In Kentucky's version of a modern day "Monkey Trial", a Marshall County resident and Democrat activist was convicted Friday in Trigg County District Court.
Let me set the scene for you: 79 year old Clarence J. Latham Jr. is the defendant charged with disorderly conduct. Mr. Latham's attorney is prominent Labor attorney Buddy Culter of the Louisville firm Priddy, Cutler, Miller & Meade. Cutler is a graduate of Yale and Cornell Law. The presiding Judge is James R. "Jamus" Redd III who is a graduate of Harvard. The prosecuting attorney is Duncan Cavanah who is an assistant County Attorney for Trigg and Christian Counties. Cavanah is a Transylvania Grad and UK Law Grad.
In 2008 Mr. Latham was granted a permit to have his "float", in this case a little wagon with Democrat signs and stickers with a spinner, in the Trigg County Ham Festival Parade. Keep in mind this same float with the same slogans have appeared before in the Trigg County parade as well many others around West Kentucky for years.
Parade organizers had been concerned about a sticker the year before that included a word that was printed as "Bullsh-t" on it. Out of respect Mr. Latham had covered it up. in 2008, one of the parade organizers approached Mr. Latham saying " I see your here again and have that "Nigger" shirt on," referring to his Obama T-shirt he was wearing. The Organizer told Mr. Latham" Your out of here". Mr. Latham stated that he asked if the "Bullsh-t" sticker was the problem. The reply he received was that police were being called to remove him from the parade.
The parade organizer in question is Craig Fowler. In fairness to all, my sources tell me that Mr. Fowler is a Democrat and that they believe it would have been really out of character for Mr. Fowler to have used the word "Nigger". There appears to be no witnesses so it is matter of whose story you choose to believe.
I spoke with Mr. Latham and he states that police showed up and basically told him he was under arrest. Mr. Latham said, " They would not even tell me what I was being charged with." The 79 year old Mr. Latham was taken downtown in handcuffs and If that was not bad enough, Mr. Latham said that the Cadiz police even used ankle chains on him.
Mr. Latham said he was willing to resolve the matter if all parties offered an apology and apparently my sources tell me that the Commonwealth was more than willing to dismiss the charges but with prejudice. As this matter progressed everyone offered up an apology Mr. Latham said, except the City of Cadiz who he states even opposed having the charges dismissed.
True to his word, Mr. Latham decided that if the City would not apologize then he wanted his day in court. Mr. Latham got his day in court but to no avail. Mallory Lawrence who is very respected in the Trigg County business and political community along with former Congressman Carroll Hubbard testified for Mr. Latham.
Mr. Latham was convicted of disorderly conduct and was only ordered to pay the $250 fine. Judge Redd waived the court cost and fees.
I know Judge Redd personally and the prosecutor Duncan Cavanah. Duncan is a fair & mild mannered person who unlike many prosecutors does not make his job personal. Duncan is someone who does his job and goes home at the end of the day. I'm sure he probably had better things to do than waste a day prosecuting this.
On Friday it was announced that the Ham Festival would no longer have a parade. UMMMh. Interesting timing don't you think.
Defense attorney Buddy Cutler told me today that he was very disappointed in the verdict. " I believe this case is about exercising the right of free speech". "Mr. Latham just wanted to have his float in the parade. We're disappointed," said Cutler. Mr. Cuttler said he did not know at this point if there would be an appeal or further legal action in this matter.
Mr. Latham in our interview said that " had I been given the chance I would have just loaded up and gone home." Someone said, stated Latham " Get the fucking thing on the trailer and get out", but the next thing I knew I was being arrested.
Mr. Latham will undergo open heart surgery on Tuesday at Lourdes hospital in Paducah. He told me that he is glad this is over and stated," I don't have to live with the lies like Cadiz does."
So where does this leave us? What does all this have to say?
First of all even though I'm pretty conservative on certain issues I defend the right of free speech just like I do the right to bear arms. God does not give a tinker's damn about bumper stickers, signs or T-Shirts. Besides the word "Bullsh-t" is not going to offend anyone old enough to know what it means. I feel pretty certain I have heard worse in Trigg County before.
Anyway you cut it this is a black eye on the City of Cadiz and the Trigg County Ham Festival. A 79 year old man in ankle chains-give me a break. Cancelling the parade using the excuse of liability insurance. Maybe, maybe not. Sounds like Trigg County folks may be fearing who might want to be in the parade after this embarrassing episode.
It appears that everyone involved picked their poison. Mr. Latham got his trial and the City of Cadiz and the Ham Festival got rid of activist they don't agree with.Maybe
The Ham Festival will go on and I am going out on a limb and predict that there will be hundreds of people wearing T-Shirts with a lot more the "Bullsh-t" on it this year.
As one friend suggested to me today that Mr. Latham's only problem was bringing bull into a Ham Festival and maybe I ought to get him a sign that says,
" I Got Porked in Cadiz, KY"
Oh, Trigg County. You have the highest unemployment rate in West Kentucky & one of the highest in Kentucky. Your Churches are threatening to throw people out of their congregations for signing an alcohol sales election petition. Sounds like you need to work on repairing your image and reputation. If you truly believe what you say then you best be apologizing to God. Don't worry about Mr. Latham, I think a bunch Democrat activist will be paying you a visit in October to make the Trigg County Ham Festival one to remember so make lots of bar-b-que.
** Thanks to West Kentucky Journal of Politics for bringing this to my attention from their site. Thanks to my sources and Mr. Latham & Mr. Cutler for their interview.