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What Were Florida's Legislators, Prosecutors and Judges Thinking?

Everglades Correctional Institution
A federal judge in Orlando, Florida, did something good and important this week. Judge Mary Scriven tossed out Florida's drug law as unconstitutional. See our Chronicle report here.

The issue is one that is shocking to see even come up in this day and age: Florida's drug law was amended in 2002 to eliminate mens rea, the legal requirement that a defendant intended to commit the crime. For example, if you didn't know there were in drugs in a package -- e.g. someone else put them there and didn't tell you -- you can still be convicted for drug trafficking:

In his instructions to the jury in Shelton's case, the trial judge told jurors that "to prove the crime of delivery of cocaine, the state must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: that Mackle Vincent Shelton delivered a certain substance; and, that the substance was cocaine." The state did not have to prove that he knew he was carrying or distributing cocaine or any controlled substance at all.

I agree with Shelton's attorney, James Felman, who called the law "legally, beyond the pale." [St. Petersburg Times] No other state in the nation has tried this. So the question is, what the hell were Florida's legislators, prosecutors and judges thinking -- legislators for passing this, prosecutors for making use of it, judges for cooperating with it? And why did it take nine years to stop it? I think all these groups of people, or the ones involved, have some very, very serious explaining to do -- I struggle to think of a more improper course the law or our justice system could take.

By the way, in case there are any Speakeasy readers who don't know about our newsletter, Drug War Chronicle, please check it out -- it's here or on our home page here or by RSS feed here. Phil Smith produces a prodigious quantity of news writing for it each week and on most days.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Why?

Because this is Florida is the short answer. This is the State that Makes people in need of public assistance first pay for their own urine test. This is the State that is 100% about the control of its residents, keeping them poor and under the thumb of those that have the power and the money. 

You would think that with an older population this State would have Medical MJ? 

You would think that with an older population this State would have not elected Rick Scott?

Welcome to Florida, one of the most backward moving States in the Union!

I heard there was recently a

I heard there was recently a mayor in florida who was an old lady where they planted marijuana in her backyard. She simply said "the mariuana is not mine". No one ever thought to prosecute her. Maybe that's where this comes from. I'll see if I can find the story. 

Mayor

This story happened in Oak Hill Florida just south of Daytona where I am. The story made the local news and the funny thing is that the Mayor 84 years young suspects the Chief of Police and or the Police Department put the plants in her yard. I wonder why the Mayor would think such a thing? 

Reason Why

These laws are put in place to provide customers (arrestees, inmates) for the law enforcement & the prison for profit racket that oppresses "we the people"!

Treble Bass... Mayor Wins

Well it looks like the Mayor wins... The Oak Hill Police Department has been disolved..

 

http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/local/east-volusia/2011/08/02/oak-hill-fires-police-dept-city-clerk.html

wow. if it had been average

wow. if it had been average joe, especially if it had been average black joe, the guy might have spent years in prison. in the case of an old lady mayor she is considered to be harrassed and she ends up dissolving the police department, and then a few days later the whole state changes the law so no one can keep saying, "hey, you know.... even if you didn't know the plants were there.. you're supposed to be in jail right now...". I honestly think it's likely this is not a coincidence. Goes to show what drug laws are really aimed at accomplishing. 

they were thinking they've gotten away with so much other shit

they could get away with this too.

It Ain't Fair

The police should have investigated the mayor regardless of who she is not only because people are looking but because it is the legal, right thing to do. The laws are made without exceptions or is there?

 

 

 

Florida Law Enforcement and Justice System

Born in Morristown, NJ my parents moved moved the family to Polk County, Florida when I was just 3 years old.  I truly love and miss the Florida weather, lakes and beaches but have yet to successfully make the move back there. My story is about how the sheriff’s department turned a childhood buddy with a greedy streak into a drug trafficker by giving him thousands of dollars in cash to purchase methamphetamine. The major problem with this is that I was a passenger in his vehicle when he made a sale. Needless to say I tried to convince him he was selling to police and not to do it again one evening before going home. Of course he didn’t listen and war arrested and even so kind as to tell the officers my name when asked who was in the passenger in his vehicle weeks before.Now at 26 I’d been working 5 years and was supervisor at a door and millwork shop in Winter Haven never arrested before in my life. Of course they did not have probable cause to arrest me and here is where maybe it would have paid off to have gotten in trouble when younger. The next day my father, a retired high school teacher at Lake Wales High gets a call from a former student of his David Waller now a detective with the Florida Department Of Law Enforcement telling my father I am involved in drug trafficking and wanting me to meet with detectives. I refused at first but after seeing the pain in my father’s eyes agreed that I had nothing to do with the deals so what could it hurt to talk to them. Of course when we arrived at the sub station on Hwy. 27 we were asked to return an hour later since detectives were not there yet. This further confirming to me that they know I’m not guilty of any drug sales or they’d not let me turn around and leave. Surprise Surprise if they didn’t upon my return and talking to me with my father present during questioning charge me with trafficking in methamphetamine., arrest me, and haul me off to Jail.Hey, I’m no angel, I enjoyed getting high. I worked 40 plus hours a week and partied on the weekends. After hiring an attorney claiming my innocence all I’m told is I can get you a good deal but if you don’t take it the other two guys that were selling to the cops will testify against me to get their time cut and I’d end up doing more prison time then them “both with prior drug charges’ even. Now the final kick in the face comes the day in court when my attorney starts telling me conditions of my plea not previously discussed such as a 10:00 pm curfew for 1 year, loss of drivers license for 1 year, 100,000.00 mandatory fine, and even if I finished the probation still be adjudicated guilty even though this is my first ever offense. After assuring me I’d not have to pay the fine I reluctantly signed the deal. As soon as we walked out of that courtroom though I told my attorney to get me out of that deal then I can fire him and get another attorney and take my chances at with a jury trial. Not a chance!! Back in court in front of the same judge with my attorney telling him that because he felt the deal was in my best interest he held back information about the deal the judge simple told me to get out of the court room and stop wasting the courts time. Imagine fucking that.. Here I’m ready to put 8 years of my freedom on the line since I’m not guilty to begin with and I’m wasting the courts time.I’ve since come in possession of 7 transcribed phone conversations with detectives and my co-defendants. To further prove my point my name cannot be found in any one of those conversations in which all parties involved initials are printed next to what was said. I found out this past April while attempting to get copies of these conversations that I am not suppose to be in possession of them with the detectives names and initials on them. One of the detectives from this cause is now a captain with the sheriff’s department which I’ve attempted to contact on a few occasions , left messages, never to have my calls returned. To even further prove my point, the childhood buddy after being out of Federal Prison less then a year was selling methamphetamine to undercover detectives once again which should have landed him a mandatory 20 year sentence but once again he told on two other individuals ending up with less time in prison for his second trafficking offense.The 100,000.00 fine was no joke. After completing my probation the last month since the fine was not paid in full my probation was violated and a warrant issued for my arrest.I’m no attorney, of course I can’t be do to the felony now anyway.. haaa But should their be any help or support I can give you with your case please do not hesitate to ask. My Father passed away in the home he moved his family to Florida in on March 9, 2010 at the age of 81 feeling guilty for that day he asked me to talk to those detectives.

Drug war supporters need to read + think about what you've said

 and sicntired's many related rants, and the many other first hand testimonies of rough 'justice' courtesy of the war on users of selected drugs.

I hear that

I was a mid level heroin trafficker for almost 40 years here in Vancouver,Canada.I spent 12 of those years in prison and the one thing I discovered,to my disgust,is that the police wouldn't solve a single crime without rats.Every time I was arrested it was because some addict,with no criminal record(surprise,surprise)dimed me out to save them a night in jail.How many serial murderers are in the witness protection program because they informed on everyone they ever met?I spent every cent I ever made on drugs and lawyers and at 62 am still addicted to opiates.There are no winners in the drug war.The kind of person who does the crime and shunts the time on to someone else are the lowest of the low.The so called "law enforcement" officials who make these deals are as guilty as the sleaze balls they work.As for convicting people on conspiracy charges.This is just a way to send someone to prison for guilt by association.Like RICCO is just a way to send Italians to jail for associating with childhood friends.

Biblical perspective

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.
   If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes. Let's put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. Let's let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.
 

Biblical perspective

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.
   If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes. Let's put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. Let's let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.
   Here's one way that IT IS REALLY WORKING: Arresting the criminals and collecting a fee from registered growers (and bringing in thousands of dollars to support the county budget); what a great plan! This is the way to build a better America! http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/2011/07/the-pot-republic-one-sheriffs-quietly-radical-experiment.html
   The current proposal before Congress, bill HR 2306, will allow states to decide how they will regulate marijuana. You can email your Congressperson and Senators at http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml to discuss HR 2306.
And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great patriotic service for all of America!
 

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