Slidell High School Dropout Now Successful Prosecutor: AP


He failed more than one class. For his algebra finale, he wrote the lyrics to “Would’t it Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.

LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana – It took a teacher’s encouragement to get Charles Robinson back to school. Calcasieu’s deputy parish prosecutor prosecuted thousands of crimes and organized numerous jury trials – including several homicide cases and one capital case, State v. Kevin Daigle, his first trial there after being transferred from the New Orleans DA’s office. That’s quite a feat for anyone, but especially for a high school dropout.

Incidentally, it was also the words of a teacher that prompted Robinson to quit school.

“I used to be more of a jerk than I am now,” said the tall, lanky 32-year-old with his toothy smile.

Robinson grew up in Slidell and her family moved to Poplarville, Mississippi after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita transformed her from a sleepy little town into something more busy than her mother and stepfather. wanted to call home.

“I was about to get kicked out of school anyway, and it was better for me to make a fresh start,” he admitted. “The first three years of high school, I was suspended a lot.

He failed more than one class. For his algebra finale, he wrote the lyrics to “Would’t it Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.

“The teacher burst out laughing when she started marking the test, and only I was the one who knew why,” he recalls. “She didn’t think it was funny enough to pass me. I thought I was a lot funnier than I actually was. I thought I was hilarious.

Things didn’t improve after she enrolled in Pearl River Central, a high school of about 200 people.

“The first half went well,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone and I kept busy. But once the football season was over, that’s when the knucklehead-ism intensified. “

New friends encouraged him. One semester he had 56 morning detentions and was on the first name basis with the Saturday detention lady. He admitted he appreciated the attention. He drove a convertible with a loud horn. His CB radio was connected to a public address system.

On Career Day, Robinson’s homeroom teacher handed the class three completed career counseling sheets. Robinson was 17 and classified as a junior.

“She told us to go around the career path that we wanted to pursue and we would be put in some courses for that,” he said. “It was supposed to help us figure out what to specialize in. “

The assignment was to be completed in five minutes. Robinson suggested it wasn’t much time to figure out how a person would spend the rest of their life. She responded by announcing to the class about going on a career path – or being a loser like Robinson.

“It was my last day of school,” he says.

With a lot of extra time at his disposal, he picked up a guitar. His grandfather, Buddy Mitchell, taught him to play his first song, “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash.

Her mother was “very vocal” about her need to go to school and have a plan for her life.

“I’m not trying to be like Merle Haggard,” he said, “but mom tried, you know. She begged me to act right but she never gave up on me. I talk to her. every morning on the way to work.

He describes both his parents as loving and his father as more subtle in dealing with Robinson’s behavior.

When Robinson found out that the nearby community college offered a scholarship in music, he got his GED, qualified for a scholarship – the only way he could attend – and enrolled. When it came time to register for another semester, he had doubts. The day before class began, he received a call from the music teacher. She asked him why he was not enrolled in his classes. LaDonna Tyson, director of choral activities, told Robinson that she would see him in class the next day and would not take no for an answer.

“She encouraged me and gave me leadership responsibilities,” said Robinson. “I call her every year to remind her that I probably would have died in a ditch somewhere without her.”

Robinson was a member of the Concert Singers Choir, the River Road Show Choir – dancing wasn’t their strong suit but they needed guys – and The Voices acapella while studying at Pearl River Community College from 2007 to 2010. In 2019 , he made the Hall of Fame of Fine Arts and Communication.

He has performed in bars, had a stint as a dueling pianist, and sang Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition” with then-District Attorney John DeRosier at the office Christmas party with ADA Ross Murray. He chose a state university furthest from his home – the University of Mississippi – to earn his BA in journalism, graduate with honors, and work as an editor for the Daily Mississippian newspaper, where he was. assigned to civil rights. to beat.

“One of the most interesting things about being at Ole Miss wasn’t really what you learned in class, but what happened on this campus in the 60s. I learned a lot as a than anyone when I learned about the cultural history of the South, ”he said.

In no time, he was disillusioned with law school.

“They hammered our heads to be ready to be a lawyer for a small town,” he said.

Robinson didn’t want to handle estates and divorces, defend criminals, or plead banana peel slips. He was looking to make a difference, and if he couldn’t get that with his law degree, well, he’d given up before. He was ready to start over. This time he would do something important, become a member of the Air Force Special Warfare, Para-rescue, specialists who parachute, dive, climb mountains and even train in the Arctic in order to rescue. and to treat downed military personnel. (He had gone so far as to find out that he met the demanding physical demands. Hale is Robinson’s middle name. It matches his health and stamina.)

“During my second year of law school, a federal prosecutor spoke to us and he started his speech with, ‘I have to go to work every day and do the right thing. It caught my attention, ”Robinson said. “I wanted to work where the stakes are a little higher, where I could see that I was helping make people feel safe, and there was no danger of compromising my integrity,” a- he declared.

The country music singer who dropped out of high school and plays guitar with a journalism degree who sang the anthem upon his law school graduation in front of 2,000 people did not grow up dating doctors and lawyers or “big wigs,” he said. He is one of the only people in his family and extended family to attend university. Since arriving in southwest Louisiana, he has met and married the girl of his dreams, Bethany Cahill, and now he lives with purpose, doing what he considers a dream job, bringing justice to families. murder victims.

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