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March 24, 2009

Unexpected Help From a Federal Judge?

My complaints about the cavalier behavior of federal judges during highly selective prosecutions of some who became involved in California’s disputed medical marijuana program were based on cases I’d become familiar with by reading about them. Except for the two trials of Ed Rosenthal in San Francisco, most prosecutions followed the Raich decision in June, 2005 and had taken place in either Fresno or Sacramento. Several have been written up by a single author.

My own intense exposure to federal injustice has been mostly personal; it relates to the ongoing saga of Dustin Costa, who has been serving an egregious 15 year sentence in Texas since February 2007.

His trial was in Fresno; a sentence of 15 years was imposed 19 months after an unexplained (and unprecedented) transfer of jurisdiction from state to federal authorities in August 2005. There are many other cruel details; most can be found by searching the blog for "Costa.'

To return to this entry's opening thoughts, yesterday a federal judge in LA whose name was new to me interrupted the routine sentencing of an already convicted Morro Bay dispensary operator to direct a potentially game-changing question directly at Obama’s new Attorney General. The judges request, that the new AG disclose (or explain) any further changes in policy before he passes sentence on Charles Lynch, may sound uninformed, even naive.

But the possibilities are many, and at least potentially provocative; it will depend on what the judge has in mind, and to a significant degree, how the public responds. Typical of these complicated cases, Hu wasn’t necessarily questioning the original decision to prosecute Lynch, or even why he was prosecuted by the feds for a "crime" protected under stste law. On the surface, he may just be s fussbudget simply trying to find out if the new AG has any more surprises up his sleeve. On the other hand, he may be playing an activist role, either deliberately or inadvertently.

I've learned not to put too much trust in the integrity of federal judges, but must admit that Wu's novel behavior is encouraging. If nothing else, it calls attention to a particularly egregious injustice, one almost made to order for the classic medical marijuana pitch.

Perhaps a good technique for those living in LA; indeed, anywhere in California, would be to pump up the very well done Drew Carey Video and hope the judge will see it.

As for me, I'll be watching developments in the hope that someone in the Obama Justice Department will notice how far the drug war has led America from the ideals it still claims to believe in, but trashes every day in its courts and prisons.

It would be nice to feel proud of my country for a change.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 24, 2009 10:46 PM