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Judge Rejects Willie Nelson’s $780 Plea Deal on Pot Bust

Photo by Andy Uhler for KUT

A West Texas judge says she will not accept a plea deal between the Hudspeth County prosecutor and Willie Nelson’s lawyers because she says it’s not harsh enough. The deal would have required Nelson to pay a $500 fine and $280 in court fees for possessing marijuana.

Judge Becky Dean-Walker told the New York Times that county attorney Kit Bramblett let Nelson off easy because Bramblett is a huge fan.

“He’s supposed to file the charge he feels is appropriate,” Judge Dean-Walker said of Mr. Bramblett in a telephone interview. “Not what he feels he should do for his favorite singer. It is up to the judge to agree or not.”

Bramblett jokingly suggested in March that Nelson could resolve the charges by singing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court.

Nelson, 78, was arrested November 26 at a border crossing in in Sierra Blanca, Texas after a Border Patrol agent smelled marijuana coming from Nelson’s tour bus. A subsequent search allegedly discovered about three ounces of pot.

Meanwhile, Willie Nelson has not slowed down on his advocacy for changing marijuana laws. The singer appears in a new web commercial for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. NORML has turned its focus on Texas Congressman Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), who has threatened to kill a federal bill that would remove pot from a list of controlled substances.

KUT’s music journalism unit Texas Music Matters produced an award-winning 2009 documentary about Willie Nelson. You can listen to it with this audio player, or right click it to download.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.