In the most unique elections in some time in Jones County, conspiracy theories have abounded between Sheriff Alex Hodge’s fan club and both the residents of this county and this newspaper. Our 13-month feud over photos of dog food and receipts has exposed some wounds Hodge likely would rather not be exposed.
When supporters get defensive, the natural inclination is to find the entity to blame — the scapegoat. And we have heard them all. The most outlandish, the most ridiculous and the most shameful for any of you who believe it is that this newspaper and Circuit Court Judge Dal Williamson are somehow in cahoots to bring to light failures within the sheriff’s department. Shameful it even needs to be dignified with a response.
Dal Williamson is without question one of the most honest, across-the-board judges any county has seen anywhere. We do not say this because we want to continue to be in cahoots, but because it is the absolute truth. No one should know better than reporters at this newspaper, who spend hours inside the courtroom, a silent witness to justice.
It is permissible for anyone to watch a proceeding. Our motivation is that the vast majority of you cannot just take a day off and sit in court. So we do it for you. We have found Williamson to be a by-the-book judge. He takes his time — sometimes to the internal moans from those in the courtroom — and his research practices are becoming things of modern legend.
In the Senne animal abuse case, Williamson did not find 4th Amendment violations because of a cabal with this newspaper. (Before commenting, read his 28-page report and decide for yourself.) He found many things wrong with the July 2018 raid on the property of an elderly couple, one a Purple Heart recipient with a decorated military career. Again, not because of some conspiracy, but because he follows the law — exactly what every resident should want out of a judge.
Social media blinders can bring out the most ridiculous of notions. The fact that people believe those notions is frightening.
Judge Williamson is going to make the same rulings whether we are there or not. Most likely, we will be there. Because that is what we do. We will report on what happens inside that courtroom — by the book — just like Williamson’s rulings.
We might even say hello during recess. He is a rather pleasant man to talk to.
But, please, do not mistake that for our scheming with the respected jurist.