include "Falling Asleep on a Public Toilet" in Title 16 of the OCGA, public drunk is the best they could come up with. Or maybe the failure to light a match is a Simple
Assault?

AV8RDawg said...

You are too funny, man...

Kyle King said...

7:20 p.m. Anonymous, your "simple assault" joke reminds me of a lawyer I know who was working as a criminal defense attorney during the days when the Georgia sodomy law was still in effect.

A case arising under said statute came before a particular court and the lawyer of my acquaintance was defending the accused. The judge called the attorneys to the bench and strongly suggested a plea bargain to avoid the embarrassment and awkwardness of a trial.

The defense attorney replied, "Your honor, my client would be willing to plead guilty to a charge of following too closely."

Dawgnoxious, as nutty as this kind of student-athlete stupidity makes me, I agree with your legal analysis.

In fact, I took the time to look at the law after reading your posting and, within the next couple or three days, I probably will be posting a reply of my own addressing the very valid points you raise.

Finally, if Paul will pardon me for using the comments section of his weblog for my own aggrandizement, I am pleased to announce that Kyle on Football has moved.

My new internet home may be found at Dawg Sports.

Anonymous said...

If you stay around Athens long enough, you will see enough over the top stuff like this from the ACC-PD to make you sick. When I was in town for the G-Day game, I saw a cop totally cuss out a drunk guy just for being helped down the sidewalk by his friends. Neither the guy or his friends had said a word to the cop. Why did he do this? Because Officer Ponch knew he could do this and feel like a big man, because the guys realized they could not say one word back, or they would then be charged with public drunkenness. I am going to Athens this weekend and am planning on not drinking Friday night so I can tell that cop what a piece of crap he is. Saturday night though, Im getting drunk.:)

 
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