Everybody struck out in Marietta teen drinking incident

The trove of embarrassing details about a December teen drinking party involving Cobb parents in high places has led to a refiling of charges and the resignation of an assistant solicitor who allowed baseball practice to qualify as community service. (See earlier blog on this issue and the larger question of the treatment of middle-class kids and athletes by the courts.)

I suspect more fallout will come from this case, which seems fraught with poor judgments by people who should know better, including state Sen. John Wiles. The party took place at the Marietta home of Diane Busch, an attorney at Wiles’  firm and a magistrate judge.

After police arrived at the party at 3 a.m.  in response to neighbors’ complaints, Wiles showed up to pick up his son. The police report states that Wiles asked officers not to give a citation to one teen because his baseball scholarship could be yanked. While Wiles says he spoke only as a concerned parent, the report says that he told police he was a state senator. The students at the party attended the same private school as the senator’s son.

Wiles issued a statement this week saying, “I was not present when the alleged underaged drinking took place; I was called there after the fact. I did not attempt in any way to use my position as a state legislator to influence the police at the scene. I was there as a father picking up his son, and as an attorney who had a co-worker facing a difficult situation.”

The outrage over the case led Cobb Solictor Barry Morgan to also issue a statement in which he said, “While I acknowledge that this case was not handled to the standard I set for the Cobb County Solicitor General’s Office, as head of this agency I accept responsibility for it. I have already begun to revise and distribute policies, train employees in better negotiation technique and am working to partner younger lawyers with more experienced lawyers to ensure we don’t repeat the experience and results of this case. ”

Morgan’s statement acknowledged that “baseball practice should never be a substitute for community service, as band practice would not be sufficient community service.’”

According to an excerpt from the AJC story:

Cobb County soolicitor Barry Morgan has refilled charges against a 19-year-old accused of drinking at the home of a magistrate who also was his lawyer. And the assistant solicitor who agreed to let William Maxwell count baseball practice as his community service has resigned, Morgan said.

Morgan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that he refilled the minor in possession of alcohol charges Wednesday, two weeks after the charge was withdrawn as part of a plea agreement.

Morgan said Maxwell did not meet the criteria to enter a diversion program, especially one that allowed him to satisfy 40 hours of community service by practicing with his Rice University baseball team for 150 hours. Also, Maxwell’s blood-alcohol content was .171, more than twice the .08 BAC that is the maximum allowed to participate in a diversion program, Morgan said.

“He doesn’t meet the eligibility of our diversion program, so there will be another resolution [to the case],” Morgan said.

While these adults were trying to protect the offending teens, they have made it worse for them. Wiles complained of the media attention, but his role has contributed to the news reports.

40 comments Add your comment

Name (required)

February 25th, 2010
4:46 pm

Kids these days are idiots. When we had high school booze parties, we turned the music down so as NOT to attract neighbors/police attention. But seriously, the drinking age really needs to be lowered here….and the driving aged raised.

Garth

February 25th, 2010
5:08 pm

Underneath this veneer of justice is a story of malfeasance, corruption, favortism, and just plain old indifference to basic
right and wrong–the kind of stuff that wasn’t tolerated a mere
generation ago. Maybe they (the voters) will clean it up like
they did in Phoenix City Alabama back in the fifties.

catlady

February 25th, 2010
5:25 pm

EVERY head that did not do their job or tried to influence peddle should roll, and charges liberally filed.

B. Killebrew

February 25th, 2010
5:39 pm

The teens attend/attended the Walker School (in Marietta).

Strong Black Man

February 25th, 2010
5:41 pm

Just another example of “white skin privilege.” If these had been minority youths I have no doubt that they would have felt the full brunt of law enforcement. I also doubt that “missy” Maureen would have deemed the article important enough to write about.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege

torn

February 25th, 2010
7:31 pm

you know, a lot of parents now are resorting to hosting the drinking parties in order to “protect” the kids whom they feel will do it behind their backs and get into more trouble that way. I was never a partier in highschool, but my brother was and my parents allowed it for that reason. I don’t think my parents did the wrong thing, they didn’t purchase the alcohol, they didn’t let anyone drive, and they kept the noise level down. Everyone was always safe and nothing ever happened. On the other hand, this shows the kids that they don’t have to follow the law. I’m torn on this issue. kids are going to drink, whether it’s with parental supervision or not. Many people think those parents are just the worst on the planet, but what do you think is safer? Kids driving drunk? Kids drinking out in the woods? or kids drinking with parental supervision. Yes, bad things can still happen. And bad things can happen to people OVER 21 who drink, too.

LookingAskance

February 25th, 2010
7:57 pm

Name (required), I TOTALLY agree. I don’t think the statistics show any big change since the stupid legislature (and would somebody for God’s sake stake out the strip clubs with an iPhone the weekend before the legislature lets out? Duh!) changed the legal age. It’s ridiculous. I don’t have a problem with a bunch of college kids playing a little beer pong and having some innocent fun in somebody’s basement. Europe has the correct attitude. America is so weird about the alcohol issue. Hey cops, how about getting rid of the gangbangers and the meth, and worry about the small potatoes later, huh? Or is that too difficult? Hey, it took four cops to respond to a noise complaint in a country club neighborhood. Wow! Just like Jack Bauer!

Mattie

February 25th, 2010
8:11 pm

Far too many parents in the northern suburbs turn a blind eye towards underage drinking. There have been instances here where kids turn over their car keys upon arrival, ante up for the beer purchased by host parents, and nobody complains because the kids aren’t driving afterwards.

I recently read where the average cost of a DUI is $20,000. That figure includes fines, attorney fees, and insurance surcharges. It does not include possible job loss, or the difficulty in finding a job with a DUI in your past.

know the law

February 25th, 2010
8:50 pm

Parents can give alcohol to their own children, they cannot give it to other peoples children. Even if everyone knows its a drinking party, the parent of the underage drinker must be present for legal consumption. If someone is driving impaired that is just plain out “STUPID” call a taxi, stay where you’re at, get a room, have a DD, if you plan on partying, plan how you are getting home. I have worked with law enforcement concerning DUI, and you never want to go to someones house in the middle of the night, knock on the door, and watch as family members scream; run down the drive; deny you are telling them the truth; God forbid you ever have to tell a parent their child is dead because of impaired driving (drunk driving) and pray that its never you that gets the knock on the door.

Nikole Allen

February 25th, 2010
8:59 pm

I cannot believe that parents actually debate/consider giving alcohol to teenagers. If they get into trouble drinking on their own, so be it. Underage drinking is wrong. And should not be tolerated by parents. What are you teaching your kids? It’s ok to break the law as long as I am around to protect you?

steve

February 25th, 2010
10:18 pm

So, if you hosted a teenage party, and had each one of the kid’s parents there to serve their own kids, would the party be legal?

Rob Vinson

February 25th, 2010
10:31 pm

High school kids shouldn’t be drinking at parties…period. But some will always be doing it. It’s a shame. Unless they are 21, adults shouldn’t give alchohol to kis or condone it. The adults need to be held accountable.

jim d

February 26th, 2010
8:29 am

just for the record folks—i’ll have a beer with my son anytime i damn well wish. and will do so legally in georgia even though he’s not 21. LOOK IT UP!!

the prof

February 26th, 2010
10:01 am

hmmmm….how many of you shoudn’t be casting stones on this issue?

ca

February 26th, 2010
10:58 am

Yes, Jim. But only in your own home.

jim d

February 26th, 2010
11:04 am

tru dat—but point is i can and have done it. Hell even had more than a few visiting him at school in our motel room

Ole Guy

February 26th, 2010
11:06 am

Let’s look at this episode from a different angle. Now even though most of us probably drank ourselves silly as hi school/college teens, as adults, we don’t condone such things. However, (and I’m venturing into areas hitherto unknown) did dad pick up his kid from a party, on private property, at which booze was openly made available to teens? Were any teens at this party in possession of car keys? Was the party under some modicum of adult supervision?

One of the things which, to this day, pisses me off is the fact that a kid can get shot at in the political interests of this Country, but can’t order up a beer till he’s 21. If the answers to the stated questions are what I think they might be, then these kids were exercising a level of maturity which we often feel somehow miraculously appears upon one’s 21st birthday.

While I no more condone underage drinking any more than irresponsible adult drinking, the rules, like many cast upon society, are both antiquated and in need of adjustment to fit reality. If this party was conducted in the responsible manner in which I suspect, than what the hell’s the problem? If, on the other hand, there were “open areas” which held potential for someone getting hurt, then attack those areas.

* This WAS private property.
* It is assumed that adult supervision WAS present.
* In that pop picked up his kid from the party, how did the other kids get home?

Talk about teaching critical thinking skills to kids…we, as adults, often-times fail miserably at this very task.

Yankee

February 26th, 2010
11:19 am

“tru dat—but point is i can and have done it. Hell even had more than a few visiting him at school in our motel room”

…and then we went to the tractor pull.

jim d

February 26th, 2010
11:27 am

nope–kicked back and watched a good movie

hawk teach

February 26th, 2010
3:57 pm

Jim, next time invite me. I’ll have a few with you two.

jim d

February 26th, 2010
4:33 pm

see ya at the down under in april

jim d

February 26th, 2010
4:34 pm

give me a call sometime

jim d

February 26th, 2010
4:35 pm

he’s home first week of april

Ole Guy

February 27th, 2010
11:38 am

Jimmy, if the down under is of the same as down under, vegas…TSK TSK TSK!

jim d

March 1st, 2010
7:01 am

ole guy—not quite—name of my tiki bar :)

Johnny Walker

March 7th, 2010
11:39 pm

@ StrongBlackMan, I can be critical of most anything, but to suggest that there should be more charges, or that the white kids were let off easy, is ridiculous. As for the article not being important enough to write about, the home belonged to a magistrate judge, and a state senator arrived on the scene. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignorance

Skye

March 8th, 2010
8:21 am

Why would anyone in their right minds encourage teenage drinking? Often times Alcohol and Adults don’t mix, let alone Alcohol and Teens. The notion, “They’re going to drink anyway, it might as well be in the home” Pleease! Parents are idiots if they condone teenage drinking. I am convinced that parents who encourage underage drinking “in the home” are probably alcoholics themselves. Not necessarily the stereotypical alcoholics, but the functional ones. The alcohol have probably impaired their brain to the point it effects their decision making. On a side note, I’m convinced the guy “StrongBlackMan” is not even black, probably just some stupid young white guy getting his kicks off of those tired racial controversy threads. Man it gets old! Let it go!

BeenThereDoneThat

March 8th, 2010
10:51 am

My almost 21 year old (2 more weeks!!) has been arrested and put in JAIL for being in possession of alcohol. Lets see, not mature enough to drink, but mature enough to be put in jail? That’s insane. If you are on a college campus, you get fined by the college, put on probabtion by the college, fined by the town, put on probabtion by the town, have to go to court and do a ridiculously stupid “assessment” and pay for it. All totaled, per incident it costs about $1000.00. And the kicker is, you don’t even need to be “in possession” of the alcohol. Even if you are at a party and others are drinking and you are not, you can and will be charged. And its very hard to beat it. They don’t do breathalyzers, they just write tickets. It is a HUGE money maker for the towns. In some college towns, the cops wait outside of bars and then arrest kids who come out. THey don’t shut down the bars that serve them because that would be bad for the town and the economy.

me2

March 9th, 2010
12:36 am

to everyone comparing their college kid, the potential politician, etc etc to these kids remember these were high school kids. Not a sophomore in college and not some 19 y/o trying to run for office. Maybe there’s an argument for lowering the drinking age but lowering it to allow 14, 15, 16, and 17 y/o seems a tad much. I know full grown adults that can barely handle their alcohol and don’t want to imagine the plethora of mistakes a 15 y/o would make after drinking too much. And what’s with the “they weren’t driving” argument? Ummm maybe you’ve been under a rock, but there are plenty other bad decisions that are made when you throw alcohol in a situation. We all know teenagers haven’t quite mastered their decision-making skills. Moreover, the law is clear – if it’s your kid in your home, you’re good to go and if not…well you see where breaking the rules (albeit not the best rules) get you.

Anonymous

March 10th, 2010
3:18 am

I went to The Walker School, and was a close friend of Will Maxwell’s. He had a 4.43 GPA, was involved in many school activities, and is a smart, kind, and compassionate person. As “teenagers” (we are 19) are going to drink, just like our parents drank when they were our age. He is a great baseball player and is studying economics, and I for one am glad he didn’t get a harsh punishment that would have ruined his career for making a mistake. One that pales in comparison to what many other young adults do. Drinking isn’t even that big of a deal, not when you drink at a safe place and don’t drink and drive. I mean, it’s going to be legal for us in two years anyways, so everyone just needs to calm down over this and stop being hypocrites.

Ray

March 10th, 2010
2:14 pm

Everyone seems to harp on “lower the drinking age”. It seems no one noticed the vast majority of the underage drinkers were not even 18. Four were over 17 and the rest were 16 and under.

The bottom line is the standard has to be set some where. No matter what age the legislators choose to be the legal age it will always leave someone “nearly old enough”. That line is currently 21 and law enforcement is tasked with enforcing that law. While many parents on here seem to think it is unfair when their “nearly old enough” child is caught it is not something law enforcement can ignore since they do not make the law. The people the citizens elect make the laws.

BamaGurl

March 12th, 2010
12:22 pm

I agree that had this been people of color things would not have gone as they did. All of their Black behinds would be behind bars because that is how they do it in the State of Georgia! And for this city/state to be soooooooooooooooooooooo black where is Joseph Lowery, the King Family, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar when all this is happening???????????? Maybe they need the cameras around or maybe one of the Kings need somebody to mess with the $$ they haven’t earned. This state is anti-black when it comes to the law and all apologies and explanations when it is someone WHITE!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope they burn in HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Concerned Citizen

March 12th, 2010
12:28 pm

I agree. The law is the law. If you don’t like, get it changed. People wake up. Be responsible. Teach your children it is not okay to break the law. Underage drinking is not okay. It doesn’t matter that this young man has a high GPA or a scholorship. Maybe he should have acted more “smart” because he had so much to lose.

SouthernLady

March 12th, 2010
12:34 pm

Please get off the race issue. This has nothing to do with color of skin. There has been plenty of situations where people of color get the same type of treatments. It’s all about who you are and money. Nothing else. I have seen PLENTY of young white people get harsh treatment also. It’s time to drop the race thing. It’s been beat to death and it only shows how out-of-touch you are.

BamaGurl

March 12th, 2010
2:01 pm

SouthernLady, it shows how out of touch YOU are. Watch the News sweetie. White man gets ONE YEAR for slapping a baby 3-4 times in Walmart because the baby was crying. Black man gets FIVE YEARS for hitting a black coach. Now who is out of touch, SWEETIE??????????????? Let’s stop sugar coating mess and acting like everything is cool, sweetie. It is NOT!!!!!!!!!!! This is the most RACIST state for it to be sooooooooooooooooooooooooo Black! The whites run the courts and we are the ones in the courts and jails. The constitution is a recipe book for how to treat the coloreds. SWEETIE

Michael

March 12th, 2010
9:54 pm

As a criminal defense attorney I’d like to say Mo’ arrests = Mo’ Business! Don’t decriminalize anything! White, Black, Brown, Green –>> arrest them all!!!

jabster

March 13th, 2010
10:20 am

Concerned Citizen:

“The law is a @$$.”
–Charles Dickens

Just because “the law is the law” doesn’t make the law smart. And I know you know that.

http://www,chooseresponsibility.org

And, no, I am not an anarchist. And, no, I don’t think <18YOs should be attending keggers.

Lady B

March 13th, 2010
1:32 pm

BamaGurl, if you don’t like the big ATL, aka Black Hollywood, then you go find yourself another place. Aint no one tied you here!

Michael

March 15th, 2010
11:47 am

No, BamaGurl’s probation officer has her tied here. For a small fee I can get rid of that!

Miss the point

March 26th, 2010
11:34 pm

Are we missing the point? First – the police would not have been called if there had not been complaints of noises that sounded like gun shots at 3 am. Second, this story would never had made the papers if the adults had not used their positions as judge and state senator to try to get special treatment.