Federal drug charges can be more difficult to defend against than those leveled in Tennessee state court. A lot of factors can come into play to complicate a case. Included on that list would be if the defendants being accused of federal drug charges have some level of notoriety or name recognition within a community. While all individuals are supposed to be equal under the law, it can be easier for some people to pass judgment on someone of note before the defendant has had their day in court.
A case out of Paris, Tennessee, could stand as an example of what we mean. According to documents related to the matter, a federal grand jury recently issued an indictment against Mitzi Sheperd, 48, and her son, Joshua Martin, 24. The two Milan residents are accused of alleged conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. They were two of 11 people named in the recent indictment. Sheperd happens to be the wife of former Gibson County Sheriff and Mayor Joe Sheperd.
The mother and son were arrested in Henry County last August by members of the West Tennessee Violent Crime and Drug Task Force, the Paris Police and Henry County Sheriff's Department. Authorities say Martin was already in their crosshairs as a wanted fugitive at the time. It's not clear what for.
The circumstances of their arrest as reported in the media seem somewhat sketchy. According to drug task force officials, the two had been driving in a car between Paris and McKenzie when they ran out of gas. They apparently hitched a ride with a local person to Paris and that's where they were apprehended. When investigators returned to the car, they claim they found a mobile meth lab and finished meth product inside it.
The next court appearance for the two is slated for March 30 in Jackson.
Source: The Paris Post-Intelligencer, "PARIS TN: Former Gibson County sheriff's wife and her son indicted after arrest in Henry County," March 19, 2012