Planning for a weekend in the woods last Thursday, I set my tv-gadget to record channel 12's replay of last Tuesday's League of Women Voters' Forum between the candidates for DA, Chancellor, Judge, and Sheriff. However, in a monumental technological error, I set it to record on the wrong day (it should have been Friday), which yielded instead an hour of Chad McNabb on Inside Anderson County (the program, not the e-zine of the same name).
Thursday's guest on the show was independent DA candidate Ann Coria, one of those whom Beauchamp is said to be advising. A few clips were played from the forum, and there seemed to be a little piling on of Coria and Hunt supporters against Dave Clark, the clear frontrunner in the race by most observers.
It was a weak piling on, in my opinion, but a three-way race can yield close margins: it's the only way that Ramsey stayed in office 16 years ago, when just a sprinkling of votes separated the republican, the independent, and the then-democrat Ramsey. Without a third candidate, he would have been defeated by a two-to-one margin.
Coria is bright, experienced, and a solid citizen. Watching her respond on the program, however, yielded a couple of concerns: she does not seem to share the other candidates' commitment to reducing the number of plea bargains (an issue due to Ramsey's long-standing practice of plea-bargaining everything), and she seemed to give a couple of different answers to gun-control questions. Most disturbing to me was her statement that she did not plan staff changes in the DA's office.
Since Ramsey hasn't tried a single case in this county in decades, the assistant DA's are an issue. I've experienced firsthand the frustration of plea-bargaining when ADA Sam Lee wanted to edit the theft of my vehicle down to "joyriding."
Joyriding would have been appropriate had my prized mustang convertible, a Mother's Day gift from a few months before, been returned to my driveway. When I had to go out and hunt it down -- which I did -- it's THEFT.
In another case where a friend of mine was the victim of a notorious scam artist, Lee wanted to dismiss the case altogether, even though there was sufficient evidence to put the guy away. Fortunately, Judge McNees recognized the con man from his previous infractions, and declined to go along. Con man did time.
Thank God for good judges! Which is why, for those who don't quite make the connection between why a bad DA would make for a worse judge, Jim Ramsey should not be elevated to the bench where he can dismiss cases at will, or impose his own strange brand of justice not only in criminal trials, but also in the sensitive family law and civil matters handled by the Chancery Court.
A few years ago, hubby served as a jury foreman in a case where the accused's real crime was that he hosted a website that was critical of Jim Ramsey. He was
guilty of the minor offense with which he was charged, but the real villains in the incident were never brought before the court at all.
Neutral, objective, and independent? That's not what the record shows for Jim Ramsey. We need a competent and assertive District Attorney, along with a neutral, objective, and competent chancellor.
This August 3 election can bring real change to Anderson County. Think hard, and do your homework before voting.