November 20, 2007

One genius of the federal system is that issues that are properly local can fall under state jurisdiction and avoid the greasy federal grasp.

Of course, one of the major pitfalls of our system is the constant desire on the part of the feds to expand their power, and to force changes even when their power is restricted.

One example would be the illegitimate and ever-expanding "war on drugs," under which the federal government runs over individual privacy and property rights seemingly without limit or constraint

Whether cockfighting is one of these issues is, perhaps, dependent on your understanding of federalism and chicken rights.

That all said, one man in Tennessee is fighting the good fight for the cockfight.

Cockfighting case is state's : Local News : Knoxville News Sentinel: "'He wants his right to a jury trial (in state court), and to challenge the constitutionality of the state law that makes it a crime just to be a spectator at a cockfight,' said his lawyer, Charles Poole."

...The federal offer to drop charges against Webb and other defendants if they would plea to state charges without the possibility of judicial diversion "was nothing more than an offer made in the course of plea bargaining which (they) could accept or reject," Inman wrote.

In a pleading filed in the federal case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Neal Smith wrote, "Webb cannot show any actual prosecutorial vindictiveness, or even a presumption of vindictiveness, warranting dismissal of the indictment."

Although the double jeopardy rule does not prevent dual state and federal prosecution of the same offense, there is a U.S. Justice Department regulation that restricts when such prosecutions can occur. That rule could come into play if Webb's case is heard in state court before the federal case begins.

"The fact that cockfighters prefer to be prosecuted in state court is an example of why the weakness of our state laws needs to be addressed by the state Legislature," said Leighann McCollum, director of the Tennessee chapter of the Humane Society of the United States. She was in the courtroom Friday to observe the proceedings.

Trial for Webb and two other defendants in U.S. District Court in Greeneville is expected to begin Dec.10. No date has been set for a state court trial.

Inman's recommendation and Hooper's ruling can each be appealed, but as of late Friday afternoon, neither one had been.

When the Del Rio Cock Fight Pit was raided, many at the scene were issued citations for violating the state law against attending a cockfight.

Most of them opted to plead guilty and pay a $50 fine, but Webb and several other defendants opted to contest the charges in state court."

He could have just paid the minimal $50 fee, but clearly he heard his calling.

The idea that state laws are weaker (i.e. less restrictive) than those favored by the central government might be something the Founder's would appreciate.

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