Bring Dope Into Angola, And They Make You Take A Personal Leave

In January of 1996, the then-chancellor of LSU’s Law Center, Winston Day, was returning to the United States from a vacation in Amsterdam.

Day had partaken of substances in the Dutch capital which are legal there, but not in the United States. And at the U.S. Customs terminal in the Atlanta airport, Day realized that a bag containing 1.3 ounces of marijuana he had bought in Amsterdam was still in the pocket of a jacket he’d packed in his suitcase. Drug-sniffing dogs turned up the bag, and Day’s life changed.

The affair hit the media, and Day was forced out of his job as LSU Law School’s chancellor. He’s still there as a professor.

So when public defender Nelvil Hollingsworth was caught over the weekend bringing 5.2 grams of marijuana into Angola State Penitentiary, you might expect the same treatment – or maybe worse.

Hollingsworth’s transgression may have been a dopey mistake on his part or perhaps something a bit more substantial, since Hollingsworth was scheduled to meet with convicted murderer Barry Edge, who is accused of killing a prison guard at Angola. It’s been suggested that the weed in question was supposed to go to Edge, though it’s also been suggested that Hollingsworth had it in his jacket pocket and it made its way into the lining of the jacket via a hole in that pocket.

Either way, bringing dope into a prison would seem to be a bit more outrageous than into an airport from Amsterdam. But the standard for being a public defender is a lot less than that required by LSU’s law school. Because Hollingsworth wasn’t even suspended.

An East Baton Rouge Parish public defender arrested over the weekend for allegedly trying to smuggle marijuana into the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola “has taken some personal leave on his own,” his boss said Monday.

Mike Mitchell, the parish’s chief public defender, said Nelvil Hollingsworth, 62, has not been suspended.

“I am carefully reviewing the allegations and will look at all the facts … and will make an appropriate decision at the appropriate time. That is not today,” Mitchell stressed.

“I am not going to act hastily,” he added. “I just need to get more information on what happened.”

Nothing’s going to happen to Hollingsworth – at least not where his job is concerned. That’s our prediction, but we’re pretty comfortable with it. Hollingsworth is still the attorney of record in a bunch of big cases – including that of Richard Matthews, the disgruntled ex-employee of Grady Crawford Construction Company who blew away two female employees of that firm in December 2009, has confessed to the crime and says he’s willing to die as punishment.

But Hollingsworth has Matthews pleading not guilty anyway.

Maybe it was his dope after all. Could be Hollingsworth and Day got caught with weed in exactly the same circumstances.

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