Petition asks for ban on sale of alcohol to 10 habitual inebriates in Winchester
By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- City authorities want the "town drunks" to dry up.
A judge could help prosecutors do just that.
Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Derek Aston filed petitions in Winchester Circuit Court this week for orders of interdiction prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to nearly a dozen people deemed "habitual drunkards." State code allows a court to make it illegal for anyone to sell alcohol to a person "interdicted."
These people -- 10 so far -- went to the Division of Court Services' Starting Point Public Inebriate Center on South Cameron Street for being drunk in public a total of 400 times in the past two years.
Commonwealth's Attorney Alex Iden said Thursday he sought the orders not only to fight the issue of habitual drunkards but also "to minimize the public funds that are expended on them."
Petitions name the following people as "habitual drunkards," the number of visits to the center for being drunk in public and list previous convictions:
* Terry Shimp, of 312 Cedarmeade Ave., Winchester, went 98 times between May 2008 and July this year.
* John C. Cooper III, of 126 Old Dominion Road, Winchester, 72 times from June 2008 to June this year.
* Harry Peacemaker, of 17 E. Germain St., Winchester, 59 times between February and June this year.
* Michael K. Johnson, address unknown, 41 times from March 2008 to August this year.
* James B. Stuart, of 435 N. Cameron St., Winchester, 40 times from September 2008 to early July.
* Steven Ray Mason, of 143 Lee Ave., Winchester, 23 times between January 2008 and June of this year.
* David Lee Trump, of 7601 Main St., Middletown, 21 times between October 2007 and August 2009.
* Michael Scott Cunningham, of 203 Muse Drive, Winchester, 17 times between November 2008 to August.
* Ralph D. Campbell, of 435 N. Cameron St., Winchester, 15 times from April to June of this year.
* John Wesley Hardy, of 337 N. Loudoun St., Winchester, 14 times between September 2006 and February 2009.
The petitions against each of the 10 people are scheduled to be heard by a judge Oct. 22, according to the court files.
"This is not an automatic thing just because I said so," Iden said. "There's a hearing in front of a judge."
What makes a habitual drunkard remains vague. Iden said his office has chosen to use a person's number of visits to detox and their criminal record, particularly any offenses with connection to alcohol or drug use, as factors.
Some of those listed had previous convictions for trespassing, drug offenses, assaults, shoplifting and larcenies -- all of which Iden says have a connection to alcohol and drug use.
"There's no major formula to it and ... I continue to have the civil liberties concern so that I don't want to infringe on people's rights, but when it comes a point, a sort of tipping point where the exercise of their rights so grossly infringed on the purse of the community, we gotta do something about that."
The prosecutor deferred to the Winchester Police Department as to how the agency would inform convenience stores of any interdicted individuals and the fact it would be a crime to sell alcohol to them.
"Certainly this is an opportunity for them to say 'Sorry bud, you're on the list,'" Iden said.