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November 23, 2006

Justice Miscarried


Yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving, twelve federal jurors from Fresno took the path of least resistance and returned to their holiday preparations after voting unanimously to convict my friend Dustin Costa of illegally growing cannabis ('marijuana') a mere two hours after receiving the case from Judge Anthony Ishii, who will pass sentence at some future date. The maximum (20 years) he could give Costa, who turned both 59 and 60 while spending the last 16 months in the Fresno County jail awaiting trial, and is also diabetic, would amount to a life sentence. Ironically, Ishii is certain to be aware of that because he has a degree in Pharmacy earned before he went to law school.

This egregious miscarriage of justice was reported in an appropriately sketchy account in the local paper, one quite in keeping with the few details jurors were allowed to hear during a trial severely truncated  by rulings from the bench. There were only two defense witnesses: Chris Conrad, who was mentioned in the Bee article, and myself, who was not.

One of the few things I know for sure is that the jurors had to know this was a 'medical marijuana' case, yet they all opted to convict and eat turkey; there were no hold-outs for basic fairness. That doesn't auger well for the pending federal prosecutions stacked up behind Costa's trial,which was clearly seen as a dress rehearsal for those to follow. While there is good reason to hope the Ninth Circuit won't go along, Costa's conviction clears the way for a federal steamroller to start in Fresno in 2007 and run unimpeded; at least until the much slower appellate process can catch up.

I'll have a lot more to say about the Costa tragedy (there is no other word to describe it) in coming weeks. Hopefully, the powers that be will allow him out on bond pending the appeal he intends to file, but for the immediate future, federal control over 'justice' is far greater than over the illegal pot market they claim to oppose.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 23, 2006 05:31 PM