Roy Exum: No Criminal Background?

Monday, October 1, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

There is a lawyer in West Tennessee named David Douglas who seems to be pretty slick. He’s representing Jackie McConnell, the serial horse abuser who is facing 17 counts of animal cruelty as depicted on a horrendous video tape that has been seen by millions. Jackie was set to go to trial last Tuesday morning in Fayette County but lawyer Douglas quickly got the case pushed back to Nov. 13.

That way, the legal eagle said, he hopes to work a plea deal with district attorney Mike Dunavant so McConnell will receive only probation after he savagely beat and abused horses in his Collierville barn. The lawyer Douglas explained, “(Jackie) has no criminal background so certainly we’d be asking for probation and hoping the state may agree to that.

“This is a complicated case,” Douglas told a reporter for the Jackson Sun newspaper. “It’s a lot of counts but we believe we have had some level of success in getting this resolved, and I think by the 13th, it will be resolved. But until the plea is either entered or agreed to and the judge has approved it, that’s all subject to change.”

Excuse me but how much longer will it be before this ridiculous charade comes to a stop? To begin, Jackie McConnell became a convicted felon on Sept. 18 in a ederal court in Chattanooga. While his West Tennessee counsel claims his client has no criminal background, a combination of thin laws and a passive horse industry has hidden over 30 years of McConnell’s systematic horse abuse and hundreds of animals that have been sored at his whim.

The problem is that McConnell’s long list of suspensions and abuses in the industry have been civil matters and he wasn’t prosecuted by federal officials until just this year when the first-ever legal actions were sought regarding the Horse Protection act. Ironically, every conviction was brought on a charge other than animal cruelty. Not until this July did livestock cruelty become a felony in the state of Tennessee, which is why McConnell only received misdemeanor charges after actually using an electric cattle prod on a horse’s lips.

When McConnell appeared in Federal Court last month, Judge Sandy Mattice assured the crowd that being a federal felon was “a pretty big thing” and required the defendant – who pleaded guilty – to pay a fine of $75,000 rather than putting the disgraced horse trainer in jail. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had already fined McConnell $150,000.

But in West Tennessee, where it is explained “things are done a little differently,” apparently a federal felony has no merit nor bearing when lawyer Douglas can say, “no criminal background.” Great goodness, all they have to do is show the nauseating tape and the prosecutor can produce scores of eyewitnesses who will confirm McConnell has a long string of citations for abusing horses.

Close observers say that lawyer Douglas got the court date pushed back not so the cases of two other defendants could be heard but in hopes the hot issue will cool down with the autumn winds. To the contrary, the public sentiment towards the abusive segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry has never been as harsh.

Just last week it was learned veterinarian Dr. Steven L. Mullins, who has served as the president of the SHOW group in Shelbyville, had abruptly stepped down in a move that promises further turmoil to the much-maligned “Big Lick” segment. SHOW has sued the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in a Texas court and the legal tiff is nothing compared to sordid reputation that the McConnell tape has triggered across the country for the Big Lick’s unnatural gait and wide-spread cheating.

Some believe Mullins’ departure is a financial necessity after a very “tense” National Celebration in late August and Wade Adams, a longtime employee who oversaw the Shelbyville physical facilities for 12 years, has apparently been fired after a heated disagreement with new Celebration president Mike Inman. Inman just replaced Dr. Doyle Meadows in the Shelbyville hierarchy.

Two of the nation’s top equine veterinary groups are demanding the stacks, pads, and “performance devices” that have famously hidden abuse from inspectors now be banned and congressional legislation has already been instigated due to the public’s outcry. Both national and state legislators are being bombarded with angry mailings from their constituents while lobbyists for what is called “the dark side” are working furiously against much-needed reforms.

Sadly, the great majority of the public who own and adore Walking Horses have been unfairly castigated by the actions and behavior of the Shelbyville-based organizations and Celebration’s glaring feud with not just the USDA but the Humane Society of the United States as well. “It makes you want to throw up,” said former Maryland Senator Joseph Tydings, who wrote the Horse Protection Act in 1970. “The Big Lick has got to go!”

Please, are you kidding me! As long as Jackie McConnell and those like him are allowed to skate on probation charges, the Big Lick isn’t going anywhere. And felony charges? There were numerous incidents and proven abuse seen at the Shelbyville show in August but Bedford County officers said it was a federal manner and not one arrest was made, despite the fact it became a state law on July 1.

Outside the Sheriff’s office in Shelbyville there is a huge sign today that reads, “We support the TWH.” No kidding.

royexum@aol.com


National Standards Needed For Voting

Sweet Justice

Call For A Memorial/Monument To United States Colored Troops At National Cemetery


It’s a shame that in 2018 there are no national standards when it comes to voting. It should be the same in Tennessee as in Arizona or Maine. Why are we still using voting machines? We should ... (click for more)

Charges dismissed against Jeff Styles. Lady Justice, with one of the best criminal defense lawyers in the county, Lee Davis, prevailed. Sweet Justice. Like many Chattanoogans, ... (click for more)

Introduction: For African-Americans, the Civil War was more than the divergent paths the Northern and Southern sections of the country embarked upon, but it became to represent America living ... (click for more)


Opinion

National Standards Needed For Voting

It’s a shame that in 2018 there are no national standards when it comes to voting. It should be the same in Tennessee as in Arizona or Maine. Why are we still using voting machines? We should be voting from our phones or computers online. We pay our bills online and buy Christmas online. The United States government does it’s business online. Maybe then politicians won’t be ... (click for more)

Sweet Justice

Charges dismissed against Jeff Styles. Lady Justice, with one of the best criminal defense lawyers in the county, Lee Davis, prevailed. Sweet Justice. Like many Chattanoogans, listening to 102.3 on the way to work has been part of my morning routine for 24 years. As natural as my first cup of coffee, and every bit as necessary. But we have missed you, El ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Attorneys Ask Lifting Of Home Confinement For Hazelwood After Higher Court Allows Him To Stay Out During Appeal; Government Is Opposed

Attorneys for former Pilot Travel Centers president Mark Hazelwood are asking Judge Curtis Collier for the lifting of his home confinement after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said he could remain out during his appeal. In the alternative, the attorneys ask that he be able to leave his Knoxville home between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The motion also requests that Hazelwood be ... (click for more)

Tyner Man Arrested When Woman Finds Him With Items From Home Of Her Deceased Parents

A Tyner man has been arrested after police said a woman found him at the home of her deceased parents. J.C. Donaldson, 32, of 7239 Tyner Road, is charged with aggravated burglary. The woman said she found a white Buick in her parents' driveway. She said she called her sister to ask if it was her, but she said it was not. She ran into Donaldson, who told her that someone ... (click for more)

Sports

Hayes Sisters Combine For 41 Points As East Hamilton Clips Page, 64-55

When teams face East Hamilton’s Lady Hurricanes this season, they automatically will try to control the Hayes sisters defensively. Page didn’t fare so well with that Saturday. Madison Hayes, a highly recruited junior, and McKenna Hayes, a promising freshman, combined for 41 points as East Hamilton rallied in the second half to beat the Lady Patriots, 64-55, in a Hall of Champions ... (click for more)

Mocs Drop 63-42 Loss To Southwest Missouri

The Chattanooga Mocs had a hard time finding the bottom of the net in a 63-42 loss to Southeast Missouri in the Goldie & Herman Ungar Classic. The Mocs were limited to less than 30 percent shooting for the second consecutive night at the Mitchell Center. Jerry Johnson, Jr., led Chattanooga with 12 points. Jonathan Dalton and Ledarrius Brewer pace the Redhawks with 15 and ... (click for more)