John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

Elderly Couple Stopped, Interrogated for Buckeye

Elderly Couple Stopped, Interrogated for Buckeye

A couple of senior citizens driving through Tennessee were stopped and interrogated for being Ohio State fans: 

Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni, 65, and her husband were driving home to Plano, Texas from Columbus after attending her mother-in-law’s funeral when a pair of black police SUV’s stopped the couple a few miles outside of Memphis.

Apparently, Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni, former president of the Ohio State Alumni Club in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, had an Ohio State Buckeye football decal on her vehicle.  Police mistook it for a marijuana leaf. 

They were very serious,” she said. “They had the body armor and the guns.”

Because the couple’s two schnauzers were barking furiously, one of the officers had Jonas-Boggioni exit the car so he could hear her better.

“What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” he asked her.

She explained that it is actually a Buckeye leaf decal, just like the ones that Ohio State players are given to put on their helmets to mark good plays.

“He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language,” she said.

Here is the problem:  Even if it HAD been a marijuana leaf, having a marijuana leaf on your vehicle isn't a crime nor is it probable cause to stop a motorist.  So not only do these officers not know the difference between a marijuana leaf and an Ohio State Buckeye, they either don't know (or care) about the law they are supposed to be enforcing.  It is perfectly legal to drive around with a big fat marijuana leaf sticker plastered on your car (although such behavior violates one of Steakley's Golden Rules that just because something is legal doesn't make it a good idea). 

But wait, there's more:

Before they let her go on her way, the officers advised Jonas-Boggioni to remove the decal from her car.

“I said, ‘You mean in Tennessee?’ and he said, ‘No, permanently.’

“I didn’t take it off. . . . This little old lady is no drug dealer.”

So Officer Warondrugs thinks his badge and gun give him the right to silence a little old lady's First Amendment rights to support a college football team.

No law enforcement agency wants to claim these boneheads, and Boggioni can't recall what agency they were from.  This would have been a great time to whip out her cell phone and start snapping pictures.

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