Friday, March 26, 2010

"Old Five and Dimer" Billy Joe Shaver In Court

His attorney Dick DeGuerin vows to take his case to trial

Bright and early Friday morning famed Houston attorney Dick
DeGuerin and his client Billy Joe Shaver were sitting in
spectator seats of the 54th District Court.

They were there to answer a docket call for a pre-trial
hearing before State District Judge Matt Johnson.

Mr. Shaver is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and
carrying a firearm on premises licensed to sell alcoholic

The charges stem from a shooting on March 31, 2007, at a
Lorena road house where he got into a dispute with another
patron regarding his wife's honor. Witnesses said he asked
the man "Where do you want it?" before he fired a bullet
that passed through his cheek and exited without hitting

At the age of 71, Mr. Shaver is facing a possible prison
term of 10 years. He is the author of such hit country tunes
as "I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal" and "Fast Train To
Georgia," "Old Five And Dimers Like Me" and many others.
His work has been covered by such luminaries as Bob Dylan,
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Bobby Bare,
for whom he wrote under a contract between the two of them
for a number of years in the early days of his career. He
is from Corsicana and lives in Waco.

When the prosecutor came in and set his books and trial
brief on the table, Mr. DeGuerin spoke up, calling him by
name, and said, "Now, as soon as we get out of here, I'm
going to want to see the evidence in this case."

The much younger man looked around him and then peered
through his large reading glasses; under dilated nostrils
and the sardonic smile of one who knows his footing very
well, he said, "Fine. We have it."

Earlier, Mr. DeGuerin had left pleadings on his table and
placed copies on the Court Coordinator's desk in the corner
of the courtroom for insertion into the file.

He and Mr. Shaver, who was dressed in his signature denim,
sporting a fawn-colored brown Beaver hat with a high-crowned
bull rider's crease and a five-inch brim and a jean jacket
embroidered with "Texas Country Music Hall of Fame," had
earlier schmoozed with the Court Coordinator, members of the
bar others making appearances in court. They discussed the
weather on Mr. DeGuerin's drive up from the Bayou City, the
patchy ground fog in the Brazos Valley and the fact that he
saw the sun rise.

"Any day you see the sun rise is a good day," said Mr.

He is famous for defending many people accused of very
heinous offenses and obtaining acquittals for them. He was
an associate of famed Houston murder trial lawyer Percy

He obtained an acquittal for Mohammed Muneer Deeb, who was
convicted and sentenced to death for the mistaken identity
murder-for-hire killings of three teenaged youths at Lake
Waco. Mr. Deeb obtained a reversal because of the extensive
admittance under strenuous objection of hearsay testimony in
his original trial. From death row, he obtained a new trial
through an appeal he prepared himself before the Court of
Criminal Appeals.

Mr. DeGuerin obtained an acquittal, arguing the case put on
by a special prosecutor in a Ft. Worth state district court.
He had earlier obtained change of venue motion he argued
before the court of original jurisdiction at Cleburne,
where it was tried on a change of venue motion from Waco,
granted due to extensive pre-trial publicity.

The talk turned to various songs of Mr. Shaver's used in
movies produced and directed by Robert Duvall, a star of
"Lonesome Dove" whose work stretches back over many decades
in such films as "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Tender Mercies,"
"The Godfather" and "Bullit."

Asked by an acquaintance, a fellow member of the defense
bar, as to his plans, Mr. DeGuerin said, "We're going to
take this to trial."

The case is set for April 5 at 9 a.m.

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