John Sawyer, homeless man, guilty of drinking beer in public - for medicinal reasons

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. -- Looking a little more like Ernest Hemingway than Santa Claus, a 62-year-old man with an almost as recognizable name pleaded guilty Wednesday to drinking alcohol in public and was released from the Broward County Main Jail.

John Sawyer blurted out his guilty plea before Broward Judge John Hurley could ask him.

"You don't even know what you've been charged with, John," the judge said.

Sawyer, listed as homeless, explained he tried to write the Clerk of the Court to have his case postponed because of his bad back and sore legs.

"I can hardly stand now," Sawyer said.

That sounded familiar to Hurley.

"The last time I heard that we made the news, you know what I mean?" the judge said.

Hurley was referring to a July 13 hearing for Carl Funk, 58, who sat through his court appearance because of his disabilities and then appeared to promptly get up and walk away after the judge set bond at a discounted $50.

Courtroom observers burst into laughter as the judge, caught off guard, proclaimed, "He's been cured!"

Sawyer's case was a little different. He explained he was treating his ailments by drinking beer.

"The only reason I do it is because of my back," he said. "And my legs."

"You drink beer because of your back?" Hurley asked. "And your legs?"

"They won't give me no pain medicine at the hospital," Sawyer clarified. "That's the truth, sir."

"That's a good one, I mean, that's reasonable," Hurley said.

The judge accepted the guilty plea on four counts of violating the open container law and withheld adjudication.

Hurley wished Sawyer luck and hoped his back got better.

"God bless you," Sawyer said.

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