Roy Exum: Jackie McConnell Back In Court

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Jackie McConnell, the most notorious abuser of Tennessee Walking Horses that the world has ever known, will be arraigned on 22 counts of animal abuse in a Somerville, Tn., court today after a Grand Jury in the Fayette County Courthouse returned a true bill on Monday. The state charges were the result of an undercover video taken in 2011 and finally the man known as “Jackie The Jerk” will be brought before the court sometime in late spring.

McConnell, already a convicted felon after federal charges were proven in Chattanooga last year, will be arraigned with Jeff Dockery, who has three counts, and John Mayes, who has two. State authorities raided McConnell’s barn shortly after the scathing video showed him repeatedly clubbing, shocking and sadistically torturing the horses in his care to achieve the “Big Lick” unnatural gait that is today the scourge of the entire horse industry.

McConnell has a known record that includes over 30 unbroken years of persistent violations of the federal Horse Protection Act but, because laws have been so lax, he has done little more than wink and continue on his way. Last year Federal Judge Sandy Mattice forced the millionaire to pay a $75,000 fine and called him a felon, but McConnell, once a Hall of Fame trainer of the National Celebration headquarters in Shelbyville, could now see jail time on the state charges.

Efforts to reach Asst. DA Mark Davison in Fayette County were futile yesterday, but in July the state put into law an animal protection bill that made such abuse a felony, each count good for one-to-five years. Because the men were indicted before the law went into effect could be a sticking point; before the act of soring horses with caustic oils and pastes was merely a misdemeanor.

McConnell provided a trophy for this year’s Celebration and, while he is forbidden to own or train horses, it is suspected he still has a presence in the seedy “Big Lick” portion of showing horses, which has now made the state of Tennessee the world leader in horse abuse. (No other country purposely maims its horses for sport.)

McConnell’s lawyers, of course, are quick and eager to strike a plea with state prosecutors and knowledgeable persons suspect a judge in the West Tennessee court would approve such an arrangement if the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor might not be worthy of a full-face trial.

Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga are keen on better legislation – now proposed in Washington – and have said they will actively pursue horse abuse as horse-show season begins. “When you deal with murder, rape, strong-armed robbery, conspiracy and everything else we see, it is hard to admit horse abuse is pretty far down on the priority list,” said one assistant DA.

“But we are also well aware the public outcry against horse abuse is raging after the Jackie McConnell tape was shown on ABC News ‘Nightline’ and we haven’t had a case of any kind that caused such outrage. We will actively monitor and pursue and viable lead we can find.”

Officials of the Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other animal protection agencies are targeting Tennessee, as well as hotbeds of abuse in North Carolina and Kentucky. With last year’s success and strengthened Tennessee laws, many true horsemen feel violators must go to jail before the rampant soring will stop.

The top two equine veterinary groups in the United States have openly called on the nation’s lawmakers to ban the built-up pads, or stacks, that shady Walking Horse owners use, as well as performance devices and tight bands around the hooves. Legislation is pending but the “Big Lick” crowd is fighting back. Not long ago they held a reception for a disreputable Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell (not believed to be kin to Jackie).

The Kentucky senator has bullied the USDA to “lay off” the Shelbyville “Big Lick” crowd and was the subject of a scathing series in the Lexington newspaper this summer. But, just like the defiant and now-battered Big Lick hierarchy, the Republican Senator doesn’t seem to realize or even care he is a “bought” puppet of treacherous people.

Curiously, people haven’t forgotten the undercover tape or Jackie. The tape just won a Genesis Award in Los Angeles and copies of it have been viewed with disgust all over the world. Jackie is famous and, if state charges can somehow shoehorn the villain into jail, it will be a colossal achievement for the men and women worldwide who honor the horse.

royexum@aol.com

Jackie McConnell
Jackie McConnell

Roy Exum: Auburn’s Newest Mess

International Cooperation Needed To Achieve A Sustainable Future

Civil Discourse, A Necessary Skill In Our Democracy


Auburn’s football team is a 2-point favorite over Ole Miss this Saturday but the bigger question in Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend will be how much longer Tigers coach Bryan Harsin will be ... (click for more)

Taiwan is helping lead the way towards creating an environmentally friendly and sustainable future for all mankind. Taiwan is one of the worldwide leaders in manufacturing and produces many of ... (click for more)

Federal Courts often encounter disputes where the stakes are high, litigants hold strongly opposed opinions, and emotions run hot. Add to this a variety of sometimes conflicting personalities, ... (click for more)



Opinion

Roy Exum: Auburn’s Newest Mess

Auburn’s football team is a 2-point favorite over Ole Miss this Saturday but the bigger question in Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend will be how much longer Tigers coach Bryan Harsin will be the head coach. Oh, he’s had a heckuva season all right, ranked 18 th in the nation and 5-2 up until now, but when Auburn put a December 6 vaccine mandate on all of its employees, the high-priced ... (click for more)

International Cooperation Needed To Achieve A Sustainable Future

Taiwan is helping lead the way towards creating an environmentally friendly and sustainable future for all mankind. Taiwan is one of the worldwide leaders in manufacturing and produces many of the superconductors and chips used in products we use everyday. Even with a focus on the traditionally high-polluting industry of manufacturing, Taiwan has solutions to help reduce its global ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Man Killed On Highway 153 Had Just Been Involved In Drug Deal With The Shooter, Police Say; Genesis Vaughn Charged With Killing Stewart Luttrell

A man who was killed while driving along Highway 153 on Tuesday night had just carried out a drug deal with the shooter, police said. Stewart Brodie Luttrell, 35, was killed in the incident that resulted in traffic being clogged for hours. Luttrell's wife, 27, was also shot. Their two-year-old son was not injured. Police said Wednesday night that h omicide investigators had ... (click for more)

County Commission Makes Last-Minute Redistricting Changes Before Vote Next Wednesday On 11-Member Plan; Sparks Fly Between Sharpe, Smedley

The County Commission made last-minute redistricting changes to its 11-member plan at a lengthy meeting on Wednesday. The commission is expected to pass the plan next Wednesday and send it on to state officials for their approval. Officials said the completed plan is within deviation standards (not having one or more districts too much larger or smaller than others) and keeps ... (click for more)

Sports

Vols Focusing On Getting Healthy During Off Week Before Kentucky; QB Harrison Bailey Transferring

Tennessee Head coach Josh Heupel's inspired Tennessee team is balancing getting healthy and fostering player development during its open week, and the coaching staff will turn its attention to an important recruiting weekend on the road. The Volunteers (4-4) went through a light practice on Tuesday, put on the pads for an indoor practice on Wednesday and will have another workout ... (click for more)

Mocs Ready For Homecoming With Furman

Another week, another pivotal game. The Chattanooga Mocs and Furman Paladins square off Saturday in a game impacting the top of the Southern Conference standings. There are four teams with one loss and another with two vying for this year’s SoCon crown. Both the Mocs and Paladins are 4-3 on the campaign overall. Chattanooga enters 3-1 in the league, tied with VMI one-half ... (click for more)