Thank goodness for the letter of the law. Thank goodness for an off-duty Raleigh police officer who didn’t follow proper procedure in searching a residence of football players—NC State football players at that—and discovering marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Thank goodness for defense lawyers who asked a judge to toss out—or suppress—the evidence in the case against three of four football players with charges related to the find because proper legal procedures were not followed in the “bust,” which was by accident anyway. And, thank goodness for the judge, Keith Gregory, a graduate of the North Carolina Central University law school, who had the insight and courage to grant the motion to suppress to the defense lawyers.
Speaking about Judge Gregory, James Jackson, the lawyer representing Wolfpack defensive player J.R. Sweezy, is quoted in today’s The News & Observer: “Fortunately for us, we are a nation of laws, and it takes a highly courageous judge to follow those laws, especially when there's a case that has such high-profile status.” Once the evidence was hidden by the court, the charges were dropped. Justice speaks! My boys are free!
Now, thank goodness even more, that three of the marijuana four—Sweezy, Jake Vermiglio and Markus Kuhn—are liberated, that the charges are dropped, and the players return to fulltime status with Tom O’Brien’s—and my for goodness sake—NC State football team. The charges in total for the three were, but now gone, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and maintaining a dwelling for the use of a controlled substance. Another player, George Bryan, an all-Atlantic Coast Conference tight end, continues to face the charge about maintaining a dwelling and has a scheduled court date of Sept 3, the day before the Wolfpack opens the 2010 campaign against Western Carolina, Saturday, September 4. Kickoff set for 6 pm; tickets available, for sure, so call 919-865-1510; can be seen on ESPN3 unless you’re internet access is with Time Warner Cable.
The details of the incident have been much publicized so there is no need to rehash the particulars. I wrote about this situation April 27 (look it up and read it again if you wish) and at the time called for strong and swift action against the four by O’Brien. I even said the four could be found not-guilty, though it never crossed my mind that the charges could be dropped, but that the reputation of NC State and of O’Brien’s program had been tarnished because of the charges and arrests. I feel the same now and that public flogging would be a better solution than to say it was handled internally, if indeed it has been.
Just because the charges were dropped doesn’t mean those three didn’t have possession of marijuana or the paraphernalia, etc. It means the letter of the law wasn’t followed in conducting the search. Because O’Brien has not publically revealed what measures of punishment have been taken, we can only trust that some meaningful action has been transacted. Maybe there’s some Public Records Request that covers that. But, this is another chapter in college athletics that slaps black eye on the NC State program despite the growing idea that legalizing marijuana is the way to go. Even if it was, would O’Brien and other coaches allow their players to partake?
For the most part, it seems it is O’Brien’s method to keep disciplinary actions private, but such a method always makes one wonder. With the exception of Sweezy who was suspended from some of spring practice (wow!) because of a legal situation in Mooresville, O’Brien’s disciplinary actions have been private. Personally, I think it is best to be public with the actions even if legal action is pending. I trust that just because the charges were dropped, O’Brien hasn’t dropped disciplinary action. I trust that if he confronted the four and held a truth section, each would admit to him their obvious guilt.
That aside, thank goodness again for the legal system which has now done justice thus far, at least for three, and has kept O’Brien from suspending the players from actual playing time, we think but we do not know because O’Brien isn’t talking except to tell the media Monday that all the players will be with the team when it starts pre-season practice. Now, with much of the legal stuff out of the way and with the players, all who could have a positive impact on the team and its results this season, there are fewer places to lay blame if the Wolfpack has another losing season.
And, that’s good because I want O’Brien and the Wolfpack to have all available personnel. I want the team to succeed come hell or high water. That’s because I am a Wolfpack fan first, and always want the legal system to get our boys and girls out of the legal system as quickly and as quietly as possible. Thank goodness to all those involved in this case. Or should I be reminded of that famous John Selden quote about ignorance of the law excuses no man? Not the football players, not the coaches, not the off-duty police officer, not the judge. Oh well, life moves on.