“Not a troublesome individual”

30 years ago today a handful of armed FBI agents arrived at a cabin door in Indiana.

“Are you John Steven Fawley?”

“Would it make any fucking difference if i said ‘No’, officer?” asked Coyote in a most respectful tone.

“Absolutely none, Mr. Fawley”

“Then please come in officers, mi casa su casa” Coyote offered with a wave of his arm in greeting.

Inside they found 1254 marijuana plants growing.

leave no trace

On January 21, 1983 Coyote had is day in court and this is what he said.

“I would like to begin by telling the Court that i am not a troublesome individual.  If my life has been not exemplary, certainly it has been praiseworthy.  I think a cursory examination of my skills as a teacher, many of which i think are evidenced in the probationary report.

I have been a teacher for most of my professional life.  I am a good teacher.  I enjoy my work.

As a matter of fact, in Vermillion County and Champaign County last year of the students that i prepared to take the GED test for high school, 61 of the students under my tutelage managed to pass that examination.  The previous record for students graduating for a single teacher was 27.  I am a good teacher, i enjoy my work.

My involvement in this case, the reason that i am here was because of a very silly decision.  Because of a decision that was motivated almost entirely because i needed money.  i saw this as what i thought to be an easy and relatively safe way of making some money.  An offer was made to me by Mr. Calhoun to assist him in this project of growing marijuana.  i think he approached me for two reasons.  One we have a friendship that goes back to when he was an undergraduate, i was a graduate.  He was a fellow student at DePauw University.  The second reason is that i live rural; i have a small cabin where i believe out on the Salt Fork River  in Vermillion County.  I garden, and i think that’s why he approached me.

I was not in any way coerced by John Calhoun.  I am a strong individual.  I made the decision of my own free will. I thought  about it.  i would never make the decision again, but life being what it is i can’t go back and undo what i have done, but i assure you it’s not going to happen again.

pot plants being cultivated

The reason that i needed the money, your Honor, has to do with changing professions.  Oddly enough, i find myself being somewhat squeezed out of the teaching profession by virtue of the fact my degrees are not in teaching, but in literature.  i was the first graduate student in American lit from DePauw, taught with those credentials, got a bachelor and master’s but not a teaching certificate as such.  And as credentials becoming more important these days,  i dont have the credentials to keep doing what i enjoy doing.  And i was in the process of changing professions.  I wanted to become a nurse and i finally found a university in Burlington, Vermont.  I have already made application.  I may be able to teach nursing; i dont know.

i accepted Mr. Calhoun’s offer to join the illegal endeavor because i needed the money to make that move.  To make that change in my life.  To go into a four year program to receive a baccalaureate degree in nursing and an additional year of two to become a nurse practitioner.

i think that the probationary report will bear out, i have an affinity for dealing with services to people who, at least as i see it, are least served by society.  i hope in some way, some point in my life, to be able to use my skills again.  i am determined to do it, your Honor.  i have in fact recently taken a trip to Vermont — and i’d like to thank you for allowing me to do that — in which i interviewed at the School of Nursing.  I even talked to the Federal probation people in Burlington Vermont, to point out that i intended to move, and i wanted them to understand my situation before i arrived.

i regret the decision that made it necessary for me to be here today.  It’s never going to happen again.”

Coyote was convicted but served no time.

i want the dreams this room induces