Innocent Americans spent at least 10,000 years in jail

There are innocent Americans being convicted here in San Diego too. Many defendants are scared and have very little money so they are easy to convince to take a plea deal for less time and this leads to more convictions too. The DA’s office has a habit of over charging people in order to manipulate them into plea deals even if they are not guilty. This is another good reason why you need an attorney that is experienced, competent and is not afraid of a trial.

The US Constitution guarantees a fair trial, but the number of Americans that will argue otherwise is incredible. At least 2,000 people have been sentenced to prison for crimes in the last 23 years, only to eventually be exonerated by the court.

As shocking as it may be, until now there has been no official database of information pertaining to Americans wrongfully convicted of crimes only to be exonerated down the road. As a result, researchers at the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law took it upon themselves to change all that and have just now rolled out a database that examines exonerations in America and the findings are astounding. Taking into account as much information as obtainable dating back to 1989, more than 2,000 people have been sentenced to time behind bars for crimes that the court would later say they did not commit.

Scanning barely two decades of available info, researchers have found a trove of information detailing 873 well-documented exoneration cases. Of just those, the time spent behind bars totals to more than 10,000 years in prison. The creators of the database have found proof of roughly 1,200 separate exonerations during the same time span, although less information at this point is available.

So far the results offer an uncensored look at the falsities of the US justice system, and, sadly, the researchers feel like they are only just beginning to dive into the data.

“We know there are many more that we haven’t found,” University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross tell the Associated Press of his findings.

Although the database only contains a limited amount of information for now, Gross says that it is a critical starting point for reexamining the mistakes that mare the justice system in the United States.

 

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PRESS CONFERENCE HALL OF JUSTICE

 

For Immediate Release: PRESS CONFERENCE – 5/22/2012 – 12:30pm – Hall of Justice

Medical Marijuana Trial of Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, has arranged a press conference on behalf of the defense, in front of the Hall of Justice at 330 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:30PM.

Last week on Wednesday, May 16th in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court, before The Honorable Laura Parsky, a jury was selected and the trial began.

Throughout the last week, the Prosecution presented its side of the criminal trial of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla a navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing Collective (THC), a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.

The Prosecution’s entire case consisted of two witnesses from Dumanis’ Cross Jurisdiction Task Force. The Task Force is an entity Dumanis strongly supports which was formed to commandeer local law enforcement in effort to help the federal government circumvent the state’s medical marijuana laws.

In the DA’s case, San Diego Police Officer Paul Paxton and DEA Agent Lindsay Bellomy testified exhaustively to the existence of THC, a fact not disputed by the defense. Paxton also testified to the existence of marijuana at the collective’s two sites, another fact not in dispute. The Prosecution then rested, having failed to prove the illegality or even raise one instance of where Padilla was out of compliance.

Dumanis’ contention is that marijuana existed therefore a crime was committed, a position held by the federal government not the state of California, where the case is being tried.

The defense represented by attorney Michael J. McCabe, included expert witness Chris Conrad, who testified to the nature of THC’s crop, the expected yields and his expert opinion of the collective’s needs.

Also, taking the stand for the defense was THC’s General Counsel Attorney Mark Wuerfel. According to Mr. Wuerfel’s testimony, on June 17, 2010, DEA agent, Beau Bilek, led a warrant-less raid on the offices of the Redwood Law Group, Mr. Wuerefel’s firm in northern California and stole attorney client privileged records of THC’s patient files.

In his testimony, Mr. Wuerfel described, the theft, the Mendocino Superior Court’s subsequent Court Order to the DEA to return the documents, the return of the documents and their destroyed condition.

Also described by Mr. Wuerfel, were the great lengths THC went through to comply with state law in the forming of the coop. During his testimony Mr. Wuerfel introduced THC’s Articles of Incorporation, the organization’s board meeting minutes, CPA reports, tax records and the only complete patient file returned by the DEA.

On Monday, May 21, 2012, Dexter Padilla will take the stand.

Media Inquiries: Eugene Davidovich – 619-755-2093

Further Information: * More Problems at DEA: Agent Implicated in Theft of Attorney Client Records in State Medical Marijuana Trial – http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2012/05/more-problems-at-dea-agent-implicated.html * DA Bonnie Dumanis Pushes on with Prosecution of Legal San Diego Medical Marijuana Collective – http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2011/07/da-bonnie-dumanis-pushes-on-with.html * Padilla Trial Brief – https://docs.google.com/open?id= 0BzB7GtZTkQ0GaXZDcm9KQWFxaW8

More Problems at DEA: Agent Implicated in Theft of Attorney Client Records in State Medical Marijuana Trial

San Diego Marijuana Criminal Defense

By: Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Americans for Safe Access 

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis presses on with trial of medical marijuana patient in full compliance with state law even after feds refuse to prosecute and court records show DEA’s involvement in theft of attorney-client records. Press conference scheduled for Friday morning. 

SAN DIEGO – Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected on Wednesday in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court, officially starting the criminal trial of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla a navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing, a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.

According to court records, it all started on June 17, 2010 when DEA agent Beau Bilek led a raid on the offices of the Redwood Law Group after his requests for a search warrant were denied by the Mendocino County Superior Court. Attorney and President of the firm raided that day was Mark Wuerfel, the business attorney representing Therapeutic Healing of which Padilla is President.

The trial brief submitted by defense attorney Michael J. McCabe this week states that on June 17, 2010 Agent Bilek “looted privileged attorney-client files”, as well as data from the law firm’s computers including information about the different medical marijuana patients and coops the firm represented.

After the raid, the Mendocino County Court actually intervened and ordered the DEA to return the stolen property as well as instructed the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office to help retrieve the records from the DEA. Still, the agency refused and only returned two of the original four stolen boxes.

Privileged information obtained from the unlawful raid on the attorney’s office, including the fact that Mr. Wuerfel represented a collective named Therapeutic Healing in San Diego, was distributed to various DEA offices throughout the state. In San Diego, cross sworn DEA Agent Paxton picked up the case and began shopping it around for prosecution.

On January 27, 2011, six months after Bilek stole the records, Padilla was arrested by Paxton.

The investigation leading up to Padilla’s arrest yielded zero evidence of criminal activity and proved quite the opposite. It showed Therapeutic Healing was operating in strict and unambiguous compliance with all state laws.

Padilla hired Mr. Wuerful as the coop’s general counsel, paid all the required taxes, and hired a tax attorney and CPA to ensure the coop’s financial records were all properly kept and in compliance with the law.

After Paxton failed to convince the US Attorney’s office to prosecute Padilla in federal court he appealed to Dumanis’ office which has a long standing record of chipping away at the State’s medical marijuana program through prosecutions of legitimate patients. Dumanis’ office happily picked up the case.

When Padilla was originally notified of the charges against him, his attorney’s immediately scheduled a time and sat down with the DA and opened up all the coop’s records for examination. They showed all the taxes paid, the board meeting notes, sales receipts, business records, etc.

According to the defense, every single request made by the prosecution for information, documents and evidence about Therapeutic Healing and Padilla was voluntarily provided by the defense.

The law requires that prosecutors prior to filing charges evaluate whether a defendant should be charged with the crimes at all. In the case of Padilla, the DA refused to consider all the evidence of compliance and along with the DEA failed to provide any explanation for the continuing prosecution of Padilla, even after overwhelming evidence was provided by the defense establishing immunity from prosecution.

The DEA’s behavior in this case as well as the refusal of the San Diego DA’s office to review all the evidence proves that this prosecution is nothing more than a thinly veiled agenda of the DEA to promote its federal goals of undermining the State law and sanctioned medical marijuana programs.

As a result of this bias driven effort to eradicate medical marijuana from California and continued effort to chip away at patient’s rights, it is now necessary for the court and a jury to do what should have been done previously by the prosecution in finding that Padilla is not guilty of committing the alleged criminal acts being asserted by them.

The trial is being held in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court.

The attorneys have called a press conference for Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:15am in front of the Hall of Justice – 330 W Broadway, San Diego CA

Further Information: Click Here

 

DA Bonnie Dumanis Pushes on with Prosecution of Legal San Diego Medical Marijuana Collective

By: Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access

Legal cannabis patient Dexter Padilla was in court last week in front of Judge Albert T. Hartunian III as he and his attorney, Michael J. McCabe, of the Davidovich victory, fought it out with Prosecutor Ramin Tohidi over whether there was enough prosecutorial evidence to bind the case over for trial.

The Preliminary Examination of the evidence on one count of cannabis cultivation and one count of possession with intent to distribute came after a series of exhaustive disclosure meetings between attorneys for defense and prosecution where, the defense’ witness, Mark Wuerfel, Esq. Dexter’s civil attorney, laid open Dexter’s books, Articles of Incorporation papers, Bylaws and every other piece of evidence to show Dexter’s lawfulness in his cultivation and possession of medical cannabis.

The disclosure meetings proved both unusual and ultimately unsuccessful, based on the fact that Bonnie Dumanis’ office stubbornly refuses to drop this case against a shinning example of a patient citizen’s efforts to navigate the murky medical marijuana laws and her refusal to interpret the law in a manner that is fiscally responsible and logical.

Preliminary exam proceedings began with the prosecution’s first witness, Detective Paul Paxton of the San Diego Police Department. Paxton, cross-sworn as a DEA Agent and part of Dumanis’ expensive and politically conceived Narcotics Task Force (NTF), testified to having 12 years as a narcotics officer with training from various drug enforcement entities as well as “what he’s seen on TV” about drug enforcement.

Paxton denied training in medical marijuana but went on to explain his interpretation of plant yields. An interpretation which defense held him accountable for on cross as Mr. McCabe wrangled with Paxton to admit un-rooted cuttings have only a 30% survival rate and other contrived opinions about yields from Paxton’s testimony.

Mr. McCabe, in his cross also examined the details of the investigation which led to the search warrant and raid of Dexter Padilla’s legally grown cannabis. Of note is that Paxton’s surveillance, which took but one day, included the knowledge that Dexter was involved in a legitimate medical cannabis co-op and was in fact providing medicine to patients. Paxton, instead of attempting to verify the co-op, or contact it’s directors, went ahead and obtained the search warrant and raided the warehouse where Dexter grew for his patients, destroying the medicine which was intended to provide relief for those patients.

Mr. McCabe put forth a number of exhibits in defense of Dexter’s co-op, including, Articles of Incorporation with language about the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and signed by the Secretary of State, the co-op’s financials, prepared by a CPA, Bylaws and minutes from the Board of Directors meetings as well as patient and grower contracts, the latter of which included language for oversight of each grow as well as legal doctors’ cannabis recommendations for each grower.

In a fastidious but prickly move, Tohidi demanded the doctor recommendations be removed from each grower contract packet as he questioned the validity of the recommendations.

Arguments for the defense brought Mr. Wuerfel to the stand, who not only served as Dexter’s civil attorney but the Custodian of Records for the co-op. Tohidi fretted, in his attempt to eliminate Mr. Wuerfel as a witness, that he would opine on law and maneuver to school the judge. However, the judge allowed Mr. Wuerfel to take the stand.

Mr. Wuerfel a former federal law clerk, attorney of 33 years, law professor and founder of Redwood Law Group, testified to the lengths he advised Dexter to go to demonstrate lawfulness in his co-op and the methods of disclosure he recommended.

Among the advice Dexter followed were processes for board of director oversight, source/cultivation documentation, financial considerations and tax oversight, methods of facilitating the examination of these documents by co-op members and law enforcement and host of other mechanisms meant to exceed the most stringent view of the Attorney General Guidelines for Medical Marijuana. It was on Mr. Wuerfel’s recommendation that Dexter re-file his current Articles of Incorporation papers to include the CUA language.

In final argument Mr. McCabe referred to a number of cases including People v. Konow 2004, a case McCabe himself won, in which a patient/defendant may suggest that the court dismiss a case ” in the interest of justice”, and the court has the power to do so.

However, while Judge Hartunian admitted the prosecution had not proven unlawfulness, he, never-the-less, bound Dexter Padilla over for trial so his case could go before a jury.

I had the opportunity to speak with Dexter and Mr. Wuerfel about the climate of medical cannabis law in California, Mr. Wuerfel, who has had his own struggles with federal agents in defense of legal medical cannabis law, stated that often in these cases the procedure is the punishment but expressed confidence that Dexter had conducted his co-op with his i’s dotted and t’s crossed and it would likely not escape jury notice.

Dexter will be arraigned on July 28, 2011 in Department 11.
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