It’s odd being on the other side

Published 1:10 am Saturday, July 14, 2012

I really don’t like to be scooped, so I thought I’d go ahead and out this story today.

I have known for many months that this Monday would come; a day when I would be in a federal courtroom in support of a 36-year friendship.

Because as soon as I knew that former Rep. Terry Spicer might be indicted on charges related to corruption surrounding bingo legislation, I knew that – no matter what – I’d be with him, just as I knew there’d need to be at least three other seats for other lifelong friends near mine.

Terry was, in fact, indicted, and pled guilty to bribery. He accepted cash from a lobbyist for gambling interests, Jarrod Massey, and has owned up to it.

Wrong? Yes. Bribery? That’s a stretch for me. Terry had long been a supporter of gambling when Ronnie Gilley entered the scene with plans to expand gambling to the Wiregrass.

Earlier this week, I found myself in the unfamiliar position of being quoted in a newspaper article. A letter of support I wrote for Terry made it to the hands of a reporter and a sentence or two made the paper.

I’m prepared for my words to be tweeted from the courtroom Monday morning when I am scheduled testify as a character witness for him.

I plan to talk about how loyal he’s been as a friend, how devoted as a father, how effective as a legislator. I can say that he is a man who’s already paid a heavy price for his sins, being ousted from a job a few months shy of retirement; that he’s been talked about on the witness stand, in the newspapers, and on TV, but has maintained stoic silence.

I can say that I believe there is good and bad in each of us, and that in his case, good tips the scale.

But in the end, it won’t matter much what I say, just that I was there to support him. Lord knows he’d do it for me.

I’ve spent lots of days in court, always busy scribbling notes so that I can write a story. Being on the other side feels as awkward as, I don’t know, cheering for Auburn in the Iron Bowl or something.

But life has a funny way of surprising and humbling you.

I never thought the boy who loved racing and joined our class in fifth grade would grow up to be a politician or an educator. I certainly never thought I’d find myself testifying in a case that’s gained this much attention.

But I am flattered and humbled that he trusts me to speak for him. And despite my discomfort on the “other” side of the quotes, there’s nowhere else I’d be come Monday. Nowhere.