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Berry Tramel

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Joe Mixon case: Former state legislator says DA did not follow the law

by Berry Tramel Published: August 27, 2014
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The opinions never seem to stop coming in the Joe Mixon case. The latest: former Oklahoma state legislator Mike Fair.

Mixon, of course, is the OU tailback who was charged with a misdemeanor count of an act resulting in gross injury after an altercation with an OU coed. Most people know the general details.

Fair emailed me this week with this declaration: District Attorney (Greg) Mashburn Did Not Serve the Intent of the Law. I know, I helped write it.

“Back in the 1980 elections, I had already served four years in the state House of Representatives. A friend, Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, was elected that year and we served together on the House Criminal Justice Committee. Because of my experience as a lawmaker, Rebecca asked me to help her take gender out of Oklahoma criminal law.

“Over the next few years we often sat down and went through the statutes, line by line, rewriting the law. If it is wrong for a man to commit a crime against a woman, it is wrong for a person to commit a crime against a person. Because of my reputation as a hardliner on crime and punishment, Rebecca also asked me to join her in carrying the proposals on the House floor. The team of a conservative Republican and a moderate Democrat was effective. I don’t recall a time when we failed to achieve our purpose. I was elected to the Senate, and Rebecca left to raise her family. She later returned to the state House and is being term-limited out, this November. I was term-limited out in November 2004.

“If the person, Ms. Molitor, verbally assaulted Joe Mixon, she was guilty of assault. When she shoved him and slapped him, she was guilty of battery. For District Attorney Mashburn to make the case of ‘punching a girl’ as any different from her crime of pushing and slapping, shows an ignorance of the law. His filing a charge relating to an act resulting in gross injury, again incorrect. If Mr. Mixon had sat on this person and pounded her face, he might be guilty of such a charge. One return blow does not demonstrate any more than self-defense.

“If I was asked, I would tell Mr. Mixon not to be in such places at 3:00 in the morning. Growing up, on the playground, fights started when one person shoved another person. A blow to the face (slap) means the fight is already in progress. My own ‘fight or run’ reflexes would have been automatic. My grandmother or mom would have busted my butt for hitting a girl. But then, girls usually didn’t start a fight with a guy, back then.

“If I was asked to testify as to the intent of the law, I would do so. I already formulated the intent when Rebecca Hamilton and I explained it while asking our colleagues to approve taking gender out of what consists of a crime.”

Interesting. And I thought the same thing when Mashburn made his initial comments on the misdemeanor charge. “In this particular case, I felt like this statute more fit what happened because now we don’t have to talk about who the initial aggressor was,” Mashburn said. “Was there gross injury? And there was. And was that against public morals? And I believe that anytime you punch a girl with that much force, even when she had hit you first, that it would be against public morals.”

You can make the legal argument that Mixon used excessive force; making the legal argument that a male hitting a female constitutes that excessive force, well, that’s more difficult. That was written out of Oklahoma law. I think Mashburn spoke out of turn. I think his decision to charge Mixon was somewhat Solomonic. Some wanted a felony, some said Mixon was completely defending himself. Mashburn went with something in between. But making the case that part of Mixon’s crime was the fact that Amelia Molitor is a female? That’s not supported by Oklahoma law, says Mike Fair, retired after 16 years in the legislature.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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