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
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.
for the whole story
We have seen many things but this takes the cake.
Conrad Murray is still putting people to sleep — only this time the “patients” are stoners who are buying the latest strain of marijuana — named after the doc — at California weed shops.
The strain is being sold under the name, “Conrad Murray OG.” One weed shop owner boasted, “It puts you to sleep … for a really long time.”
As for whether Doc Murray will take legal action — well, he’s got bigger fish to fry.
origins of the story is Here
Prosecution dismissed our medical marijuana case at trial call on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, in People v. Jesse Bogardus and Sean Shannon.
Co-defendant’s counsel was Lance Rogers. I hope this is not a tactical retreat because they are still beating the bushes for additional witnesses. But, the neighbors in the back country are not responsive to the “rat off your neighbor because its your civic responsibility” pitch being made.
– Mike McCabe