In a surprising roll of the dice, attorney Richard Ingram has filed suit on behalf of the man whose wife, son-in-law and unborn grandchild were killed in a June 4 car crash, and whose daughter is still hospitalized.
Because Tiara Smith didn't have insurance on the Ford Explorer she was driving that day, John Branton probably won't be able to win any significant amount of money from Smith to compensate for the loss of his family members.
But here's hoping he gets every possible dime out of her anyway.
There are times in our criminal and civil justice system when we focus too much on the idea of "innocent until proven guilty," forgetting that the concept applies only to the jurors. The rest of us are free to assume guilt.
There's no denying Smith was driving that SUV that day. The rest of the laundry list of charges against her will have to be proven in court, but I have no doubt she, along with career felon Denise Yvonne "Nebula" McNeely, were running away from a shoplifting at Marshalls department store in Evans when the Explorer slammed into the side of Lonnie Turner's car, killing him, his mother and his unborn child.
(Smith and McNeely are Augusta residents, by the way, which I guess proves that we don't need buses to bring shoplifters to our stores - they can get here on their own.)
There's probably no jackpot coming to Branton's family as a result of the suit. Then again, there isn't enough money to compensate for his loss.
This wasn't the only lawsuit filed this past week. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor filed a lawsuit against fellow Democrat Cathy Cox, alleging that she has failed to produce records for Taylor's camp as required by the state's open records laws, blah blah blah.
Sort of like Ingram's suit, which is mostly to make a principled point, Taylor's suit mostly is designed to get a headline or two.
Meanwhile, Cox's folks have been foaming at the mouth over a Taylor commercial that contends Cox Voted Against the Lottery, something she and the reporter who quoted her comments in that regard both say is not true.
It's funny, though; I know a lot of people who really DID vote against Georgia's lottery, and they'll proudly tell you so. They happen to believe gambling is sinful. Yet here we are in the Bible belt, with two people running for governor, falling all over themselves to assert how strongly they support the state-sanctioned gambling that transfers money from poor, dumb people to wealthy, smart people (which is what the "lottery for education" does).
In Georgia's Church of Politics, gambling isn't a sin, but opposing the lottery is. Go figure.
In the end, Cox and Taylor are both running for the chance to get beaten in November by incumbent Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, who also is a lottery supporter.
Speaking of big wrecks, have you heard of Ray McBerry? Unless you're a card-carryin', Confederate flag wavin' Perdue-hater, probably not.
McBerry filed as a Republican to run against Perdue, and since then his supporters have been frustrated that the state party is ignoring him, and that the media won't acknowledge his existence.
It raises an interesting debate. Is it the role of the media to simply report equally on everyone who signs up to run for office? Or does the press have a duty to also weigh the seriousness of those candidates, and to not allow coverage to lend credibility to someone who otherwise has none?
It might be just a gamble, but I'm betting McBerry has as much chance of beating Perdue as Ingram has of getting enough money out of the suit against Smith to finish his Evans law office.
They're probably better off buying lottery tickets.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.)
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