Federal Courts

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LAPD skid row searches found unconstitutional

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-downtown25apr25,0,2444457.story?coll=la-home-local

Search and Seizure: Supreme Court Takes Up Rights of Vehicle Passengers

When police pull over the driver of a vehicle, are they also "seizing" the vehicle's passengers? That's the question the US Supreme Court pondered Monday as it heard oral arguments (transcript here) in the case of a California man arrested on methamphetamine charges after the vehicle in which he was riding was pulled over. Questions from the justices suggested they would not feel free to leave if they were passengers in a vehicle pulled over by police, and if that sentiment holds, the court could rule that passengers have the right to make Fourth Amendment challenges to any evidence seized and used against them.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/supremecourt1.jpg
US Supreme Court
The case pits the state of California against Bruce Brendlin, a former convict wanted for parole violation. Brendlin was a passenger in a car pulled over ostensibly to inspect possibly expired inspection tags. The officer recognized Brendlin, arrested him, searched the car, found methamphetamine supplies, and added a drug offense to the charges.

Brendlin eventually pleaded guilty, but appealed on the ground that the evidence should have been suppressed because the traffic stop was later found to be bogus. (The officer already knew the tags were good because he had stopped the car earlier that same day). The California Supreme Court rejected Brendlin's appeal, holding that only the driver had been "seized" during the traffic stop -- not Brendlin -- and thus Brendlin had no basis for challenging an illegal search.

Brendlin's attorney, Elizabeth Campbell, told the court that when a police officer pulls over a vehicle, "he seizes not only the driver of the car but also the car and every person and everything in that car."

California Deputy Attorney General Clifford Zall argued that it is only the driver, not the passenger, who is "seized" because it is the driver who submits to the officer's authority. That caused some skepticism among the justices, a majority of whom indicated through their comments that they believe passengers as well as the driver are "seized." That is also the position of the courts in most states.

While Brendlin appears likely to prevail on this issue, he is still likely to be imprisoned as a parole violator. Still, what would likely be a symbolic victory for Brendlin could become a substantive victory for the rest of us.

At Trial, Pain Has a Witness

Location: 
Alexandria, VA
United States
Publication/Source: 
New York Times
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/science/24tier.html?ex=1178078400&en=668889a55497424b&ei=5070&emc=eta1

Opinion: Still seeking some relief

Location: 
CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Record (CA)
URL: 
http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070420/A_OPINION01/704200309/-1/A_OPINION06

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.

Medical Marijuana: Feds to Retry Ed Rosenthal in Futile Prosecution

Federal prosecutors in the Ed Rosenthal medical marijuana cultivation case announced last Friday they will retry the guru of ganja, even though they cannot send him to prison and even though the presiding judge urged them to drop the case and admonished them for vindictively prosecuting him. US District Court Judge Charles Breyer, who has overseen the case from the beginning, demanded that prosecutors tell him who in the Justice Department had authorized this new prosecution.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/edrosenthalcourtdate.jpg
Ed Rosenthal at courthouse, with supporters, September 2006 (courtesy indybay.org)
Rosenthal was convicted in federal court in San Francisco in 2003 on marijuana cultivation charges after Breyer ruled he could not present evidence showing he was cultivating medicinal marijuana legally under California law and with the approval of local authorities. When jury members heard the rest of the story after they convicted him, they held a news conference to denounce their own verdict.

In the wake of the juror rebellion, Judge Breyer sentenced Rosenthal to one day in jail, which he had already served. While his original conviction was overturned because of juror misconduct, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the one-day sentence, which prosecutors had appealed.

But that same ruling affirmed the federal government's right to prosecute medical marijuana violators, and the prosecutors, led by US Attorney Scott Schools, apparently irked by Rosenthal's high profile criticisms of them, decided to retry him on the cultivation charges and throw in four counts of money laundering and five counts of filing a false federal income tax return as well. Breyer threw out the new charges last month, saying they were solely to punish Rosenthal for winning his appeal.

"This isn't a criminal case, this is a political case," Rosenthal told reporters as he arrived at the courthouse dressed in a blue wizard's robe with a golden marijuana leaf emblazoned over the breast. "I may as well get my money's worth and have a trial."

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

Federal prosecutors will retry Oakland, Calif., marijuana grower known as the 'ganja guru'

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Arizona Daily Star
URL: 
http://www.azstarnet.com/news/178376

Right to treatment: Fire survivor takes on county’s marijuana position

Location: 
San Diego, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
San Diego CityBeat
URL: 
http://www.sdcitybeat.com/article.php?id=5577

ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: Week of 3/23

FEDERAL: Raich Medical Marijuana Ruling Draws Criticism CONNECTICUT: Medical Marijuana Bill Supported MINNESOTA: State Medical Marijuana Measure Moves Forward RHODE ISLAND: Medical Marijuana Law Needs Action NEW MEXICO: Lawmakers’ Courage Lauded WASHINGTON: Limits of Medical Marijuana Law Questioned CALIFORNIA: Medical Marijuana ID Card Protections Clarified DISPENSARIES: Support from Officials with Experience __________________________________________ FEDERAL: Raich Medical Marijuana Ruling Drawing More Criticism Some take issue with the legal reasoning underpinning an appellate court’s ruling that Angel Raich, a terminally ill California who has been seeking protection from federal prosecution, cannot claim medical necessity for the purpose of an injunction. But all agree that keeping life-saving medicine from anyone must be wrong. Marijuana as medicine a decision for doctors EDITORIAL, The Republican (MA) Under the supervision of a physician, with adequate controls to prevent its abuse or improper use, marijuana is a proven, effective treatment for some seriously ill patients. The nation's lawmakers should look in their own medicine cabinets where they might find prescription drugs far more toxic and dangerous than marijuana. The Case of Angel Raich by Jon Carroll, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle I think the federal government, in this case, is no better than a thug. I think that prosecutors who go after medical marijuana cases are criminals, morally if not actually. I think all the people who have participated in giving people ridiculous three-strike prison sentences for marijuana-related crimes are hypocrites and fools. It's an obvious and complete injustice. They all know it. They should all be ashamed of themselves. U.S. Judges Kill the Ninth Amendment by Fred E. Foldvary, Editorial, The Progress Report The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed on March 14 that the Ninth Amendment to the United States is now null and void, and that the federal government of the United States of America has no moral legitimacy. The judges did not explicitly express those statements in their ruling, but that is the implication. The case involved a woman whose life, according to her doctor, can only be preserved with medical marijuana. The judges ruled that the federal government may nevertheless prosecute her for violating federal laws regarding drugs. __________________________________________ CONNECTICUT: Medical Marijuana Bill Supported Emmy-award winning talkshow host Montel Williams lent support to a bill advancing through the Connecticut legislature. The former marine has been outspoken about how marijuana has helped him fight the symptoms of MS. Montel Williams makes emotional plea for Conn. medical marijuana bill by Susan Haigh, Associated Press Syndicated television talk show host Montel Williams choked back tears Friday as he urged Connecticut lawmakers to pass a bill legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes. Conn. lawmakers resurrect bill to allow medical use of marijuana by Susan Haigh, Associated Press A move to legalize marijuana for people suffering from certain medical problems cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday, giving hope to those who've been pushing for the bill for several years. Conn. judiciary panel OKs medical marijuana by Ken Dixon, Connecticut Post Connecticut would become the 13th state to let gravely ill people use marijuana, under legislation overwhelmingly approved Wednesday in the Judiciary Committee after a brief debate. __________________________________________ MINNESOTA: State Medical Marijuana Measure Moves Forward Committee by committee, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow Minnesotans to use marijuana on their doctors’ advice. Public opinion polls there show strong support for protecting patients. Minn. medical marijuana bill takes another step forward by Joe Fryer, KARE 11 (Minneapolis) A proposal to allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana with their doctors' permission is working its way through the state legislature. Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Approved By Second House Panel Drug War Chronicle Members of a Minnesota House committee Monday voted to approve a medical marijuana bill despite the objections of law enforcement. The House Public Safety and Civil Law Committee approved the bill, HF655, on an 11-8 vote. It has already passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and is now headed for the House Finance Committee. __________________________________________ RHODE ISLAND: Medical Marijuana Law Needs Action The “sunset clause” Rhode Island lawmakers added to their medical marijuana bill means that the protections it affords will expire without further action by the legislature. By all accounts the program has been successful, with only one problem reported. ASA's Rhode Island Campaign for Safe Access is working to educate the community and legislators. Medical marijuana advocates ask to make law permanent Associated Press Medical marijuana advocates ask legislators to permanently legalize medicinal marijuana in Rhode Island. __________________________________________ NEW MEXICO: Lawmakers’ Courage Lauded The reversal of fortune for patients in New Mexico – with the legislature defeating a medical bill one week and then passing another the next – has opinionmakers commending the officials who found the courage to act. Editorial: Applaud lawmakers for medical pot bill EDITORIAL, Albuquerque Tribune It took years, a lot of wrangling and considerable grief, but finally New Mexico will join 11 other progressive and caring states that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. __________________________________________ WASHINGTON: Limits of Medical Marijuana Law Questioned The purpose of medical marijuana laws is clear: to protect patients from prison. The details of how patients are to comply with state medical laws can cause problems however, with some patients excluded on technicalities or issues of timing. Busted Pullman man fighting pot conviction by Courtney Adams, Daily Evergreen Nearly three years after being busted for marijuana possession, a Pullman man is still appealing a court decision that found him guilty of the crime. Loren R. Hanson grew marijuana plants after receiving information from his doctor, intending to use the marijuana to treat his glaucoma, his lawyer said. __________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Medical Marijuana ID Card Protections Clarified State ID cards may guarantee patients protection from arrest, but according to a state appeals court, they don’t protect against searches. Law enforcement officers can confirm that patients who have state ID cards are within state or county amount guidelines. Pot card can't stop searches, court says by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle California's medical marijuana law doesn't protect card-carrying patients from being stopped and searched by police who detect the presence of the drug, a state appeals court ruled Thursday. Court: Medical Marijuana Law Doesn't Bar Search by Bay City News, KPIX CBS 5 (San Francisco) California's medical marijuana law doesn't protect a person who claims to be a patient from a reasonable search of his or her car, a state appeals court in San Francisco ruled today. __________________________________________ DISPENSARIES: Support from Officials with Experience The importance of medical marijuana dispensaries to the most seriously ill Californians is obvious to their family and friends. When those family or friends are also local officials, there is no need to explain that dispensaries are a compassionate, community-based solution for providing access. In communities with moratoria in place, ASA is working to educate officials on the benefits of sound regulations for dispensaries. Politics of Caring by Zachary Stahl, Monterey County Herald When City Council-member Jyl Lutes’ then-husband lost his appetite during a battle with bone cancer more than 20 years ago, Stanford doctors gave him an experimental prescription: a vial of tightly-rolled joints. The marijuana cigarettes, she recalls, had a stamp from the Department of Agriculture on them and the directions read, “smoke at the first sign of nausea.” Lutes says the pot helped ease the pain of his last days—he died at the age of 30. Fontana staff: Ban pot dispensaries, for now by Michael Mello, Press-Enterprise (CA) Saying there's a local need, medical-marijuana advocates recently approached Fontana's Department of Community Development with questions about what city codes said concerning the operation of dispensaries. DHS extends medical marijuana moratorium by Bill Byron, Desert Sun Medical marijuana will have to wait at least another year in Desert Hot Springs.
Location: 
United States

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