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Standing tall: A victory to brag about

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: February 23, 2008
WHEN former Oklahoma quarterback Charles Thompson was arrested on a public drunkenness complaint in November 2006, many probably assumed the once-troubled player had simply gotten into trouble again. But that wasn't the case, and Thompson set out to prove it.

Police who responded to noise complaints at an Oklahoma City hotel that night said Thompson was belligerent and smelled of alcohol. He was arrested after arguing with police for several minutes. Thompson said he was only arguing because they told him he and his group had to leave the hotel.

A city judge found Thompson guilty and fined him $69, after five witnesses testified Thompson hadn't been drinking and that no alcohol was in the room. Thompson appealed and recently the state Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, saying the city hadn't proved Thompson was drunk in a public place.

"A lot of people thought it was a small matter in terms of a fine, but it was a big matter in terms of my reputation,” Thompson said.

As a Sooner, he made national headlines in 1989 when he was arrested for selling cocaine. He went to prison, then finished his playing career at an NAIA school in Ohio. He returned to Oklahoma and for years has been involved in youth sports. He also speaks to schools and youth groups about his past.

"I knew I was right on this one. I knew I had to stand up,” Thompson said. No doubt this is one victory he'll savor.

Expensive memo
Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch made a controversial decision last year in the wording of a memo to city employees regarding religious-themed Christmas displays. The memo cost taxpayers $20,000 in attorney fees. We question what the attorneys did to warrant such a fee, and this adds to the cumulative evidence that lawyers never really lose with a case. Nevertheless, Couch had to eat his words and clarify that the ban on Christmas displays was intended for common areas, not personal workspaces. Two employees took umbrage with the memo and sued the city. A settlement resulted in the $20,000 award. This could have and should have been handled without a lawsuit, but it wasn't. The free speech rights of city workers are valuable — and now we know they're also costly.

Reaching too far
A lawmaker is reaching a bit too far with a bill that would require anyone arrested on a felony complaint to provide a DNA sample to law enforcement.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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