In response to a story I posted a few weeks ago, calling for JP Bud Osborn’s resignation after his DWI charge on Thanksgiving Day, the local paper contacted Mr. Osborn for comment. In the Sunday paper, Osborn said was quoted as saying:
I’ll say this: I’m not guilty.
He also said he will not resign.
This is a bit of a change of tune for Osborn, after he originally told the paper last month that he was “not highly intoxicated,” but failed to deny the charges outright (emphasis added).
The story of Mr. Osborn’s DWI was originally reported here on The Patriot. Since then, it has become statewide news, appearing in the state paper & on multiple Little Rock television news networks.
Yesterday’s article said that County Judge Mike Lincoln refused to comment on whether he thought Osborn should resign. His Republican primary challenger, Bill Haynie, has publicly called for Osborn’s resignation.
The paper also talked to other members of the quorum court for comment on this story. Only one of them that was successfully contacted, Horace Taylor (District 1, Beebe), chose to call for Mr. Osborn’s resignation.
JP Bobby Burns of Beebe said he thought Osborn’s actions were unbecoming of a public official, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.
The other three JPs who were contacted–Ed Land, Kenneth Horton, and Bobby Quattlebaum–all agreed that Mr. Osborn should be assumed innocent until proven guilty, and they will not be calling for his resignation until Osborn is given his day in court on January 5th.
Now, I have always been a big believer in ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and I do believe this is a lost value in America. Too often we assume guilt when we have only read a headline of a story that includes few actual facts, rather speculation that is designed to sell newspapers. However, does that principle really apply in this situation?
Is Mr. Osborn alleging that he in fact did not blow a .13 breathalyzer test?
Or perhaps he is suggesting that the legal blood-alcohol content level in Arkansas is not really .08? How exactly is he innocent?
I understand that, legally speaking, the case could get thrown out if the police officer failed to read Mr. Osborn his Miranda Rights, or failed to fulfill some other procedural technicality.
But before today’s story, Mr. Osborn had not even denied that he was intoxicated on Thanksgiving Day, only that he was highly intoxicated. Why should we believe that he is innocent?
Even if the DWI charges against Mr. Osborn are dropped, he is also charged with Driving Left of Center and Failure to Maintain Traffic Lane. Are these charges also false?
I think this situation is fairly cut and dry. It appears that all of the JPs think very highly of Mr. Osborn’s character and do not want to be seen as judgmental, but surely we can judge his actions without casting judgment on his integrity.
Mr. Osborn broke the law. He put the lives of our friends & neighbors in danger. For that, he should vacate his position of leadership. Public officials should be held to a higher standard.