Prosecution

RSS Feed for this category

Is It Bad Cop vs. Bad Cop, or Bad Cop vs. Good Cop?

Jeralyn Merritt linked in TalkLeft today to a Chicago Tribune article covering what sounds like a fairly spectacular police corruption trial. A police ring allegedly engaged in armed robbery of drug dealers, and as part of that engaging in home invasions, falsifying police reports and lying to judges and juries. The prosecutors, not surprisingly, have gotten one cop -- Corey Flagg, who has pleaded guilty -- to testify against another -- Eural Black, who took it to trial -- in order to get a "deal," e.g., a lighter sentence. And Merritt aptly points out that in such a circumstance -- a known criminal providing testimony, in exchange for the compensation of spending less time in prison -- it's really hard to know whom to believe. There is incredibly strong incentive for the guy making the deal to say anything that will get him off more easily, and by definition the guy making the deal is someone we believe to be a criminal in the true sense of the word. Should such a person's testimony really be the basis for handing out hard-time in prison? Defense are pointing this out, and Merritt asks what the jury is likely to make of it:
What does a jury glean from all this? That all the cops were dirty, or that one cop who got caught is trying to save himself by selling out a clean cop who worked with him?... Does a dirty cop really sell out a clean cop? Or does he, caught in the headlights, just spread the blame to others as dirty as him, in hopes of a shorter sentence?
This sort of deal is made all the time, of course, on countless routine cases. I consider it to be a fundamental corruption of the administration of justice -- it is just too obviously true that one cannot trust testimony given under such a circumstance. The older type of practice is that deals would be offered to informants who provide useful information that investigators can use to then find actual evidence. Instead, drug war prosecutors, with the complicity of judges, have shed their morality and instead use the informants' mere testimony. Hmm, maybe that's one of the reasons some people don't like snitching.
Location: 
Chicago, IL
United States

One of the Worst Drug Warriors Makes It Back, Under Mysterious Circumstances

Jeralyn Merritt pointed out on TalkLeft tonight that Jay Apperson -- an infamous drug warrior who was fired from his job working for now-former hard-line Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for an inappropriate intervention attempt in a federal drug case -- is back and that his name has come up in a Washington Post article as a hiree for whom DOJ officials bypassed the usual process. It's not clear whether the irregular hiring is part of the larger US Attorneys affair. Read more about this heartless, awful man and his dark works in our 2005 Chronicle report on the aforementioned Sensenbrenner incident.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Hurwitz Family: The Jury Verdict on Dr. Hurwitz

I did not notice this open letter from Dr. Hurwitz's brother when it came out late last month, but I think it is worth a read.
Location: 
United States

Letter from Virginia Resner (President of Green Aid) about Ed Rosenthal: Count Down to Trial

Dear Friends: At the last two hearings, on April 13 and 20, Judge Breyer urged the prosecutor to drop Ed Rosenthal's case. The judge was trying to prevent the feds from marching straight ahead into a quagmire, just like in Iraq. Using the same wisdom they have shown on other issues, they decided to forge ahead. Trial begins in two weeks. We need to raise $100,000. We are asking for your help because Ed's case will change marijuana policy for all of us. This is a totally political case: what's on trial is the future of medical marijuana. The court has already agreed that Ed cannot receive any more time, since he has already served his sentence. Federal prosecutors are hoping to use this trial to close all the dispensaries in California. If Ed wins acquittal, it can change their misguided policies. We need your help right now to send a message to Washington. Ed is being defended by a dynamic team of attorneys mentored by Tony Serra, who share his disdain for these cruel and unjust policies. Even though they are working at a reduced rate, funds are still needed for courtroom transcripts, expert witnesses, investigators and all the other resources necessary to explain the whole truth to the jury. The publicity campaign is also expensive but necessary to educate the media and the public about what's really at stake. Ed's case has already backfired on the government. During the first trial, public interest in medicinal marijuana skyrocketed. The media was extremely favorable and supportive. It was a huge victory for patients, providers, and the drug policy reform movement. Keith Stroup, founder of NORML said, "The world changes when people like Ed Rosenthal stand up and fight back." Why? Because this is not a criminal case, it's a political one. Ed's already served his sentence. With this in mind, the trial is a farce similar to that of the Chicago Seven or the Scopes Monkey Trial. The Chicago Seven changed how people viewed Vietnam-era protestors. The Scopes Monkey Trial changed how people viewed the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution, in a courtroom battle that pitted science against myth and superstition. That's exactly what we want to accomplish when Ed goes to court May 14 -- show that the government's position on medical marijuana not only lacks any medical or scientific credibility, it hurts people. This trial will convince more people that the government is spending billions of dollars to maintain a policy that is out-of-touch, cruel and has no rational basis. At the same time we are protecting the democratic process in the 12 states that have made the compassionate decision to allow medical marijuana. We've all wanted to change the laws for a long time. By making a generous contribution to Green Aid today, your funds will go directly to this upcoming trial. Raise some funds for Ed, and he'll make sure the public takes notice. Make a donation now at http://www.green-aid.com or you can send a check to Postal Mail Box #172, 484 Lake Park Ave., Oakland, CA 94610 We need contributions small and large. All are appreciated. If you can afford them consider these award levels. Guardian: $1000 "One Percenter": $3000 (this is 1% of the total cost of the trial of $300,000) Hero: $5000 or more. Thank you for your continuing support. We can't win without you! Don't think of it as helping just Ed. He's is on the front line to help all of us. Help him help you. Sincerely, Virginia Resner President of Green Aid "Most people would have backed down, but not Ed. He's in this to the end. We owe him for that." -- Jack Herer "Ed's not a flight risk. He's in this case till the bitter end." -- Magistrate Chin: "Most people considering their circumstances for one reason or another are forced to give in under the weight of government pressure. I have the privilege and opportunity to be able to stand for all the people who've been harassed and hounded by the government." -- Ed Rosenthal
Location: 
United States

Analysis of Hurwitz Verdicts Online...

... in Alex DeLuca's War on Doctors / Pain Crisis blog. In case anyone was wondering, I disagree with the guilty verdicts. But based on what I've read so far, I can't be too harsh on the jurors this time. The following is an uncomfortable thought to have to state: It's not clear to me that a jury is a competent body for reliably evaluating the extremely complex facts at work in medical care, especially when it intersects with criminal law and the "drug war." This case, and dozens more like it, should never have been brought in a criminal venue. A prominent civil liberties attorney told me a couple of years ago he is working on a book about the unwarranted extension of federal power into civil matters where they have no business, including pain control -- I think I will check back with him to see how it is coming along. The main point is, whatever one thinks of Hurwitz's decisions in this matter, having them reviewed by juries in criminal cases brought by federal prosecutors seeking hard time is an absolutely disastrous scenario for pain patients. The under-treatment of chronic pain is a quiet but widespread tragedy afflicting our country today. Prosecutors deserve the lion's share of the blame -- that profession is desperately need of some housecleaning if any is. Click here -- an article posted in a newsletter we published in DRCNet's early days -- for some history from the first chapter of the Hurwitz saga.
Location: 
United States

Mixed Result in Hurwitz Case

See NYT's John Tierney's initial post-Hurwitz trial blog post. Not the result we were hoping for by any means. On the other hand, the last time was far worse, and according to eyewitness accounts the prosecutors seemed really disappointed too. Judge Brinkema has the power to give a much less draconian sentence or even time served, and her handling of the case seemed pretty reasonable; we'll find out in July what she decides.
Location: 
United States

Butte's medical marijuana growing and distribution policy is challenged

Location: 
CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Oroville Mercury-Register (CA)
URL: 
http://www.orovillemr.com/news/ci_5761505

Pain Medicine: Judge Dismisses Most Serious Charges in Hurwitz Retrial

The judge presiding over the retrial of prominent Northern Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz has dismissed the most serious charges against him. On Wednesday, as the defense rested in the month-long retrial, Judge Leonie Brinkema granted a defense request to dismiss charges of causing bodily injury or death. Hurwitz still faces dozens of drug trafficking counts linked to his pain management medical practice.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hurwitz.jpg
Dr. Hurwitz in 1996
Hurwitz was originally convicted in November 2004 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He has been there ever since, even though the original verdict was overturned on appeal. While he could still face substantial prison time if found guilty again, he will not face the 20-year mandatory minimum sentence that the charge of causing bodily injury or death carries.

In dismissing the charges, Brinkema agreed with two arguments advanced by the defense. First was that prosecutors had not proven the pain relievers prescribed by Hurwitz caused death or injury. Second was that the US Supreme Court in its decision upholding Oregon's right to die law last year ruled that federal drug laws did not give the Justice Department the power "to define general standards of medical practice."

That is precisely what federal prosecutors have done in dozens of cases like Hurwitz's. Prosecutors repeatedly -- and often successfully -- argued that doctors prescribing high dose of opioid pain relievers were outside the bounds of "accepted medical practice," and thus drug dealers, not doctors.

Now it will be more difficult for prosecutors to win a new conviction against Hurwitz. They must show that he knew the drugs he prescribed would be resold or abused and prescribed them anyway. Hurwitz has steadfastly denied that. Now prosecutors will have to prove that his problem patients were so obviously drug addicts and dealers that he had to have known his prescriptions were being diverted.

Judge Dismisses the Most Serious Charges Against Dr. Hurwitz

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
New York Times (blogs)
URL: 
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/19/judge-dismisses-the-most-serious-charges-against-dr-hurwitz/

Employers grapple with medical marijuana use

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
USA Today
URL: 
http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2007-04-16-medical-marijuana-usat_N.htm

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School