Prosecution

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A New Activist's Tactic Emerges in the Rosenthal Trial

One of the feature stories I'm working on this week is the Ed Rosenthal re-trial on federal marijuana production and distribution charges, which ended yesterday with a split verdict. The trial was a complete waste of time since even if Rosenthal was found guilty, he could not be sentenced to anything more than the one day he had already served, but federal prosecutors were vindictively determined to get their man. Rosenthal's supporters were equally determined not to help the government, and that's where the new tactic emerged: A dozen people in the medical marijuana movement who had been subpoenaed to testify against Rosenthal simply refused. A civil contempt citation is the usual response to such refusals, but as the judge in the case noted, the contempt citation is designed to impel people to testify, not to punish the. When the judge asked if throwing them in jail for the weekend would change their minds, they all said no. Since they convinced the judge they were rock solid in their positions, he decided not to issue the citations and instead dismissed them. He also thanked them for the dignity they displayed in articulating their positions. We should all thank them for taking this courageous stand. Who knows? Maybe we can start a movement. Look for a feature story on the trial and the witness rebellion tomorrow.
Location: 
United States

OUR VIEW: Corruption exacts its toll in public funds and confidence

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Standard-Times (MA)
URL: 
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070520/OPINION/705200318

Three-month drugs trial takes its toll

Location: 
Auckland
New Zealand
Publication/Source: 
Stuff (New Zealand)
URL: 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4062954a12855.html

Ganja Guru retrial begins

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
AXcess News (KY)
URL: 
http://www.axcessnews.com/index.php/articles/show/id/11002

Initial Hurwitz Prosecutor Resigns from DOJ #2 Post

good riddance to Paul McNulty!!!!! One of the big news stories today was the resignation of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty as part of the US Attorneys firings scandal. I commented on the possibility of a McNulty firing on March 20th here in the Speakeasy, pointing out his history as the prosecutor who initiated charges against pain physician Dr. William Hurwitz, got the DEA's pain FAQ pulled to influence the trial, as well as his role in getting parole abolished in the state of Virginia. McNulty was present last month when the new Hurwitz verdicts -- more limited than the original, though still negative -- were read. Good riddance to Paul McNulty. May this mark an end to his evil works once and for all.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

In the opium capital of the world, very late lessons in drug enforcement

Location: 
Kabul
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
International Herald Tribune (France)
URL: 
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/15/asia/opium.php

Opening statements set for today in the retrial of marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
KSBY 6 (CA)
URL: 
http://www.ksby.com/Global/story.asp?S=6516392

Pain Update -- Dr. Maynard

The Pain Relief Network has posted updates on the case of Virgin Islands pain physician Dr. Paul Maynard, here, here and here. I don't think we have past coverage of Dr. Maynard's case on DRCNet, but our under-treatment of pain feed gets updated regularly (and is also available via RSS).
Location: 
VI
United States

What the heck is going on in Licking County, Ohio?

There's something funny going on in Licking County, Ohio. According to the local newspaper's courthouse roundup, a bunch of people were charged with drug trafficking, but the charges don't seem to match the facts. Let me show you what I mean:
• Ti C. Warner, 27, last known address 381 N. Executive Drive, Newark, was charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs, a second-degree felony. The charge also carries a specification of selling drugs near a school. Between March 29 and 30, Warner allegedly was observed by Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force buying a total of about seven grams of methamphetamine on two occasions, according to court reports. Both purchases were allegedly made in the vicinity of a Newark City school, according to court reports. Branstool set Warner’s bond at $40,000. • Sherry L. Runyon, 46, last known address 16328 Pleasant Hills, Newark, was charged with trafficking in crack cocaine, a fifth degree felony. On April 11, she allegedly was observed by Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force buying less than one gram of crack cocaine, according to court reports. Branstool set Runyon’s bond at $10,000. • Kevin L. Barker, 29, last known address 9215 Lancaster Road, Hebron, was charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony. On March 26, he allegedly was observed by Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force buying 1.64 grams of methamphetamine, according to court reports. Branstool set Barker’s bond at $10,000.
Do you see what I mean? These are people who were apparently caught buying drugs. And they are charged with drug trafficking? I don't know who is responsible for these charging decisions—either the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force or local prosecutors—but they don't seem to be supported by the facts. And here's one more bizarre charging example from Licking County:
• Kelly L. Mihelarakis, 32, last known address 633 Mount Vernon Road, Newark, was charged with permitting drug abuse, a fifth-degree felony. Between March 29 and 30, Mihelarakis allegedly allowed an associate to buy about seven grams of methamphetamine on two occasions. Both alleged purchases were made in the vicinity of a Newark City school, according to court reports. Branstool set Mihelarakis’ bond at $5,000.
Excuse me!? "Permitting drug abuse"? This person is charging with not stopping someone else from buying speed? This is a crime? You have got to be kidding. Well, my hat is off to the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Licking County criminal justice system. With their apparently unjustified charging decisions, they are certainly doing their part to ensure that Ohio's chronic prison overcrowding crisis continues.
Location: 
OH
United States

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

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