Safe Access Railroaded by DA Dumanis in San Diego

By: Eugene Davidovich

SAN DIEGO – On Tuesday, September 28, 2010 in the second medical marijuana trial of Jovan Jackson, San Diego District Attorney (DA) Bonnie Dumanis, through her Deputy DA Chris Lindberg, was successful in manipulating the law as it is written to the point where all jurors in the Jackson case had no choice but to return a guilty verdict.

At 2pm on Tuesday, San Diego Americans for Safe Access received word from Lance Rogers, Jackson’s defense attorney that the jury had reached a decision. The word was quickly spread throughout the community and within minutes, Jackson’s supporters were in court ready to stand by him.

The courtroom quickly filled up with supporters, the media and at least ten representatives from the DA’s office, including Paul Levikow the DA’s public relations head. At least twelve bailiffs were also dispatched to the courtroom and spread throughout in a show of force and intimidation at the supporters, and to make sure when the verdict was read there would be no emotional outbursts of any kind.

At 3:30pm, all the Jurors were seated and the court called to order. The clerk was handed a stack of papers by the Judge and asked to read the verdict. “In the case of People v. Jovan Jackson, we find the defendant, Guilty,” the court’s clerk stated with no emotion.

As those words were uttered, the silence in the room was deafening and the two minutes that the clerk took to read all the forms, seemed to last a lifetime. Even the DA’s gathered in the room were speechless and sitting with jaws dropped, not knowing how to react.

The clerk proceeded to read the verdicts reached and as the word ‘guilty’ was repeated in each count tears could be seen in the eyes of the majority of the people gathered in the courtroom. Several people became so overwhelmed with emotion that they had to excuse themselves. Even several of the jurors could be seen wiping tears away as the verdict was being read.

The Deputy DA’s gathered to watch this injustice all sat quietly trying hard to conceal their joy and excitement at the decision. Mr. Levikow however, could not resist. He turned around in his seat with delight each time the word ‘guilty’ was uttered by the clerk and each time gave a smirk and a long and demeaning stare at the supporters.

After the verdict was read, Judge Shore told the jurors that their work had been completed and that they could now be excused. Before the jurors left however, Judge Shore added that the attorneys in the case had a few questions for them and asked them to stick around and a give a post verdict interview if they wished. The interview was conducted outside of the presence of the public with just about all of the jurors staying behind to talk to the attorneys.

Following the post verdict interview, the public found out that the jurors unanimously said “we wanted to find a way to let Jackson go, but could not”.

The jurors explained that the jury instructions they were given, contained no defense for possession for sale or sales; the very portion that was redacted away by the prosecutor and Judge Shore.

Aside from looking for a way to find Jackson not guilty, the jurors all said that although they did not agree with the law as it was given to them, that they still had to respect it, as Judge Shore ordered them to only consider the law that was written in the Jury Instructions.

So who convicted Jackson, a jury of twelve peers, Judge Howard Shore, or Bonnie Dumanis herself?

“In retrospect, after hearing the jury wanted to acquit him in this case, if one were to consider Dumanis’ long history of erroneous convictions, and how much courthouse bullying Jovan’s jury and supporters felt during this trial, it’s very possible Judge Shore himself was in real fear of being the fifth judge to be boycotted by DA Dumanis had he not played along with all the prosecutors motions and ignored established state law” said Marcus Boyd of San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “It’s hard to believe a Superior Court Judge would overtly railroad a defendant in such a way without genuine fear. Jovan’s last judge, Judge Bashaunt, was sitting on her last Superior Court case and had nothing to fear from DA Dumanis, therefore Jovan was quickly and correctly acquitted of all marijuana charges”.

After the jury interviews were completed, the public was let back into the courtroom for a sentencing discussion.

As the judge took the bench and began to talk about sentencing, everyone in the courtroom was expecting the worse, that Jackson would be remanded into custody right then and there. Fortunately, and to the surprise of the prosecution, Judge Shore realized that Jackson had not missed a single court date and had every intention of coming to court for sentencing. In light of this, Jackson was allowed to stay out on his current bail pending the actually sentencing date of October 27, 2010, 9am when Judge Shore will impose a sentence.

Jackson along with his supporters walked out of the courtroom to face a flurry of reporters asking him for a statement.

Mr. Jackson agreed to speak with the media, and proceeded to give a very touching, heartfelt speech. Jackson thanked his friends, family, supporters, and Americans for Safe Access in their assistance and support in the case. He went on to talk about how important it is to stand up to the unjust ways of the San Diego District Attorney. Jackson expressed his disappointment at the verdict and vowed that he would continue to fight for his rights and appeal this case to a higher court. He also said he felt “pity and anger” for the prosecution pursuing criminal charges against medical marijuana defendants and continuing to harass legitimate medical marijuana providers and patients in San Diego.

“By refusing him a defense, the District Attorney and the court has railroaded Jackson and ensured his conviction,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who submitted the amicus ‘friend of the court’ brief in support of Jackson prior to his trial. “Jackson was denied a fair trial,” Elford continued. “His conviction and the basis on which the court relied in refusing him a defense — that sales are illegal under state law — should absolutely be appealed.”

Has the DA now found a road-map to conviction for all dispensaries?

Many argue that as a result of this verdict, Dumanis has now discovered a road map to follow in convicting all medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. Under her “new and skewed” interpretation of the law, the only way patients qualify for a medical marijuana defense in state court is if they all with sleeves rolled up, plow the fields and grow the actual medicine that they are being dispensed. This results in a true absurdity and surely was not the intent of the voters when they passed Proposition 215.

Now, in order to avoid the possibility of criminal prosecution, wheelchair bound, sick, and disabled patients all will have to find a way to plow the fields together and cannot simply contribute financially to the effort by coming in and purchasing a small amount at their local dispensary.

This skewed and incorrect interpretation will not stand for long. The community is cautiously optimistic that the court of appeals will quickly take this case on and see to it that Judge Shore’s error in this case is reversed, and that true justice is served once and for all.

Further Information:

ASA Press Release about Jackson Verdict:

San Diego grand jury recommendations on medical marijuana:

Amicus brief filed by ASA in support of Jovan Jackson:

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