TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2012
State legal Medical Cannabis Patient Remains in Federal Detention as U.S. Attorney Pressure for Plea
San Diego, CA – Ron Chang, a state legal medical cannabis patient, remains in federal custody after a motion to modify his pretrial release was denied by Judge Michael M. Anello in the United State District Court for the Southern District of California.
On July 30th, 2012, in front of Ron Chang’s supporters and patient advocates, Michael J. McCabe, attorney for Ron, presented a motion requesting a release from federal detention on (Ron’s) own recognizance (O.R) when his attempts to satisfy collateral for a 200,000 dollar bond were not met and the bond was pulled.
The local bond company first issued the bond but then took Ron into custody last month pointing to an audit by their underwriter as the cause for the bond pull and his re-arrest.
Both U.S. Prosecutor, Paul Starita and U.S. Pretrial Services Officer, Tammy Riedling argued vigorously against the motion for O.R. release. Starita, claiming to know nothing about the audit at the bond company which led to the arrest, was also dismissive of a heartfelt letter from a physician treating Mrs. Chang, Ron’s elderly mother.
The physician’s letter to the court requested Ron be released to resume the care of his mother. Pleas from Ron’s employer and assertions of his good character were also met with indifference by the Prosecutor and Pretrial Services Officer.
Judge Arnello called the aim of the motion a “humanitarian issue” but Riedling listed a host of petty violations such as low batteries in the tracking device used to monitor Ron previous to the June arrest as her reason for opposing the motion.
Starita, knowing that a man in custody is strategic positioning for his office to force a plea bargain, insisted the unsecured bond was his main objection to the O.R. release. Starita also argued that “anybody who used the care of their mom to get out of trouble” is problematic and clearly a flight risk, showcasing the U.S. Attorney’s utter disdain and lack of compassion for medical cannabis patients.
“This amounts to a vindictive prosecution,” said San Diego Americans for Safe Access Vice Chair, Marcus Boyd. Boyd pointed to a 2010 civil action in the City of San Marcos where MMSC, a collaboration of medical marijuana patients including Ron, successfully fought off an emergency injunction by the city. In his statement Boyd cited this article http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2010/10/san-marcos-sues-for-emergency.html as basis for his view.
After hearing the arguments, Judge Arnello denied the motion to modify Ron’s pretrial conditions without prejudice and gave the defense two weeks to secure the pulled bond with collateral.
The next hearing for the motion to modify Chang’s release will be held at 2:00 on August 21, 2012, in Department 5 of the US District Court at Front St. San Diego, CA 92101.
Ron Chang and his co-defendants James Brand, Gary Maddox, Hal Pilotte, Peter Suhan and Amanda Ventura (allegedly connected to Club One Collective/ Extreme Holistic Care) will also be in court with their attorney’s Michael McCabe, Paul Turner, Knut Johnson, James Dicks and Mark Bluemel, this time to argue motions challenging the legality of the wire tap used in this case.
The illegal wire tap hearing is scheduled for September 10th, 2012 also in Department 5 of the San Diego Federal Court Building at 940 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92101.
Additional articles on this case:
For more information:
Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Americans for Safe Access
Another devastating blow to San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ fierce fight against medical marijuana patients; Judge Parsky declared a mistrial after the jury was hopelessly deadlocked.
SAN DIEGO – On May 16th, twelve jurors and two alternates were selected in the trial of DA Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla, navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing, a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.
The jury began deliberations on Tuesday, May 22, after a long week of arguments and testimony from experts and the defendant, Dexter Padilla.
Two notes were turned in by the jury less then an hour after deliberations. The first was a request for the defendant’s testimony to be read and the second was a concern from all the jurors about juror #10 being hostile, refusing to participate, and preventing everyone from working towards a verdict.
After hearing from both sides about this issue and interviewing the foreman of the jury, Judge Parsky decided to admonish the jurors to be courteous to one another and sent them back to the jury room to continue deliberating. Within nineteen minutes of the second attempt at deliberations another note came in from the jury raising the same concerns about juror #10. Once again the judge interviewed the foreman, heard from the defense and prosecution, as well as disruptive juror #10. This time however, both sides were asking for the juror to be replaced with an alternate. The judge agreed and an alternate was selected.
Judge Parsky then brought the entire panel into the courtroom, dismissed juror #10 and instructed the new panel to start deliberations from scratch. By the time jurors began the second round of deliberations it was 3pm, and less than an hour to reach a decision was not enough.
Deliberations resumed yesterday at 9am. By 2:15 pm the jurors once again sent a note to the Judge. Everyone including the attorneys, defendant, his family and all the supporters rushed to court to find out what the note stated.
By 2:45pm court was in session and Judge Parsky revealed that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked and could not reach a verdict. After a few brief questions the Judge dismissed all the jurors, thanked them for their service, and proceeded to declare a mistrial, concluding the two charges would be dismissed.
Before the judge could finish uttering the word ‘mistrial,’ Deborah LaTouche, the deputy DA assigned to the case, was falling over herself to announce she would be re-filing both charges.
Michael McCabe, attorney for the defense, urged the court to dismiss the new charges in the interest of justice, citing the prosecution had not come close to reaching their burden of proof, and Padilla had been in full compliance with State’s medical marijuana laws.
Judge Parsky agreed, and in a very rare move dismissed both counts in the interest of justice citing the prosecution was bordering on ‘disingenuous’ in the way they presented their arguments in this case. The defendant, supporters, and everyone in court aside from the DA were overjoyed at the decision.
“Today, justice was served and Dumanis’ bias driven effort to chip away at the states medical marijuana program saw yet another defeat” said Terrie Best, court support coordinator for San Diego Americans for Safe Access
Dumanis tried Padilla on the basis he did not have all the coop’s documents together, which was the reason LaTouche used in her closing arguments in an attempt to prove guilt. The most outrageous part about LaTouche using the documents in her closing is all the records she claimed were not present, were the very records offered to her prior to trial, and the very records looted by the DEA in an unlawful raid on Mark Wuerfel’s office, the general counsel for Therapeutic Healing.
The fact that Judge Parsky dismissed the case in the interest of justice sends a strong message to Bonnie Dumanis’ office that Padilla is immune from prosecution as matter of law, and it would be impossible for them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was out of compliance.
“The Judge’s ruling shows this case never should have been tried in the first place and that Dumanis has a vendetta against qualified patients coming together in a lawful manner,” said Mark Wuerfel. “It underscores the malicious way in which the tax payers money is being squandered to try and put innocent people in prison where all they are trying to do is follow the law”.
After the conclusion of the trial, Deborah LaTouche was seen requesting transcripts from the court recorder signaling Dumanis’ office was considering an appeal, further proving the vindictive nature of Dumanis’ war on patients.
Bonnie Dumanis’ complete disregard for state law is a slap in the face to the will of the people, as well as all the patients who use Prop 215 and the State’s medical marijuana laws to protect themselves from overzealous prosecutors like Dumanis.
As a result of the amazing work of Michael J. McCabe, the criminal defense attorney representing Padilla, attorney Mark Wuerfel and his willingness to stand up for his client, and the dedication of patient advocates with San Diego Americans for Safe Access, the community saw justice served in court yesterday.
The following was published in the Criminal Defense Bar Association (CDBA) and Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Club (CDLC) News Letter. http://www.sddefense.org/
Congratulations to Michael McCabe who obtained a great result for his client after a two year battle. On March 24, 2009, a 21 count Complaint was filed against Michael’s client and four co‑defendants. Michael’s client was charged with conspiracy to defraud another of property in violation of Penal Code § 182(a)(4), and 10 counts of grand theft of personal property in violation of Penal Code § 487 (a). In addition, the Complaint alleged a white collar crime enhancement in violation of Penal Code § 186.11(a)(2) as to all defendants and all counts, as well as an enhancement as to all defendants and all counts alleging that the aggregate losses to the victims exceeded One Million Dollars within the meaning of Penal Code § 12022.6(a)(3). The trial took six weeks to complete against all defendants. Michael’s defense theory was that his client was just an employee of the firm that the co-defendants operated. Client was interviewed one year prior to the charges being filed.
His testimony at trial was consistent with what he had told the FBI, the DA’s investigator, and an IRS special agent one year prior (that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and was not a participant in any crime). Only seven counts were submitted to the jury. Ultimately, Client was acquitted of two counts and convicted of two counts, with the jury being hung on the remaining three counts. At the hearing on the motion for new trial, Judge Allard dismissed the hung verdicts, as well as the two guilty verdicts.
CDBA-CDLC Criminal Defense Newsletter www.sddefense.org
A JOINT PUBLICATION OF THE SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL DEFENSEBAR ASSOCIATION AND THE CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER’S CLUB
Featured MEMBER PROFILE – MICHAEL MCCABE CDBA CDLC June 2011 Newsletter