Coerced Treatment: Pennsylvania Legal Challenge Threatens Drug Courts, Judge Complains 7/22/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!


https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/396/pacase.shtml

An appeal filed by a Pennsylvania woman could have national repercussions on the way drug courts work, according to Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Louis Presenza. In an interview last week with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Judge Presenza warned that an adverse decision in the case would "affect programs across the commonwealth, maybe even across the country."

drug court
The woman in question, Sheryl Ann Fletcher, is demanding the same rights and privileges according to other people facing the loss of their liberty at the hands of the courts. Fletcher was arrested on burglary and theft charges related to her use of methamphetamine and agreed to be diverted into the Chester County Drug Court. That program is available to nonviolent offenders who agree to follow a treatment program and lasts one to two years, after which participants' records are cleared.

On June 29, Chester County Court Judge William P. Mahon, who oversees the drug court, jailed her for testing positive for methamphetamine, her third violation of drug court rules. But Fletcher's attorneys, Richard Breuer and S. Lee Ruslander II, sought and won a stay of the jail term from Superior Court, and Fletcher was released two days later. Fletcher and her attorneys made a due process claim, arguing that she did not receive advance written notice of the violation, proof of the alleged drug test results, or the chance to cross-examine witnesses.

While Fletcher's attorneys declined to talk to the Inquirer, the newspaper noted they had previously said they did not believe people relinquished all their rights just because they had entered a voluntary program.

But Judge Presenza told the newspaper the "core principles" of drug courts, especially the resort to immediate sanctions such as imprisonment, would be endangered if Fletcher prevailed. "Then, what have you won?" he asked. Offenders agree to drug court for "ulterior motives," Presenza said. "They want to stay out of jail or beat their case. They don't come in and say, 'I've got a problem; I must address it.'"

If Fletcher won her rights, worried Presenza, next thing you know everybody will be demanding them. "Word spreads quickly," Presenza said. "Every client will be appealing if they think they can avoid jail; the programs could not survive."

Drug court judges don't like their clients challenging the rules. When Fletcher showed up for her next drug court session on July 6, Judge Mahon threw her out of the program, saying she had signed up for rehabilitation, not litigation. Her attorneys filed a second appeal the next day to have her reinstated. That appeal was granted the following day, pending review.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #396 -- 7/22/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

Feature: Congressman Sensenbrenner Making Name as Drug War Extremist | Medical Marijuana: Steve McWilliams Remembered at Tuesday Vigils | DRCNet Interview: Cher Ford-McCullough and Jean Marlowe of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform | DRCNet Book Review: "An Analytic Assessment of US Drug Policy," by David Boyum and Peter Reuter | Medical Marijuana: California Reinstates ID Card Program | Medical Marijuana: Nearly a Thousand Rally in Santa Cruz | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | New Zealand: In Pragmatic Retreat, Nandor Tanczos Introduces Marijuana Decriminalization Bill | Europe: Magic Mushrooms Now Illegal in Great Britain | Asia: Philippines Man Gets 15 Years for Two Joints | Coerced Treatment: Pennsylvania Legal Challenge Threatens Drug Courts, Judge Complains | Web Scan: NOW Resolution, American Chronicle, NYT Editorial on Richard Paey, NORML Report, APHA/DPA Oregon Amicus | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar


This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]