Lock him up! With video evidence against them, why are so many of these officials allowed to plead to misdemeanors?! Nail them with felony charges.
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Cuyahoga County corrections officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges that accuse him of failing to attend to an inmate who died of a drug overdose in 2018 and falsifying records after the inmate’s death.
Martin Devring, 61, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of dereliction of duty and tampering with records in the death of Joseph Arquillo. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office dropped a misdemeanor charge of interfering with civil rights.
As part of his plea agreement, Devring agreed not to try to get his job back or seek back pay. The county fired him three months after Arquillo’s death.
Prosecutors and Devring’s defense attorneys filed sentencing memorandums on Tuesday night in anticipation that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams would sentence Devring immediately following his plea. Collier-Williams said during Wednesday’s hearing, conducted via Zoom, that she would hold an in-person sentencing hearing “due to the seriousness of this case” and set that hearing for March 15.
Devring faces up to nine months in jail but is eligible for probation.
Devring is the second former jail employee to plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from Arquillo’s death. Former warden Eric Ivey was sentenced to probation in October 2019 after he pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation into Arquillo’s death Ivey ordered investigators to turn off their body cameras in the moments after Arquillo’s death so as not to create evidence that could assist a civil lawsuit.
Assistant Ohio Attorney Generals Linda Powers and Daniel Kasaris, in a sentencing brief filed Tuesday, asked Collier-Williams to send Devring to jail.
“Devring will never fully understand the impact of his crimes until he sees his own conduct through the eyes of an inmate who must depend on corrections officers like him,” the brief said.
Devring’s defense attorney Roger Synenberg asked for probation in his sentencing memorandum.
Surveillance video previously released to cleveland.com showed Devring sitting at a desk and falsifying logs, saying he had conducted rounds, and reading The Plain Dealer sports page. Arquillo, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war booked into jail on a probation violation charge, lay crumpled on the ground. More than an hour after Arquillo collapsed, Devring walked over and kicked his mat, then turned around and walked back to his desk.
Devring wrote in his logs that he completed rounds every 15 minutes during his shift and that the area was secure while Arquillo lay dying on the floor.
Devring left for his lunch break about 12:50 p.m., and within minutes the corrections officer who replaced him called for emergency help for Arquillo, who was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Arquillo died of a drug overdose and had heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and Valium in his system.
Yost’s office said the investigation into Arquillo’s death uncovered that some jail supervisors told officers to falsify logs to show they completed rounds even when they couldn’t. The brief also notes that some corrections officers refused to do so but that Devring wasn’t one of them.
“For several hours, Devring failed to do his job and repeatedly falsified records to conceal his own laziness and inattention to an obvious inmate crisis,” the brief said.
Arquillo was one of nine inmates who died in county jails from June 2018 to May 2019. The deaths sparked a U.S. Marshals Service investigation that found in November 2018 that the jail was critically understaffed and overpopulated and that corrections officers threatened, beat and deprived inmates of food, water and medical care.
That investigation has led to more than a dozen current and former jail guards, including former jail director Ken Mills who is slated to begin trial in April. Mills faces multiple charges, including dereliction of duty that accuse him of recklessly failing to oversee the jail to the point where it created the dangerous conditions that led to the string of deaths and widespread Constitutional violations.
Arquillo’s son, Joseph Arquillo Jr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Devring, Ivey, Mills, former Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, County Executive Armond Budish and other jail and county officials. That lawsuit is currently pending in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
Settlement near in case of pot suspect killed by state dozer – Growing some Weed? We Will Run You Over with a BULLDOZER – KRA
Oh yeah, another costly disaster caused by our looney tune policy called “war on drugs”!
Excerpts from the Article:
The estate of a man who was run over by a bulldozer while being chased by Pennsylvania State Police for illegally growing a handful of pot plants is nearing settlement of its federal wrongful death lawsuit against the state.
Gregory Longenecker, a 51-year-old short-order cook and Grateful Dead fan, had fled into thick brush after being caught growing 10 marijuana plants on public land near Reading. His body was found under the treads of a Pennsylvania Game Commission bulldozer that state police had commandeered in pursuit.
The suit by Longenecker’s family contended that state police and the game commission took “crazy and lethal action” against an unarmed man who posed no threat, then destroyed or withheld evidence to cover it up.
A federal judge overseeing the case has scheduled a settlement conference for next month. The hearing will review “the settlement of the wrongful death … and allocation of settlement proceeds,” according to a Feb. 4 order by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl.
The filing does not include any details about the pending settlement, including the amount to be paid. The state attorney general’s office, which is representing both agencies in court, confirmed Monday that state police and the game commission have reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiff.
The family’s lawyer, Jordan Strokovsky, declined comment on the settlement but said: “We performed a very thorough investigation and the family is pleased with our findings.”
The July 2018 chase developed as Longenecker and his friend tended their pot plants in a small clearing on state game lands. A game commission worker, operating a bulldozer in the area, spotted their car parked in a field where vehicles weren’t allowed and called police.
The friend surrendered, but Longenecker fled, disappearing into the thick vegetation.
State police began a search, and a state police helicopter pilot, hovering overhead, spotted Longenecker in the underbrush. The suit said that state police Cpl. Michael Taylor asked the bulldozer’s operator, Mark Weiss, if he could climb aboard and blaze a trail in Longenecker’s direction. The pair set off on a “machine of death,” the suited said.
A prosecutor who investigated Longenecker’s death concluded that troopers acted reasonably. Authorities have publicly contended that Longenecker was high on methamphetamine, crawled under the back of the bulldozer when it stopped briefly, and was crushed to death when it started moving again and made a left turn.
The lawsuit called that explanation ludicrous, and witness statements cast doubt on the official version of how he got caught under the machine. The chopper pilot said he had Longenecker in view the entire time, noting in his deposition “that it would be impossible for Mr. Longenecker to crawl under the back of the bulldozer before the bulldozer turned left,” the lawsuit said.
The pilot also told authorities that the bulldozer appeared to be “coming in blind” and that he had tried to tell its operator to stop, but his radio wasn’t working, the lawsuit said.
Longenecker’s family asked why state police didn’t simply get a warrant for Longenecker and arrest him later, given they knew his identity and that his crime was relatively minor. An expert in police tactics also questioned why police would use a bulldozer to chase him.
Both sides recently agreed to dismiss Weiss and Taylor from the lawsuit, leaving the state agencies as defendants. Neither agency had any comment Monday.
Open Letter to our Attorney General – Legalize All Drugs – PUBLISHED on 2-9-21 AND on 2-16-21! Oregon just did.
This Letter to the Editor was PUBLISHED today, 2/9/21 on page A 6 of our state’s largest paper, the Wilmington News Journal!
And on page A 4 of The Delaware State News of 2-16-21, the second-largest paper in our state. 🙂
An Open Letter to our Attorney General 2/6/21
My friend, and a friend to anyone interested in justice, Kathy Jennings, is Delaware’s Attorney General, and she is doing a fine job.
However, I have a suggestion: you should vociferously urge an end to America’s disastrous “war on drugs”, and you should urge your fellow Attorneys General to do the same. Why? Because it makes sense.
It will vastly reduce crime, save lives, and save governments tons of money. I recently read another article – huge headline – “How Dover can quell gun violence”. I have read many, often written by well- intentioned relatives of a victim of the senseless tidal wave of violence caused by the storm of our “war on drugs”. All the wrong answers to actually ebb the violence.
They offer valid suggestions: improve the neighborhoods, provide meaningful incentives for a productive life (more jobs), and other cultural changes. They note the availability of the Angel Program, established when I introduced one of our former Chiefs of Police to it several years ago. It offers a safe haven and effective treatment – not arrest – for anyone seeking help to kick drugs. Though successful in other states, it has had a pitiful reception here.
But, as Portugal and other jurisdictions have proven, the real solution is to end the “war on drugs”. Most street violence is drug related; nearly all of it. We are losing our youth to the streets, and so it will be when one can earn more than $1,000 selling drugs on the corner over the weekend, vs working for a month at a fast-food joint.
Oregon recently decriminalized all drugs … a wise first step.
Six year old children slain by a stray bullet. A six year old, Grandma! Americans have been bombarded (brainwashed) with false information about this topic for more than 40 years, so it will take officials like you educating them about the facts to bring about the needed changes. I dare say that taking a very public stance on this issue is the single best way to greatly improve our justice system!
I sent this to Kathy, and her response was, in pertinent part: “I am in favor of legalizing marijuana, which is a critical step in Delaware. “ She doesn’t yet get it about decriminalizing all drugs, but she is a smart lady; in time, she will!
I close with my favorite quote: Alcohol did not create Al Capone; prohibition created Al Capone.
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
Our Readers’ Views AG Jennings, take a hard look at decriminalizing drugs
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings is doing a fine job. She is my friend — and a friend to anyone interested in justice.
However, I have a suggestion: You should vociferously urge an end to America’s disastrous War on Drugs and you should urge your fellow attorneys general to do the same. Why? Because it makes sense.
It will vastly reduce crime, save lives and save governments tons of money. I recently read an article titled ‘How Dover can quell gun violence.’ I have read many articles like this one — they’re often written by well-intentioned relatives of a victim of the senseless tidal wave of violence caused by the storm of our War on Drugs. That war offers all the wrong answers if we actually want to ebb violence in our cities.
These articles often offer valid suggestions: improve urban neighborhoods, provide meaningful incentives for a productive life (more jobs) and other cultural changes. They sometimes note the availability of the Angel Program, established when I introduced one of our former chiefs of police to it several years ago. It offers a safe haven and effective treatment — not arrest — for anyone seeking help to kick drugs. Though successful in other states, it has had a pitiful reception here. But, as Portugal and other jurisdictions that have decriminalized drugs have proven, the real solution is to end the War on Drugs. Nearly all street violence is drug-related. We are losing our youth to the streets — and that’s because one can earn more than $1,000 selling drugs on the corner over the weekend. It would take working for at least a month at a fast-food joint to earn as much.
Oregon recently decriminalized all drugs. That’s a wise first step. But Americans have been with false information about the drug epidemic
for more than 40 years, so it will take officials like you, Attorney General Jennings, educating them about the facts to bring about the needed changes. I dare say that taking a very public stance on this issue is the single best way to greatly improve our justice system.
I’ve been in touch with the attorney general on these thoughts and, in a reply, was this pertinent sentiment: ‘I am in favor of legalizing marijuana, which is a critical step in Delaware.’ She doesn’t yet get it about decriminalizing all drugs, but she is a smart lady. In time, she will.
I close with my favorite quote: ‘Alcohol did not create Al Capone; Prohibition created Al Capone.’
— Ken Abraham, Dover
Your comments anywhere on the internet reach a handful of people. Yes, many are clever, witty, and on point about the asshole in our White House, but HERE IS A MUCH BETTER IDEA for you to promote ANY cause!
YOU! Do what I do, because I have been doing it for years and it works! Everywhere I go people say: “I read your letters all the time.”
YOU will become famous in your area! Famous for telling the truth, for speaking out on important matters, and THAT is no bullshit!
There are soooo many issues you can write about, you easily could send out a letter each month, THEREBY REACHING MILLIONS OF READERS!
Make A Difference
So many say “why bother, there’s nothing I can do!”
Well, I hope one of those is not you!
For you can be far more influential than you think,
All you need do is share some well-thought-out-ink!
READ this article and do what it says; with easy to follow instructions. Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
WRITE A LETTER ABOUT WHATEVER YOU ARE POSTING ABOUT!
Good job, Kathleen, but someone – some of these pushers – should go to prison!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Thursday a $573 million multistate settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Co., resolving investigations into its role in helping opioid manufacturers promote their drugs and profiting from the opioid epidemic.
“These are the first damages Delaware’s recovered from the people responsible for the opioid crisis, but they won’t be the last,” said Ms. Jennings. “McKinsey helped Big Pharma profit — and profited itself — off of thousands of Delawareans’ pain and suffering. “We can never bring back the lives that were lost in Big Pharma’s pursuit of profit, but settlements like this give us the resources to get help to those who are still grappling with the devastation that this epidemic has caused across our state.”
This is the first multistate opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to be used to address the epidemic.
The settlement amount exceeds the total revenue that McKinsey collected from its opioid clients. Delaware will receive just more than $2.58 million from the settlement, which will be used to abate the harms caused by the opioid crisis in the First State.
In addition to providing funds to address the crisis, the agreement calls for McKinsey to prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online.
McKinsey further agreed to stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and Schedule III narcotics, continue its investigation into allegations that two of its partners tried to destroy documents in response to investigations of Purdue Pharma, implement a strict ethics code that all partners must agree to each year and adopt a firm document-retention plan.
Thursday’s filings describe how, for more than a decade, McKinsey’s work promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers — including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma — contributed to the opioid crisis.
Delaware’s complaint details how McKinsey advised Purdue on how to maximize profits from its opioid products, including targeting high-volume opioid prescribers, using specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe more OxyContin to more patients and circumventing pharmacy restrictions to deliver high-dose prescriptions.
When states began to sue Purdue’s directors for their implementation of McKinsey’s marketing schemes, McKinsey partners began emailing about deleting documents and emails related to their work for Purdue.
The opioid epidemic has devastated Delaware over the last 20 years. During this time, drug overdoses claimed thousands of Delawareans’ lives. It’s also driven up costs in health care, child welfare, criminal justice and other programs needed to combat the epidemic.
Thursday’s filing is the latest action Ms. Jennings and the Delaware Department of Justice have taken to combat the opioid epidemic and to hold accountable those who are responsible for creating and fueling the crisis.
The state has also filed complaints against the Sackler family — the billionaires behind Purdue Pharma — and against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.
In the coming weeks, Ms. Jennings will work with partners in Dover to recommend legislation establishing a statewide commission to govern the expenditure of opioid settlement funds.
Once created, the settlement funds will be placed in the care of that commission to direct spending to address Delaware’s opioid crisis.
The attorney general’s opioid enforcement work is a joint effort of the Office of Impact Litigation and the Consumer Protection Unit, both part of DOJ’s Fraud and Consumer Protection Division.
The Whole Story
Opioid Deaths Fall When Cannabis Stores Rise, Analysis Suggests — Can legal marijuana ease the opioid crisis?
This has been known for some time, but it warrants repeating! Though not the front page headlines so much, opioids continue to kill thousands of our kids, sisters, Moms, … every month! Another reason why POT should be legal everywhere.
SEE https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates =
Overdose Death Rates | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Excerpts from the Article:
Access to legal cannabis stores was linked with fewer opioid deaths in the U.S., a new analysis suggested.
The number of marijuana dispensaries in a county was negatively related to log-transformed opioid mortality rate, adjusted for age (β -0.17, 95% CI -0.23 to -0.11), reported Balázs Kovács, PhD, of Yale University School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut, and Greta Hsu, PhD, of University of California Davis Graduate School of Management.
This means that increasing the number of storefront dispensaries from one to two was tied to a 17% reduction in death rates of all opioid types, and an increase from two to three stores was associated with a further 8.5% reduction in mortality, Kovács and Hsu noted.
The relationship was stronger — leading to an estimated 21% drop in mortality — when only deaths from synthetic non-methadone opioids like fentanyl were considered (β -0.21, 95% CI -0.27 to -0.14), they wrote in The BMJ.
“We find this relationship holds for both medical dispensaries, which serve only patients who have a state-approved medical card or doctor’s recommendation, as well as for recreational dispensaries, which sell to adults 21 years and older,” Kovács said.
As business school researchers, Kovács and Hsu first became interested in the increasing prevalence of legal cannabis stores as an organizational issue.
“We tracked evolving cannabis markets across the U.S. from 2014 onwards in an effort to understand how this new category of organizations emerged,” Kovács told MedPage Today. “We realized, however, that our county-level database could also be used to examine whether the availability of legal cannabis in an increasing number of geographic areas has any implications for opioid misuse.”
Their findings add to a mixed evidence base about the relationship between legal marijuana and opioid overdoses. In 2014, an analysis suggested that states with medical cannabis laws experienced slower increases in opioid overdose mortality. However, a subsequent study showed that those findings didn’t hold over a longer period, and that associations between state medical cannabis laws and opioid-related mortality reversed direction and remained positive after accounting for recreational cannabis laws.
Kovács and Hsu based their analysis on data from 812 counties in 23 states (plus the District of Columbia) that allowed legal cannabis dispensaries to operate by the end of 2017. They combined 2014-2018 CDC mortality data with census data and storefront information from Weedmaps, collecting data on dispensaries operating within each county on a monthly basis from 2014 to December 2017. Mortality analysis focused on deaths of people 21 and older.
Eight states and the District of Columbia allowed for recreational storefronts; 15 allowed for medical dispensaries only. An increase from one to two medical dispensaries led to an estimated 15% mortality rate reduction in the study; an increase from one to two recreational dispensaries led to an 11% drop.
Two points about this analysis need to be considered, noted Sameer Imtiaz, PhD, of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research in Toronto, and colleagues, in an accompanying editorial.
First, the mechanism underlying the association is unclear. “In the context of medicinal cannabis legalization, reduced deaths from opioid overdose do not coincide with reduced non-medicinal use of pain relievers or with opioid distribution, defined as the flow of substances from the manufacturers to retail distributors,” they wrote. “The absence of concurrent changes in such opioid-related outcomes questions the premise of substitution.”
Moreover, inferences about individuals cannot be drawn from aggregate-level data in an ecologically designed study like this, the editorialists pointed out. Both harmful and beneficial associations between opioids and cannabis have been seen at the individual level, they observed.
The findings suggest a potential relationship between the increased prevalence of cannabis dispensaries and reduced opioid-related mortality and do not show causality, Kovács emphasized. “While we find a particularly strong association between the prevalence of storefront dispensaries and fentanyl-related opioid deaths, it is not clear whether cannabis use and fentanyl mortality rates are more specifically linked, or if the strength of the association is due to the rise in fentanyl use and mortality rates during the study period,” he said.
Potential harms of cannabis, including the cognitive development of adolescents, medical conditions such as schizophrenia, and public safety risks, should not be ignored, he added.
What is the most dangerous place in the world? Brazil, rife with gangs? Some pockets of America with crime everywhere, fueled by the failure of our “war on drugs”? Nope. The most dangerous is not actually a place at all; it is the internet!
The internet is full of people who are not who they claim to be, what they really look like, etc. … PREDATORS AND PERVERTS. VERY DANGEROUS PEOPLE. The internet is ideal for such deception, and the “bad guys” – and girls – know it!
Nobody really know the number of murder victims who met their killer online, but READ THIS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_homicide = Internet Homicide.
Add to it the burglaries, kidnappings, rapes, thefts, identity thefts, and other crimes committed by internet predators!
Especially young attractive women – but EVERYONE – REMEMBER THAT UNLESS YOU KNOW THEM PERSONALLY THE PERSON ON LINE MAY NOT BE AT ALL WHAT IS PORTRAYED!
Some of these “dupesters” are very, very clever, so watch out what information you give out online!
Back in ’81 or ’82 I had the first Mandatory Minimum case in Delaware, and could see that these laws would be a disaster!
Read: The Highest of Highs – Essay – kra Ron W Mandatory Minimum = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/the-highest-of-highs-essay-kra/
Excerpts from the Article:
Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission recently voted overwhelmingly to endorse legislation stripping all mandatory minimum sentences from state code.
The sweeping proposal, which lawmakers plan to introduce when the General Assembly convenes this week, would eliminate mandatory jail and prison terms attached to 224 offenses that range from drunken driving to child rape.
Lawmakers on the commission who backed the proposal — all Democrats — called it an important step to restore sentencing discretion to local judges and juries. “I think mandatory minimums skew our system,” said Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Hampton, during the Jan. 5 meeting. “We appoint judges to represent their communities and they are on the ground.”
The commission also voted to endorse legislation that would allow some prisoners serving felony mandatory minimum sentences to petition a judge to reconsider their sentence.
The commission’s staff said research on the effectiveness of mandatory minimums is inconclusive, but broadly proponents of the policy argue they deter crime, eliminate inequities in sentencing and guarantee a minimum punishment.
Opponents argue they don’t deter crime, have not actually eliminated sentencing disparities and “inflict a burden on a defendant’s right to trial.”
Most of the mandatory minimum sentences on the books in Virginia address driving while intoxicated, narcotics, child pornography and weapon violations, according to the research undertaken by the State Crime Commission, though they said the offenses make up a relatively small proportion of convictions in any given year, accounting for just 3% of convictions in the past five years.
The commission’s research did find that Black inmates were more likely than white inmates to be serving time on the charges.
About 4,000 prison inmates are currently serving sentences that stemmed only from a charge with a mandatory minimum — most for drug distribution, driving with a revoked license, possessing a firearm after a felony conviction and simple assault on a law enforcement officer.
The commission quickly ruled out considering whether to maintain mandatory minimums on a charge-by-charge basis. “I don’t know how we’re going to decide which ones to keep and which ones not to keep,” said Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke. “You either do it or you don’t do it.”
Only two of 11 members present voted against the proposal. Del. Les Adams, R-Pittsylvania, the only GOP member of the commission, argued that since available research is inconclusive, it isn’t the place of the crime commission to weigh in.
Mandatory minimums have become a focus of advocates pushing for criminal justice reform. Andy Elders, a public defender in Fairfax County who serves on the board of Justice Forward, said prosecutors often use the threat of charges with long mandatory minimum sentences attached to pressure defendants to take plea deals.
“Nothing is more important than the right of accused to say, ‘I didn’t do this and I want my day in court,’” he said.
A group of 12 commonwealth’s attorneys pushing for criminal justice reform, Virginia Progressive Prosecutors, sent a letter to lawmakers Jan. 4 reiterating their support for eliminating mandatory minimums.
The group includes Jim Hingeley of Albemarle County and Joseph Platania of Charlottesville.
“Mandatory minimums prevent judges from taking an individualized, holistic approach to each sentence based on the specific circumstances of a given case,” the group wrote. “They lead to the irrationally lengthy prison sentences that fuel mass incarceration while exacerbating the racial and socioeconomic inequities that have come to characterize our criminal justice system. Banning mandatory minimums will make our communities safer and stem the tide of mass incarceration.”
Republican Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, a former prosecutor, blasted the decision in a statement.
“This is by far the most egregious ‘soft on crime’ proposal yet in the Democrats’ attempts to make life easier on criminals. This proposal to retroactively revisit imposed sentences would drag the victims of rape, assault, child pornography and hate crimes, as well as the families of murder victims, back into court as these criminals are re-sentenced. Victims would face an impossible choice — relive the worst day of their lives once again, or potentially let their tormentors walk free,” Gilbert said, contending that removing mandatory minimums for gun offenses would also “take away a proven tool in actually reducing gun crimes and improving the quality of life in the most dangerous neighborhoods in our commonwealth.”
Another case of prosecutor misconduct. There are far, far too many! I was a prosecutor for five years, and this is not rocket science: THE JOB OF A PROSECUTOR IS TO BE FAIR.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Supreme Court of Washington held a prosecutor committed flagrant and ill-intentioned misconduct by framing a defendant’s prosecution as representative of the war on drugs.
The Court’s opinion was issued in an appeal brought by Gregg A. Loughbom. He was convicted by a jury in October 2018 on two counts: delivery of methamphetamine and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance other than marijuana. He was acquitted on a count of delivery of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. The superior court sentenced Loughbom to 40 months’ prison and 12 months’ community control.
On direct appeal, Loughbom argued that the prosecutor’s repeated comments about the war on drugs constituted flagrant and ill-intentioned misconduct. Although it found those repeated statements set the tone for the entire trial, the Court of Appeals found Loughbom was not denied a fair trial. The Washington Supreme Court granted review.
“Justice can be secured only when a conviction is based on specific evidence in an individual case and not on rhetoric,” the Court wrote in beginning its analysis in review of Loughbom’s appeal. “We do not convict to make an example of the accused, we do not convict by appeal to a popular cause, and we do not convict by tying a prosecution to a global campaign against illegal drugs,” the Court admonished.
At Loughbom’s one-day trial, the prosecutor asked during jury selection about the “drug problem in Lincoln County.” During opening and closing statements, he said Loughbom’s case represented “another battle in the ongoing war on drugs.” He similarly referenced the “ongoing war on drugs” during his rebuttal argument.
Noting that the issue of prosecutorial references to the war on drugs had not yet been addressed by the Washington Supreme Court, the Court looked at four Court of Appeals decisions and several federal court decisions that found such “similar rhetoric improper” (see opinion for case citations). While those cases were not controlling, the Court found them persuasive. It joined those courts “in rejecting ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric” by the prosecutor during arguments.
Because Loughbom did not object at trial to the prosecutor’s repeated references, he was “deemed to have waived any error, unless the prosecutor’s misconduct was so flagrant and ill-intentioned that an instruction could not have cured the resulting prejudice.” State v. Emery, 278 P.3d 653 (Wash. 2012). Reversal is granted for such misconduct only “in a narrow set of cases where we were concerned about the jury drawing improper inferences from the evidence.” In re Pers. Restraint of Phelps, 410 P.3d 1142 (Wash. 2018).
The prosecutor’s rhetoric, the Court found, “was practiced and strategically employed at both ends of Loughbom’s trial.” Even the Court of Appeals found the prosecutor used the war on drugs as “theme.” The Washington Supreme Court stated that remarks that come at the beginning of opening statements and closing arguments must be understood as “a prism through which the jury should view the evidence.”
The State argued that the prosecutor’s comments, “while ill advised, were exceedingly benign,” were “made with reasonable intentions,” and “were well within the acceptable bounds of argument by a prosecutor.” The Court, however, explained that a prosecutor’s “‘reasonable intentions’ are irrelevant because we do not assess a prosecutor’s subjective intent when deciding whether error occurred.” It concluded that “repeated appeals to the war on drugs do not fall within the bounds of appropriate argument that this court has established.”
Thus, the Court found the prejudice from the prosecutor’s comments deprived Loughbom of a fair trial that could not have been cured by an instruction after an objection. The jury was primed to view the trial through the prism of the “drug problem in Lincoln County.” Then, two of the three comments about the war on drugs occurred in closing arguments. “[B]y that point it would have been too late to negate the prejudice that built up over the single-day trial,” according to the Court.
Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision and ordered a new trial. See: State v. Loughbom, 470 P.3d 499 (Wash. 2020)
Study: Medical Marijuana Treatment Associated with Significant Declines in the Use of Opioids at Six Months
Another of many reasons to LEGALIZE pot!
Excerpts from the Article:
The use of medical cannabis by qualified patients over a six-month period is associated with significant decreases in the use of prescription opioids and other medications, according to data published in the journal Pain Medicine.
Investigators with the University of Victoria in Vancouver assessed prescription drug use patterns over a six-month period in a cohort of 1,145 authorized medical cannabis patients.
Researchers reported that 28 percent of subjects acknowledged using opioid medications at the initiation of the trial. This fell to 11 percent six months later. Participants’ mean opioid dosage fell by 78 percent over the trial period – a finding consistent with prior studies.
Researchers also reported declines in subjects’ use of prescription anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-seizure medications. Prior studies have similarly reported declines in patients use of benzodiazepines and other prescription medications following the initiation of medical cannabis.
Study subjects also reported improvements in their overall quality of life, including changes in their physical and psychological health, over the course of the trial.
Authors concluded, “The high rate of cannabis use for chronic pain and the subsequent reductions in opioid use suggest that cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the opioid overdose crisis, potentially improving the quality of life of patients and overall public health.”
Full text of the study, “Cannabis significantly reduces the use of prescription opioids and improves quality of life in authorized patients: Results of a large prospective study,” appears in Pain Medicine. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.”
Free all non-violent criminals jailed on minor drug offences, say experts – End our Ludicrous “War on Drugs” – kra
This article was sent to me by our friend, Lynn, who knows that I have been saying this for years!
Excerpts from the Article:
Non-violent offenders serving time for drug use or possession should be freed immediately and their convictions erased, according to research published in the peer-reviewed The American Journal of Bioethics.
More than 60 international experts including bioethicists, psychologists and drug experts have joined forces to call for an end to the war on drugs which they argue feeds racism.
All drugs currently deemed illicit – even crack cocaine and heroin – should be decriminalized as a matter of urgency, according to this new alliance. Legalisation and regulation should then follow with restrictions on age, advertising and licensing, they say.
They have analysed evidence from over 150 studies and reports, concluding that prohibition unfairly affects Black people, damages communities, and violates the right to life as illustrated by the killing of medical worker Breonna Taylor in March 2020.
“The ‘war on drugs’ has explicitly racist roots and continues to disproportionately target certain communities of color,” say lead study authors Brian D. Earp from the University of Oxford and Jonathan Lewis from Dublin City University.
“Drug prohibition and criminalization have been costly and ineffective since their inception. It’s time for these failed policies to end.
“The first step is to decriminalize the personal use and possession of small amounts of all drugs currently deemed to be illicit, and to legalize and regulate cannabis. Policymakers should pursue these changes without further delay.”
Their research adds to growing calls for drug policy reform at a time of renewed focus on injustices faced by Black people, and cannabis legalisation for recreational use by a growing list of US states.
The study is based on evidence from existing research into how drug prohibition affects users, communities and human rights, and the impact of decriminalisation by governments.
The authors found that prohibition motivates individuals to commit offences such as burglaries to fund their habit. This lowers life expectancy because people end up in prison, and triggers a ‘multitude’ of health-related costs from unsafe drug use.
Communities are damaged by illicit markets which undermine drug purity, with Black and Hispanic men more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. The war on drugs makes people more vulnerable to violations of their rights including what they choose to put in their bodies.
In contrast, the study highlights the liberal approach of countries such as Portugal where drug-related deaths have fallen and where users are encouraged to seek treatment.
An estimated £43.5bn ($58bn) could be generated in federal, state and local tax revenues through the legalization of drugs, according to the findings. This compares with an annual federal, state and local spend of more than £35bn ($47bn) on prohibition.
The authors stress that non-violent prisoners found with a small amount of illegal substances should be released.