JACKSON, MICHIGAN — Jackson County Sheriff candidate Lance Laird will spend the Aug. 7 primary behind bars.
District Judge R. Darryl Mazur sent Laird, 36, to jail for 57 days after testing positive for cocaine while on probation. Laird claimed someone spiked his stuff with something causing the positive test.
“Mr. Laird, I’m not sure whether you’re going to make this election for sheriff or not,” Mazur said before imposing a sentence in the matter. “Candidly, I doubt it.”
Laird, on probation for a domestic violence charge to which he pleaded no contest in March 2011, tested positive for cocaine when tested on June 16, according to information presented in court. The 57-day sentence is the remainder of Laird’s 93-day maximum sentence for the domestic violence charge. Laird already spent 36 days in jail for the original charge and other violations.
During his violation hearing Tuesday, Laird accused Tammy Sanders, the woman he allegedly assaulted, of putting something in his stuff to create the positive test. Laird attempted to play a recording of Sanders admitting to “putting stuff in my things,” he said. The audio could not be heard by Mazur or anyone else in the courtroom.
Mazur asked Laird what the essence of the recording was, and Laird replied, “She said, yeah, I put stuff in your shit.”
Laird never used the words cocaine or drugs in his allegations against Sanders. Sanders was not in court to testify. Laird said she lies and would not be a credible witness. Mazur said it would have been more credible had Sanders come in to testify Tuesday. Laird’s attorney was also not present. Laird said she had another hearing.
Kris Putman, Laird’s probation officer, said Laird did not show up for tests on June 12 and June 13. Putman called Laird and told him to go test. Laird told Putman he was frustrated with the system. Laird did not provide enough urine on June 15. On June 16, his test was positive for cocaine. Laird requested the sample be sent away for verification. The verification came back positive as well.
Laird claims the initial domestic violence charge was based on lies and made against him because of an on-going custody dispute with Sanders. Photographs taken after the assault show Sanders with a cut lip and a bloody nose. Police reports provided by Laird show that Sanders had reported Laird hit her twice before. She had no marks, and police could not verify that an assault occurred in each. After the third report, when Sanders went to the Jackson Police Department with a bloodied face, Laird was arrested.
He pleaded no contest to avoid spending more time in jail awaiting a trial, he said in previous conversations.
Laird’s stint in jail will his 15th, according to jail records. Charges against Laird in previous, unrelated matters, were dismissed, court records show. A jury convicted him of operating while impaired in 2008. He was found guilty of assault and battery in 1994. Laird has been convicted of traffic infractions and having a dog at large, according to court records. There have been eight civil actions filed against him.
He contends the county justice system is corrupt and has fought his probation and previous charges.
Laird has said as sheriff he would throw in jail prosecutors and judges who violate people’s rights and use plea deals as instruments of coercion. He believes the county’s criminal justice system is overrun with corruption.
“What would you do if you were sheriff?” Mazur asked.
“I don’t think that’s proper for the court,” Laird responded. “I’m not here for my political agenda.”
“I’m curious,” Mazur said.
“Maybe you should ask me outside of court,” Laird responded.
At the close of the hearing, Mazur said, “If you’re elected sheriff, go ahead hold us all accountable.”
Laird was placed in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom.