Much like a zoo exhibit that hasn't been cleaned in a while, the Tiger mess is starting to stink.
Television's late-night comics may be laughing it up. But here at home, the latest developments are raising serious questions about whether the superstar golfer got super-special treatment.
The key piece of evidence is a previously unreleased public record that shows local troopers wanted to check Tiger Woods' blood-alcohol level — but were blocked.
Not by Woods' attorney, but by the state attorney.
The same state attorney whose office has a history of taking it easy on the well-heeled and influential in this town.
And that's why we need more answers — and total disclosure.
Until now, you see, I didn't really care much about Tiger's fall from grace.
I figured if the guy was trying to get his pancakes with a side order of waitress, that was between him, his conscience and his family. His love life was no more relevant to my life than his last U.S. Open victory.
But now this case is raising questions about whether justice in this community is truly blind — or maybe peeking out from beneath her blindfold to see who's in trouble before rendering a verdict.
The latest shows that State Attorney Lawson Lamar's office wasn't convinced there was enough evidence to suggest Woods might have been drinking before he crashed his car into a tree … and a fire hydrant … and ran over a curb … and clipped a hedge … after drinking earlier in the day, according to a witness.
Take a moment here to decide for yourself whether you think law enforcement would give you the same benefit of the doubt.
We've seen similar benefits given to certain people before.
Remember the Winter Park surgeon who tried to hire a hit man?
Dr. David Mackey was actually caught on tape trying to hire someone for a murder. The case seemed like a slam dunk — until Lamar's office decided it simply wasn't fair to request prison time for "a person of Dr. Mackey's stature."
The only thing more shocking than the office's decision was that it actually admitted its rationale.
We've also seen politicians and public officials get kid-glove treatment.
Meanwhile, the stature-less among us haven't fared so well.
Once, Lamar's office tried to get a life sentence for $20 burglary committed by a repeat offender. Another time, it pursued racketeering charges for a 75-year-old grandmother accused of selling porn tapes from her general store.
In some of those cases, Lamar's office went back and did the right thing — agreeing, for instance, to a more reasonable sentence for the $20 burglar whose case was championed by everyone from his chaplain to the judge who sentenced him.
Hindsight and perspective serve Lamar well in that case. And it would well serve the agencies involved in Woods' current ordeal, too.
Because one thing that's clear so far is that his case was not handled like everyone else's.
For starters, the trooper didn't request the blood test until three days after the crash.
And veteran DUI attorneys — such as Dennis Salvagio, who has been handling those cases for more than 30 years — said the delay raises big questions about whether there was ever any legitimate reason to suspect drunken driving.
In the majority of cases, tests are immediately administered or ordered on the scene when officers are in the best position to establish probable cause.
Plus, it's hard to Monday-morning quarterback the Woods case — which involved three different law-enforcement agencies on the scene and even more in the ensuing days — when we don't know all the facts.
Therein lies the problem: Why don't we?
If you wrecked your car and you were charged with a DUI after your wife pulled you out and told cops you had been drinking, there would be a procedural order and paper trail of everything that went down.
And yet in Woods' case, we have incomplete details about the scene and generic references to an unidentified "witness" who said Woods had consumed alcohol "earlier in the day" — not to mention the delayed blood requests and denied subpoenas. Tiger also simply refused to talk to authorities.
It already sounds like things were handled differently.
Maybe Lamar's office was actually handed such a mess of a case that it had no choice. Maybe it was like a bad episode of Keystone Kops with Windermere police officers, Isleworth security guards, Orange County deputies and Florida Highway Patrol troopers all responding together to this single-car accident.
Whatever went down, it all needs to be laid out — just like it would be for anyone else … regardless of their stature.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at 407-420-6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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