Roger A. Glasgow, deputy attorney general and a young politician who had lost a race for prosecuting attorney in Pulaski and Perry counties, was arrested on August 25, 1972, at the United States border at Matamoros, Mexico, as he and his wife were returning from a vacation in Mexico. He was charged with smuggling marijuana into the United States, but the government’s case against Glasgow fell apart at the trial amid insinuations that he had been set up by political foes in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and he was acquitted. The account of Glasgow’s arrest, trial, and aftermath became the dominant news story of the year. The notoriety ended his political aspirations at the age of thirty, although he had a long career at the law firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings. The Glasgow Affair stirred reform in the Democratic Party and Little Rock municipal government. Allegations that top officials in the Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) were involved in setting up Glasgow at the border were followed by two lawsuits alleging corruption and malfeasance in the agency (Phillips, et al. v. Weeks, et al.). The LRPD chief and the top lieutenants who were involved in the Glasgow Affair had been replaced by 1977.
Glasgow was one of eight children of a Howard County farm couple. After graduating from college and obtaining a law degree, he practiced law briefly in Nashville (Howard County), served as an elected delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1969–70, and became deputy attorney general under Attorney General Ray H. Thornton Jr. in 1971. When Thornton ran for Congress, successfully, in 1972, Glasgow and another lawyer in Thornton’s office, Lee A. Munson, ran for prosecuting attorney. (The vacancy arose because Prosecuting Attorney Jim Guy Tucker was elected attorney general that year; he later served in Congress and was lieutenant governor and governor in the 1990s.) Two other candidates for prosecutor were eliminated in the Democratic Party preferential primary in May, and Munson defeated Glasgow in the runoff in June. Glasgow had charged in the campaign that Munson was controlled by Little Rock mayor George E. Wimberly and a coterie of police officials whom he insinuated were corrupt.
After the primaries, Glasgow was offered a job at Edward L. Wright’s law firm. He gave notice of leaving the Attorney General’s Office, and he and his wife drove to Mexico for a quick vacation before Glasgow was set to begin work at the law firm. The couple spent the last two days of their vacation at a Holiday Inn in Matamoros. When their car reached the border on their return, an agent directed Glasgow to pull to the side while agents searched the car. They found twenty-four pounds of marijuana wrapped in newspapers beneath the rear seat. Border agents along with Brownsville, Texas, police and the prosecutor refused his repeated requests for him and his wife to take lie-detector tests.
The big break in the case was the offer of testimony from John Patterson, a Little Rock cab driver and police informant who said that, after a party at a Little Rock home shortly after Glasgow’s arrest, Munson helped an inebriated investment banker into Patterson’s cab. The banker bragged to the driver that he and Munson had “fixed up old Glasgow” at the border. Patterson was subpoenaed to testify but was not called as a witness.
At Glasgow’s trial at Brownsville in October, Wright testified for Glasgow as a character witness, along with the Arkansas attorney general, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele of Little Rock; Circuit Judge Bobby Steel of Nashville; and Glasgow’s hometown minister. The head of the Little Rock vice squad, who was subpoenaed to testify, and two other detectives attended the trial. Two employees of the Matamoros Holiday Inn gave detailed but sharply conflicting testimony about Glasgow and his wife being drunk at the motel bar and being helped to their room the evening before Glasgow’s arrest. Glasgow and his wife disputed it. A time-marked tourist photo of the Glasgows at another restaurant and a parking ticket that evening proved that the two men were not telling the truth. The jury found Glasgow not guilty.
Over forty years later, Glasgow wrote a book recounting his ordeal and making a case that the man who beat him in the prosecutor’s race—along with police officials, Little Rock’s mayor, and an investment banker—conspired to have the marijuana planted in his car at the Matamoros Holiday Inn and then alerted border agents. Butler Center Books published Glasgow’s book about the incident, Down and Dirty Down South: Politics and the Art of Revenge, in 2016. In the book, Glasgow recounted several subsequent encounters with Jim T. Hunter, the Little Rock investment banker whom he said was involved in arranging the marijuana set-up. Hunter was apologetic. On his deathbed, according to Glasgow, the banker said he would like to explain what happened in 1972 but that innocent people would be hurt.
For additional information:
Fields, Arlin. “Familiar Faces at Glasgow Trial: LR Policemen, Cab Driver There, But Why?” Arkansas Democrat, October 20, 1972, pp. 1A, 2A.
Glasgow, Roger. Down and Dirty Down South: Politics and the Art of Revenge. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2016.
Steinmetz, Tucker. “Glasgow Found Not Guilty.” Arkansas Gazette, October 18, 1972, p. 1A.
“Triumph and Travesty in the Glasgow Case.” Arkansas Gazette, October 19, 1972, p. 6A.
Little Rock, Arkansas
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