Smarter Than Matt Jones — Brian Williams Acquitted


This story sort of got lost in the scuffle of the last two days. Heck, who wants to write about a DUI trial when there’s relocation fears and Matt Jones? Especially since this trial ended happily for Brian Williams. Who wants happy things in their news anyway?

For the purpose of full disclosure, I must mention that I work in the Duval County Courthouse and I was one courtroom over from this trial. I am pretty sure I messed up a TV shot of Brian Williams’s family huddle around him as I left my courtroom, cellphone in hand, texting away without a care in the world. Oops, sorry Channel 4 news.

Anyway, this case is fairly interesting for a DUI. Brian Williams went to a club, was coming home and avoided a manhole cover, citing that he feared it would mess up his rims. That is when he got pulled over for DUI.

Here is Williams’s account of the field sobriety test:

"Williams said he agreed to take field sobriety tests, including walking a straight line heel to toe, but stopped after Bridges walked away. That happened three times, Williams said. “The last time we went through it, I said, ‘Why am I walking if you’re not going to watch me?’ He said, ‘You’re not going to do it?’ I said, ‘Not if you’re not going to watch me,’ ” Williams testified. “I knew I was going to jail when I tried to walk the line and he wasn’t even watching me.”"

Williams didn’t even get offered to do a breath test until he entered the jail (which is all sorts of craziness). He refused, saying “I didn’t see it helping me.” Not really the smartest choice, as he lost his license for six months and it could have been the downfall of this case, but he said he would have done things differently now.

The more interesting piece of this case is that a police officer accused Williams of ranting and raving both sexist and racist remarks.

"Williams told the Times-Union that withdrawing his plea was the only way to clear his name after arresting Officer Ernest Bridges accused him of threatening sex acts with the officer’s family, offering his female passenger for sex in exchange for release and belittling the officer with epithets ranging from “trailer park trash” to unprintable profanity."

That means that to believe his account, the jury would have to buy into Williams’s story. Hank Coxe, Williams’s attorney, argued his side well enough for Williams to be acquitted of all charges.

What is Williams going to do now?

"Williams faced up to a year in jail and a $500 fine if convicted of the misdemeanor. Now he said he’s planning to go camping and “sleep for three days.”"

Congratulations, Brian Williams.