Medical Marijuana: Judges Growls at More Possible Prosecution Misconduct in Bryan Epis Resentencing Hearings 12/9/05

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/414/episcase.shtml

Bryan Epis became a cause celebre after being sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for a medical marijuana grow. He served two years before being released on appeal, and is now in court for resentencing in the wake of the Supreme Court's Booker and Fan Fan decisions, which threw out mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Epis' attorney, Brenda Grantland, had already charged prosecutorial misconduct in the case for the government's attempt to portray pipe-dream sketches of a major medical marijuana facility as an actual event. In a hearing this week, Assistant US Attorney Samuel Wong handed her evidence of even more misconduct, and while Grantland described herself as "livid," she must also have been pleased.

David Borden & Bryan Epis at the April 2005 NORML conference
According to Grantland, as she awaited the start of the hearing, Wong walked over and handed her a document reading: "DEA Special Agent Brian Nehring is the new DEA agent assigned to the Bryan Epis case. Special Agent Nehring informs me that one of the agents assigned to this case after DEA Special Agent Ron Mancini's departure mistakenly allowed the documents seized from Bryan Epis' home to be destroyed. I am awaiting my receipt of reports on the destruction of the documents and will forward them to you upon my receipt. On behalf of the United States, I sincerely apologize for this error. For your information, the United States Attorney's Office has maintained custody of the prosecution's trial exhibits."

The documents included potential exculpatory evidence showing government wrongdoing as well as medical records that could back up his claim he had a legitimate need for marijuana. When Grantland told Judge Frank Damrell what had happened, Damrell couldn't believe it.

"I've never in my career known that to happen," he said, scoffing at Wong's claim it was inadvertent. "Somebody has to give this order to destroy evidence. I'm not accusing you, Mr. Wong, but I don't see how this could have happened inadvertently."

Judge Damrell gave Wong two weeks to explain what happened and provide an inventory of the destroyed evidence. That will be reviewed at the next hearing.

All the government wanted to do was send Epis to prison again for growing pot for sick people, but its efforts threaten to be tripped up by its own "lies and corruption," Grantland wrote. Let's hope so.

(Click here to read Drug War Chronicle's interview with Bryan Epis last July. Scroll to the bottom of it for information on how to send Judge Damrell a letter of support for Bryan -- there's still time!)

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Issue #414 -- 12/9/05

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Update and Appeal: DRCNet in 2006 | Feature: Vancouver Keeps Leading the Way on Drug Reform, Despite Bumps in the Road | Feature: Seattle Conference on Drug War Exit Strategies Gets Down to Nuts and Bolts | Feature: Washington Legislature to Consider Bill to Examine Alternatives to Prohibition | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Marijuana: Denver Man to Challenge Pot Arrest After Legalization Ordinance in Effect | Chronic Pain: South Carolina Pain Doctors Lose Appeal, But Get New Sentencing Hearings | Medical Marijuana: Judges Growls at More Possible Prosecution Misconduct in Bryan Epis Resentencing Hearings | Medical Marijuana: San Diego County to Sue to Overturn California Law | Latin America: Prison Sentence for Dying Woman, 79, Sparks International Appeal | Australia: Australian Government Goes After Rave Ecstasy Testing Group | Europe: Czech Lower House Passes Drug Reform Measure, Including Decriminalization of Marijuana Possession and Personal Grows | Canada: With Elections Looming, Conservatives Talk Tough on Drugs | Europe: Dutch Political Parties Call for Regulated Pilot Program to Supply Marijuana to Coffee Shops | Web Scan: After I-75 in Seattle, re-launched web site from Bolivia's coca country | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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