San Diego District Attorney Dumanis Focused on Victimizing Patients and Ignoring Exculpatory Evidence in Medical Marijuana Cases

By Terrie Best – San Diego ASA

March 11, 2015

San Diego, CA – Legal medical cannabis patients Mark Gillingham, Jeff Russell and Deviyon Carter were in court today to suffer a preliminary exam at the hands of a San Diego prosecutor in a medical cannabis cultivation case. All three men are patients, have doctor recommendations and are entitled to collectively cultivate cannabis together under the Compassionate Use Act and Senate Bill 420. Still, they were brought before a judge and forced to defend the protection rights afforded to them by law.

Unfortunately, The Honorable Eugenia Eyeherabide failed badly in protecting those rights today, making several questionable statements, rolling her eyes and grumbling. As is often the case, the trio was bound over for trial mostly because the police investigators refused to gather evidence that showed compliance with the CUA and SB420; the prosecutors refuse to look at evidence provided to them to show compliance and a judge ignored all of this misconduct. It becomes quite clear, the District Attorney’s Office does not want to see justice served, they simply want to win and the courts give way to this attitude to the determinate of citizens.

The prosecution’s first and only witness was San Diego Police Department Detective Albert Macawili. The detective described his training as a narcotic officer and took us through the raid of the Gillingham property. The officers claimed to have found 500 plants and estimated a value of 1 million dollars. The raid team strictly noted the plants, took pictures of safes and grow equipment but failed to observe the patient recommendations posted throughout the grow areas. In the subsequent investigation, the DA’s office has refused to consider all medical marijuana evidence as well.

Officer Macawili asserted his investigation was of illegally grown marijuana and he knew this by observing these facts: the amount of marijuana was too high to be possessed for medical distribution, there was cash and packaging on site, the defendants used surveillance equipment as if they feared robbery. Defense attorney’s Rachel Scoma for Jeff Russell, Peter Will for Deviyon Carter and Mark Bluemel for Gillingham all pointed out in cross examine that none of these indicators single out an illegal grow operation from a legal one. In a telling admonishment, the judge told the defense it is not the job of the police to determine legality.

When asked by Mark Bluemel what makes a legal grow legal, Macawili said being a documented caregiver or having a list of patients you provide for would point to legality. He did not ask for any of that from the defendants at the scene, however.

Rachel Scoma questioned how the detective could have examined the contents of her client’s wallet and overlooked his medical marijuana card inside. Macawili was not able to explain that either.

After the prosecution rested, Rachel Scoma called Patricia Russell, Jeff’s mom who testified to her son’s medical condition and how cannabis helped him. There was no cross examination of Mrs. Russell by the prosecution.

In a rambling diatribe, Judge Eyeherabide denied all the defense motions, the patients will be arraigned on March 25th and will go to trial. This judge was troubling, she exhibited bias in her remarks and in her body language. She sighed deeply when conversing with the defense, showed a lack of self control and rattled off her statements at the end in a manner that distracted from her points. Unprofessional was what came to mind.

Watching the waste and destruction of property and lives in courts highlights the need for legislation on all levels. Please visit ASA’s website to see how you can get involved and follow state and federal bills this legislative session. Without more protections, patients continue to find themselves in courts and tax payers will foot the bill.

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