Con­vic­tion void

Oh, those tick­ets

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - Mike Master­son Mike Master­son is a long­time Arkansas jour­nal­ist. Email him at mmas­ter­son@arkansason­line.com.

Gov. Asa Hutchin­son wisely avoided com­ment on the DWI con­vic­tion dis­missed against his 41-year-old son the other day as much of the state was chat­ter­ing like a house of feath­ery martins about the weird­ness sur­round­ing that case.

Cir­cuit Judge Mark Lind­say de­cided to over­turn the Novem­ber con­vic­tion of at­tor­ney Wil­liam Asa Hutchin­son III on charges of DWI, care­less and pro­hib­ited driv­ing and re­fusal to sub­mit to chem­i­cal test­ing, stem­ming from a sin­gle-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent on In­ter­state 49 in Fayet­teville.

Ace re­porter Bill Bow­den’s de­tailed ac­count helped clear the con­fu­sion; well, some of it any­way.

It seems state trooper Joshua Arnold in­ex­pli­ca­bly com­pleted four ci­ta­tions, only two num­bered, and erred from the be­gin­ning when he mis­tak­enly noted on his ini­tial ci­ta­tion that Hutchin­son’s Jan. 24, 2016, ac­ci­dent at 2:55 a.m. oc­curred in “day­light.”

The orig­i­nal ticket said the ac­ci­dent hap­pened at mile marker 67 south­bound. The trooper’s re­port noted six clues of in­tox­i­ca­tion and that Hutchin­son re­fused to com­plete the field so­bri­ety test. He also said Hutchin­son told him he was headed home to Rogers in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

Arnold at­tempted to void his orig­i­nal ci­ta­tion and cor­rect his er­ror on the re­place­ment to read “dark” and “Exit 67.” He filed its re­place­ment (which Hutchin­son never re­ceived) with Fayet­teville’s dis­trict court where Hutchin­son was tried and con­victed.

Done deal? Oh, no. In a Through-The-Look­ing-Glass re­al­ity, the seem­ing con­clu­sion of this case was but its be­gin­ning.

Hutchin­son’s at­tor­ney, Chad Atwell, filed to have the case dis­missed be­cause his client never re­ceived the re­vised ci­ta­tion, and the statute of lim­i­ta­tions on the mat­ter had passed.

And in his re­search, Atwell said he also dis­cov­ered two other un­num­bered ci­ta­tions in Hutchin­son’s case. That made four in­volv­ing the same charges. One re­vised ticket read, “no sig­na­ture re­quired.”

“None of the four ci­ta­tions, or two num­bered ci­ta­tions, are valid any longer,” Atwell wrote to the court. “The lack of a valid charg­ing in­stru­ment vi­o­lates de­fen­dant’s right to due process and his right to a speedy trial, and places Mr. Hutchin­son in dou­ble jeop­ardy.” The judge agreed, say­ing the prob­lem was of­fi­cer er­ror. When I’ve got­ten a ticket, there’s al­ways been just one copy in­volved. How about you?

Dis­tressed Arkansans

More than 12 per­cent of Arkansas’ pop­u­la­tion re­ported hav­ing fre­quent men­tal dis­tress sev­eral years back, com­pared to 10.7 per­cent na­tion­ally, says the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

Arkansas women had a higher rate, with 14 per­cent, com­pared with men at 11 per­cent. More­over, those be­tween 25 and 34 re­ported the high­est rate at 14.7 per­cent. Those 75 and above rep­re­sented 6.2 per­cent.

A 2014 ar­ti­cle, “Men­tal Health in Arkansas,” also said pro­fes­sion­als re­al­ize men­tal dis­or­ders are not caused by poor up­bring­ing, per­sonal weak­ness, or lack of char­ac­ter. In­stead, they are “bi­o­log­i­cal med­i­cal con­di­tions that dis­rupt a per­son’s think­ing, feel­ing, mood, abil­ity to re­late to oth­ers and abil­ity to func­tion.”

Just over 26.2 per­cent of those 18 and older have a di­ag­nos­able men­tal dis­or­der. How­ever, only about 6 per­cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion “has a se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness,” ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tute on Men­tal Health. And de­pres­sion is the lead­ing cause of adult dis­abil­ity.

Fall­out from CTE

I was drawn to a story the other day be­cause of po­ten­tial se­ri­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions to the fu­ture of foot­ball.

A re­port pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion re­viewed post­mortem re­search on the brains of 202 for­mer foot­ball play­ers, which found ev­i­dence of the brain dis­ease chronic trau­matic enchep­halopa­thy (CTE). It is as­so­ci­ated with the ef­fects of re­peated head blows and con­cus­sions in prac­ti­cally all of them.

The de­bil­i­tat­ing brain dis­ease can cause a range of symp­toms in­clud­ing mem­ory loss, rad­i­cal per­son­al­ity changes and has even linked with sui­cide by for­mer play­ers.

The study di­ag­nosed CTE in 177 for­mer play­ers—90 per­cent of the brains ex­am­ined, in­clud­ing 110 of 111 from for­mer NFL play­ers, 48 of 53 col­lege play­ers, nine of 14 semi-pro­fes­sional play­ers, seven of eight Cana­dian Foot­ball league play­ers and three of 14 high school play­ers.

A story also said a panel of neu­ropathol­o­gists used spe­cific cri­te­ria in mak­ing their di­ag­no­sis by ex­am­in­ing brain tis­sue. The NFL is­sued a state­ment say­ing th­ese re­ports are im­por­tant for ad­vanc­ing science re­lated to head trauma, and that the league “will con­tinue to work with a wide range of ex­perts to im­prove the health of cur­rent and for­mer NFL ath­letes.’”

The NFL ear­lier ac­knowl­edged a link be­tween head blows and brain dis­ease and agreed in a $1 bil­lion set­tle­ment to com­pen­sate for­mer play­ers who’d ac­cused the league of hid­ing th­ese risks.

The AMA jour­nal up­date also in­cludes Arkansas’ All-Amer­i­can Ron­nie Cave­ness, who went on to play in the Amer­i­can Foot­ball League.

This mat­ter al­ready is send­ing rip­ple ef­fects through­out foot­ball and other or­ga­nized sports. There’s no way re­spon­si­ble par­ents aren’t go­ing to take such sig­nif­i­cant find­ings to heart in de­cid­ing whether their chil­dren will be join­ing the risk pool.

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