Reckless driving and speeding charges against L.A. Dodgers star and former Chattanooga Lookouts player Yasiel Puig were dropped Wednesday morning in Hamilton County General Sessions Court. He had to appear in court because of an incident back in April, when he was arrested after being pulled over at 1 a.m. on Amnicola Highway. Police say that he was driving 97 miles per hour in a 50-mile-per-hour zone. His hearing had been postponed several times because of his baseball schedule.
Judge David Bales presided over the case. After reading the charges, he read a letter written by the Dodgers' Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen on Puig's behalf. The letter detailed Puig's involvement in the Los Angeles community and called him “an asset.” Rosen said that Puig was active in several charity organizations that worked with underprivileged youth in the area. The letter also said that Puig had attended charity fundraisers for an orphanage in Zambia.
After reading the letter, Judge Bales addressed the courtroom and emphasized that Puig's case was not treated differently or specially in spite of Puig's fame and media presence. Judge Bales said “The state of Tennessee is the prosecuting entity, I have nothing to do with it...All cases are treated the same.”
Defense Attorney Mike Little pointed out to Judge Bales that prior to this event, his client had a clean record. And although Puig did not have insurance papers with him when he was pulled over, he did have insurance at the time and brought those records to court. Attorney Little recommended community service.
After taking everything into consideration, Judge Bales decided to dismiss the case against Puig. His reasons were Puig's lack of prior record, the fact that he currently lives out of state, and Puig's active participation in community service activities.
Prosecutor Neal Pinkston made the dismissal recommendation.
An interpreter was provided for Puig, who speaks little English.
Judge Bales took the cases in alphabetical order, coming to Puig near the end of the docket.
Puig left immediately after the hearing. This year, the Dodgers were the leader of the National League West but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. Their overall record was 92-70.