Lewis Carrol, the author who wrote the iconic book, Alice in Wonderland, wrote about the trial of the thief of the Queen’s tarts. I have read this portion of the book to many a jury, reminding them of how important and cherished a trial by jury has been and continues to be.
Yet in Oakland County in Medical Marijuana Cases, it doesn’t feel that way. While it pains me to say it, a meaningful jury trial in a medical marijuana case seems the last thing that the Oakland County powers-that-be want to allow to happen. But, if you know me, you know that I am not a conspiracy theorists. I have never believed that men on the proverbial “grassy knoll” are behind the major events in our life and history. But, in Oakland County, something is not right.
The Right to a Trial by a Jury of One’s Peers
I have lived my professional life in and around a simple phrase . . . “the right to a trial by jury.” I have found that in the end, the greatest and truest check and balance on government abuse and excess has been the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers. No matter the circumstances, case, prosecutor, jurisdiction and topic, the right to have fellow citizens judge the government was a necessary safety hatch and valve that I advised clients they could rely on:
The Right To A Trial By Jury
I have waited for months to stand in the well of a courtroom in Oakland County and argue a medical marijuana case to a jury. It should be easy to get to that point considering that the Sixth Amendment guarantees us a right to such a trial. In the past, it only took me saying, “We’d like a jury trial date, your Honor” to get there. Request, set date, show up for trial date . . . that was the formula.
I did that yesterday in a Medical Marijuana case, the Waterford Dispensary Case to be specific, but like when I frustratingly keep typing my password into an email account or computer but it doesn’t work, my words, “I want a jury in this medical marijuana case” didn’t work.
Was I speaking clearly? I said it louder and slower . . . making sure that I didn’t slur my words.
I just want a jury of twelve people to decide this medical marijuana case.
Still nothing happened . . . maybe I wasn’t speaking loudly enough. Sometimes some lawyers took too softly. So I uttered it again, I said it a bit louder this time.
I WANT TWELVE PEOPLE TO DECIDE THIS MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE
I continued to try and make my point. Standing. Louder. Alternating the tone of my voice. Still nothing . . . no jury trial set. To the contrary, the Court and prosecutor looked at me like I was speaking a foreign tongue. In Medical Marijuana cases, I apparently was.
Here is what is happening and it is alarming: in each and every Medical Marijuana Case, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office files a request to prohibit the accused from 1) arguing a medical marijuana defense to a jury, 2) presenting a medical marijuana defense to a jury and 3) even mentioning the words “Medical Marijuana.” AND? The judges are doing it.
Rather than let us actually get in front of a jury and present our defense in which the words medical marijuana are being uttered, stated or repeated, the prosecutor’s are fighting like mad to stop us from even saying those words let alone calling witnesses and the Oakland County bench are agreeing with them!!! This is scary, wrong, dangerous and offensive.
The prosecutors and judges speak to one another about “prior rulings” and “prior decisions” in “other cases” and they know what they are talking about – - when there were no prior decisions in this case. Here is a dialogue that actually took place yesterday:
Prosecutor: I am filing a motion in limine to keep out medical marijuana and if I understand your honor’s prior rulings, and your honor follows the same reasoning, which I assume it will, this trial could be very short.
Me: What prior rulings? There haven’t been any prior rulings in this case.
Court: No. But I’ve had other medical marijuana cases and I’ve ruled a certain way and those rulings have all been affirmed or at least were upheld or the same logic was upheld in the appeals court and they’re more conservative than me.
Prosecutor: I assume that the Court will follow the same rulings of course if it doesn’t than we may appeal.
Me: WHAT AUTHORITY, LEGAL OR OTHERWISE, DO YOU HAVE TO STOP ME FROM PUTTING ON MY CASE TO A JURY? I WANT 12 PEOPLE TO DECIDE THIS MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE.
Court: If I determine that you don’t meet the rules for the defense, than you its not a medical marijuana case. I won’t even let you utter those two (2) words, medical marijuana.
I felt like the kid that showed up for a party in swim clothes and flip flops but when I arrived everyone else was wearing formalwear. No trial date was set. I can see the writing on the wall…the prosecutor’s office and courts are in lockstep over keeping us from arguing these medical marijuana cases to juries. They want it all done nice and neatly argued in their motion pleadings — they can kill the defenses quietly that way.
I am fighting but I am just one man. I’m not a patient. I’m not a caregiver. I’m a lawyer who is fighting to make your vote count. It will only count if you help me fight to get these cases to juries.
Juries . . . Meaningful jury trials where the words medical marijuana are uttered, repeated, examined, argued. That kind of trial.
That’s what I wanted a date for yesterday. I didn’t get one.