------------------------------------------------------------------- Case should give Ninth Amendment new life (An op-ed in the Oregonian by Randy E. Barnett, a former prosecutor and Boston University law professor, says the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative deserves to win its appeal Tuesday to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Oakland's brief argues that the people have reserved the power to enact popular initiatives. When the people pass an initiative protecting a particular liberty, judges should respect this unenumerated liberty as they would an enumerated right. In other words, the initiative process enables the voters of each state to decide themselves if a liberty is fundamental, rather than leave that decision solely to judges. While popular initiatives that restrict personal or economic liberties should be given the same constitutional scrutiny as any other state law, the people who approved medical marijuana ballot measures in California, Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington decided to protect a liberty.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sun, Apr 11 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Randy E. Barnett, a former prosecutor, is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a Boston University law professor and author of "The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law." Case should give Ninth Amendment new life State marijuana effort provides court strong test case for rights On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will help determine the future of the Ninth Amendment when it hears oral argument in the case of Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative v. United States. The amendment, long ignored by the courts, reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Fortunately, the City of Oakland, in a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the cooperative, offers the court a "safe and effective" way to revive this provision, a practical way that can be embraced by both liberals and conservatives. In November 1996, California voters passed the Medical Marijuana Initiative, which allowed patients to grow and use marijuana when a doctor recommended such treatment. The Oakland co-op was one of several dispensaries formed to provide marijuana under the initiative, but the Clinton administration brought suit to shut this experiment down, claiming that even such medical use violates federal law. Who should win? The conventional answer argued by the government's lawyers is that federal law trumps the right declared by the people's vote and that's that. Washington wins; the voters of California lose. Next case. But what about the Ninth Amendment's protection of unenumerated rights? Oakland's brief argues that the people have reserved the power to enact popular initiatives. When the people pass an initiative protecting a particular liberty, judges should respect this unenumerated liberty as they would an enumerated right. In other words, the initiative process enables the voters of each state to decide themselves if a liberty is fundamental, rather than leave that decision solely to judges. While popular initiatives that restrict personal or economic liberties should be given the same constitutional scrutiny as any other state law, in California (Prop 215), Alaska (Prop 8), Arizona (Prop 300), Nevada (Question 9), Oregon (Measure 67) and Washington (Initiative 692) the people decided to protect a liberty. When deciding whether such a liberty is fundamental, federal judges are required by an appropriate judicial conservatism to respect the people's judgment. Government can still restrict marijuana use. The language means only the federal government would have the burden of establishing that its current prohibition on medical marijuana is truly "necessary" (which it has yet to do) and showing that such a prohibition is "proper" or within one of its enumerated powers. Does this mean that, if the people of the states voted to protect the liberty to use recreational drugs, or view child pornography, the courts should defer to their judgment? The simple answer is yes, though it is hard to imagine a successful initiative on behalf of child pornography. And that is one reason why the initiative process is such a practical "conservative" way to identify fundamental unenumerated rights. Courts have, with rare exception, been reluctant to use the Ninth Amendment in large measure for fear of opening a Pandora's box of alleged rights. This judicial neglect of the Ninth Amendment could end, however, if the Ninth Circuit simply recognizes the people's initiative power to designate fundamental liberties, thereby shifting the burden of proof onto the federal government to show that restrictions on liberty are both necessary and proper.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Harsh sentences chop crime (A letter to the editor of the Oregonian reveals the ignorance of a man who is unfamiliar with the arrest rates for marijuana offenses and other basic aspects of the history of drug prohibition in America.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sun, Apr 11 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Steve Schopp, Tualatin (a suburb of Portland) Note: Bracket in first graf is the newspaper's LTE: Harsh sentences chop crime Michael Litt's March 31 letter is history repeating itself. He suggests that fines, community service and drug-treatment programs should replace incarceration [for nonviolent people convicted of drug offenses]. Where have you been, Mr. Litt? That soft approach over the past 30 years led to a soaring crime rate that mandatory sentencing is correcting. Yes, prison populations are at an all-time high, but is Litt unaware of the successful reduction in crime? It might surprise some, but many people who use and/or deal in drugs also commit burglary, robbery, check fraud, auto theft and assault. The full extent of damage and the cost of crime is rarely observed or reported. There is no dispute that crime and its cost to our communities is being reduced by mandatory sentencing. I believe additional mandatory sentencing would be an effective weapon against drunken driving. The habitual offenders would learn a successful lesson. Do the crime, do the time. You can't drive intoxicated in an uninsured car and with a suspended license from a previous offense if you are locked in a cell.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cigarette-maker knew of danger (Another letter to the editor of the Oregonian defends the recent decision of a Portland jury to award a record $80.3 million to the family of a dead former smoker. Despite tort law, which clearly holds smokers personally responsible for the risks they take, the author contends Philip Morris also breached its responsibilities, negating Jesse Williams' responsibility and making the company - in reality, current tobacco consumers - liable for damages. The author claims "cigarettes are the only consumer product that, when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer, addicts, sickens and kills," which would seem to ignore substances such as alcohol and a number of FDA-approved and doctor-prescribed medicines.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sun, Apr 11 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Joseph Weller, Hillsboro (a suburb of Portland) LTE: Cigarette-maker knew of danger Those who object to the recent decision against Philip Morris miss the point about personal responsibility. Yes, Jesse Williams made a choice to smoke, and for that he paid a dear price. But what of the personal and corporate responsibility of those at Philip Morris? This cigarette giant continued to reap huge profits decades after it knew its product was inherently defective. Further, officials lied, lobbied against reasonable controls, bought off politicians, threatened ex-employees, conducted focus-group testing with children, encouraged bootlegging and in general behaved despicably. They had a tough job. After all, cigarettes are the only consumer product that, when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer, addicts, sickens and kills. Philip Morris manufactures, promotes and sells a product it knows to be deadly. It is the company's personal responsibility that was on trial in Portland, and the jury correctly decided that Philip Morris must be held responsible for its actions.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Movement On 215 - In the Courts and the Capitals, the Case is Made for Medical Marijuana (Orange County Register columnist Alan W. Bock examines the federal and state developments that are converging in ways that could lead to dramatic break-throughs in the medical marijuana movement. On the federal front, the Institute of Medicine Report released March 17 shows that marijuana shouldn't remain a Schedule 1 controlled substance. On the state front, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer was elected to enforce California law. Barry McCaffrey and Janet Reno are appointed federal officials attempting to nullify a law put into place by the people of California. Lockyer's loyalty should be to the people who elected him and voted for Prop. 215. The federal government had every opportunity to challenge Prop. 215 in court. It chose not to do so. To try to nullify it by administrative fiat is despicable. Bock also reviews several pending court cases that could lead to reform, including Jon Gettman's rescheduling petition.) Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 19:33:41 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Movement On 215 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: Sun, 11 April 1999 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Author: Alan W.Bock - Mr.Bock is the Register's senior editorial writer and columnist. He has been following and studying the War on Drugs and its various aspects for twenty years. MOVEMENT ON 215 IN THE COURTS AND THE CAPITALS, THE CASE IS MADE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA More than two years after California voters passed the medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 215 - now Section 11362.5 of the state's Health and Safety Code - the law still has not been implemented. Despite the desire of voters in California and elsewhere to make marijuana available to people whose doctors believe they could benefit from it, patients in California - especially if they prefer not to use the black market - face constant risk from law enforcement. People like David Herrick and Marvin Chavez in Orange County have gone to jail for trying to implement Prop. 215 in their own ad hoc fashion. But the times may be changing. Federal and state developments are converging in ways that could make for reasonably dramatic break-throughs in the medical marijuana movement. For starters, the state's top law enforcement officer and de facto leader on the matter is Attorney General Bill Lockyer. He supported Prop. 215 during his campaign and wants to implement it, though he reports continuing intransigence at the federal level. Any rationale for federal stubbornness, however, was undermined by a report, released in March, from the government's Institute of Medicine, which summarized and evaluated current scientific evidence on medical uses for marijuana. The report was ordered by federal "drug czar" Gen. Barry McCaffrey. In what seems to have been a surprise to McCaffrey, the report noted several current and potential medical uses for the plant. Meanwhile, a petition asking that marijuana be taken off the Drug Enforcement Administration "schedule" reserved for uniquely dangerous drugs with no known medical uses, is wending its way through the federal bureaucracy and will be ripe for action soon. That would free states and others to better study the plant and its effects. And a lawsuit challenging the authority of the federal government to nullify state laws on medical marijuana should see court action within a few months. Here's how those seemingly disparate events are coming together - and what they could mean for medicinal use of marijuana in the future. ON THE LEGAL FRONT On the legal front the news is decidedly mixed. Some patients who have been arrested have managed to avoid jail and Placer County authorities may have bitten off more than they could chew when they arrested 1998 Libertarian Party candidate for governor, Steve Kubby, and his wife Michele for drug trafficking. David Herrick of San Bernardino and Marvin Chavez of Santa Ana, two early leaders of the Orange County Patient Doctor Nurse Support Group, are in jail, although their convictions on sales and distribution charges are being appealed. A third local activist, Jack Schachter of Garden Grove, also faces criminal charges. In Los Angeles both Todd McCormick and Peter McWilliams face federal charges for growing marijuana in quantities larger than deemed suitable by authorities. McCormick was the "Bell Air mansion" grower, a certified patient who had more than a thousand plants in his rented house, claiming he was growing so many for research purposes, to see if different strains had different effects on different illnesses and conditions. McWilliams, a long-time publisher and author ("Ain't Nobody's Business of You Do," Prelude Press) told authorities he had set McCormick up in the house to do research (results are on McWilliams' website, at www.petertrial.com). No good deed goes unpunished. McWilliams, who used marijuana to counter the "wasting syndrome" associated with AIDS, was arrested as a drug "kingpin." McWilliams was released on bail (his brother and mother mortgaged their houses to cover the $250,000) but one of the conditions of bail is that he's not allowed to use marijuana - though he has recommendations from four different physicians - and he's drug-tested regularly. So the court battle means he can't use the medicine he and his doctors believe is prolonging, perhaps even saving his life. He has filed an urgent appeal to allow him to do so before his case comes to trial, now scheduled for September. In San Diego, Steve McWilliams (no relation) has just completed a promising plea-bargain with the San Diego district attorney. He was arrested for distribution as he and a friend were bringing a plant to a paraplegic patient. He pleaded guilty to a single count and got probation. He will be allowed to run his growing facility in downtown San Diego and will work with police to develop procedures for acceptable cultivation. Unlike some of the "cannabis clubs" that have been formally closed, Steve McWilliams does no distribution. He simply has a place where patients, with a doctor's recommendation, can bring their own seeds or plants and get help, advice and some sense of security as they grow. THE KUBBY CASE The case that has attracted the most publicity statewide involves Steve Kubby and his wife, Michele, in Tahoe City. Steve Kubby played a role in getting Prop. 215 passed and was the Libertarian Party candidate for governor in 1998. During the campaign he told audiences up and down the state about his diagnosis of adrenal cancer more than 20 years ago, and his conviction that marijuana had somehow kept the cancer (almost always fatal in six months), in remission and helped to control his high blood pressure. He had a signed recommendation from a licensed physician. In January more than a dozen armed officers from the local-federal-state North Tahoe Task Force barged into the Kubbys' rented house. They found more than a hundred marijuana plants in various basement rooms - but they also found recommendations from physicians for both Steve and Michele (who has a funny-sounding but extremely debilitating condition known as irritable bowel syndrome) and copies of the protocols and guidelines worked out by the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club, which had worked closely with city officials before the feds closed it down. No matter. After consultation with the DA's office both Kubbys were arrested and taken to jail (fortunately a neighbor was able to take care of their 2-year-old daughter). They are charged with conspiracy, cultivation trafficking, distribution and possession of other illegal drugs. Their trial confirming date is April 26; the trial could begin in May or June. The local district attorney has made their conviction a personal crusade. Steve Kubby thinks his position is strong. He built his "growroom" according to guidelines developed for the Oakland club, which in turn are based on the quantities of marijuana the federal government supplies (at tax-Payers' expense) to the eight patients who received authorization in the early 1980s. Federal patients get seven pounds a year and the Kubbys had enough plants, they say, to produce seven pounds of marijuana bud over the course of half a year for the two of them. They plan to produce expert witnesses and medical authorities who will discuss the relationship between marijuana and adrenal cancer. The Kubbys have told me they didn't sell, give away or in any way distribute marijuana, and so far the prosecutors have not produced evidence that they did. So under Sec. 11362.5 they should have been immune from prosecution. THE LOCKYER TASK FORCE As various court cases move forward, there is also movement - we'll see if it's progress - on the official front. Attorney General Bill Lockyer has appointed a medical marijuana task force headed by state Sen. John Vasconcellos of San Jose, also and early supporter of 215. The task force, co-chaired by Santa Clara District Attorney George Kennedy, includes enforcement officers, cannabis providers, doctors and other interested parties (although there's no medical marijuana patient, an inexcusable omission) has met twice but is not likely to offer a program until its next meeting in May. It has discussed numerous ideas, from a voluntary patient identification system, guidelines for possession and cultivation (possibly a statewide standard for how many plants a patient can cultivate) and the creation of a legal supply system. The task force's job has been complicated by the federal government's intransigent attitude toward state medical marijuana laws. When Lockyer visited with "drug czar" Barry McCaffrey and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in March, Lockyer told reporters that "both were very clear that medical marijuana use violates federal laws," and that McCaffrey suggested that a years-long period of research would be needed before that status would change. In fact, McCaffrey told Lockyer that if Lockyer sponsored research in California that Lockyer believes is authorized by California law, he would be risking arrest. In my discussions with people in Lockyer's office, I haven't heard that Lockyer called the bully's bluff, telling him that if federal officers came to arrest him there would be TV cameras and he would see him in court. Instead, Lockyer's comments were to the effect that California would have to move to get procedures and protocols in place so it would be prepared if and when the federal government moved to change the legal status of marijuana at the federal level. That's difficult to understand. Lockyer was elected by the people of California to enforce California's laws. Barry McCaffrey and Janet Reno are appointed federal officials attempting to nullify a law put into place by the people of California. Lockyer's loyalty should lie with the people who elected him and voted for Prop. 215. The federal government had every opportunity to challenge Prop. 215 in court. It chose not to do so. To try to nullify it by administrative fiat is despicable. FEDERAL LAW AND SCIENCE There are reasons to believe that if Locker took a firmer position with the federal government he would be on solid legal ground. A compelling case can be made that the federal government's policies toward marijuana, and particularly medical marijuana, are in violation of federal law. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 sets out "schedules" with progressively tighter regulations and distribution rules for various drugs. The criteria for Schedule I, drugs that may not legally be prescribed by doctors or dispensed by pharmacists, are as follows: "(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision." That's what the law says. According to the Institute of Medicine Report released March 17 - commissioned by "drug czar" McCaffrey hoping it would support his view that "there is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows smoked marijuana is useful or needed" - marijuana doesn't fit any of those criteria. It shouldn't be on Schedule I. More specifically, the report (available at www.nap.edu/readingroom/books) noted that "Although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do," and that while "a distinctive marijuana withdrawal syndrome has been identified, it is mild and short-lived." So much for (A). The report also concluded: "Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabiniod drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation." So much for (B). And it concluded that "except for the harms associated with smoking [some respiratory problems have been documented and smoke from the plant does contain carcinogens, though the report noted there are no known cases of cancer attributable to marijuana smoking] the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications." So much for (C) Therefore, according to the report McCaffrey commissioned, there is no justification for keeping marijuana on Schedule I. In fact, it is illegal under federal law to keep it there. It is the Drug Enforcement Administration, McCaffrey and Reno who are breaking the law. Bill Lockyer should tell them so and challenge them to see him in court. TWO IMPORTANT LAWSUITS There is a less confrontational course available. John Gettman of Virginia filed a petition in 1995 to have marijuana rescheduled at the federal level, raising safety and risk issues rather than the medical efficacy issues that had been rejected in previous administrative proceedings. Gettman's petition is ripe for action by the Department of Health and Human Services. Lockyer should endorse it and urge swift action to bring federal policy in line with the Institute of Medicine's findings. In addition, another lawsuit, drafted by life extension scientists Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw along with doctors in several states and several medical research organizations, is currently before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It contends that federal officials lack the constitutional authority to nullify state medical-marijuana laws in California and elsewhere. Such dictates violate physicians' First Amendment free speech rights, and the right of the state under the 9th and 10th amendments to regulate the practice of medicine. Furthermore, the lawsuit contends, the U.S.Constitution's Commerce Clause - the power under which the drug war is perpetrated - does not give the federal government power or authority to regulate commerce or medical practices within a state. Lockyer's office has copies of this lawsuit (you can read it and download it at www.emord.com/complain/htm). He should file an amicus curiae brief on its behalf and put the full weight of the California attorney general's office behind it. For that matter the Vasconcellos-Kennedy task force could take an official position on the Gettman petition and the Pearson-Shaw lawsuit, even before they develop guidelines for implementation of Prop. 215. There is plenty of disagreement on just what kind of guidelines should be promulgated. Some say implementation should be left to the local level, with cities and counties urged to pass ordinances similar to a law passed last year by the northern California city of Arcata, under which the police set up a confidential list of patients and a cultivation center is open to law enforcement inspection. Others say the Arcata ordinance is too restrictive. Some want the state government to set up a distribution system. Others prefer authorizing pharmacists to distribute marijuana along with other drugs. Prop. 215 has some shortcomings - I wish it didn't include the legally ambiguous and vulnerable to pernicious courtroom interpretation term "primary caregiver," for example - but its most important fault is that it doesn't create exemptions for patients from state laws against distribution, transportation and sale of marijuana. One of the task force's most important jobs, therefore, should be to draft careful exclusions for doctors, pharmacists, patients and maybe for distribution cooperatives from those laws - perhaps only for patients who agree to be placed on a state registry with confidentiality safeguards - and urge the legislature to pass them. That wouldn't be an amendment to Prop. 215 requiring another vote of the people, simply revisions to current law that are in the spirit of Prop. 215 and fully within the legislature's power to undertake. It's helpful to remember, however, that while these decisions have legal aspects, they occur in a political climate. The fact that five states besides California have passed initiatives authorizing access to marijuana for patients has changed that climate, but not enough to eliminate the intransigence of local, state and federal officials who see any flexibility on this issue as a threat to their precious and lucrative drug war. Medical marijuana advocates and patients will have to be more persistent and more intelligent in their argumentation and lobbying. This is a long-haul struggle. Meanwhile, the intransigent ones, from Barry McCaffrey down to local prosecutors, would do well to consider another possibility. The general attitude has been that yielding on medical marijuana could be the sign of weakness that brings the entire war on drugs to a halt. But if the people repeatedly demand that marijuana be available to patients whose doctors believe they could benefit from it and the authorities repeatedly resist this modest and reasonable reform, they could decide simply to legalize marijuana - to put it on the same legal status as, say, oregano. And that might really lead to an end of the entire drug war.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Politics of Punishment (Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters writes in the Oakland Tribune that the California Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved state Senator Tom Hayden's bill to reform California's "three strikes" mandatory-minimum sentencing law by requiring the third offense to be a violent or serious one. The committee also approved another bill to study the "three strikes" law. But the Assembly Public Safety Committee cleared a $4.1 billion bond issue to build six more state prisons. The debate continues.) Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 21:16:53 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: The Politics of Punishment Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Gerald Sutliff (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 Source: Oakland Tribune (CA) Copyright: 1999 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 66 Jack London Sq., Oakland, CA 94607 Website: http://www.newschoice.com/newspapers/alameda/tribune/ Author: Dan Walters Note: Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. His e-mail address is email@example.com THE POLITICS OF PUNISHMENT SUE Reams was near tears as she told state legislators Tuesday how her son came to face life in state prison. Son Shane, she said, became involved in drugs and committed some residential robberies, including one of her own home. She turned him in to authorities. "We thought he would get some help," the Orange County woman said, "some drug rehabilitation." But Shane's drug involvement continued, and 10 years after his original offenses, he was nailed as the lookout in a drug sale to undercover cops. It was his third offense, and under the state's "Three Strikes, You're Out" law, Shane went to prison for 25 years to life. The Reams case was one of several related to members of the Senate Public Safety Committee as it faced legislation that would soften the law by requiring the third offense to be a violent or serious one. The author of the measure, Sen. Tom Hayden, D-Los Angeles, and others argued that "Three Strikes" had sent thousands of men and women to long prison terms for relatively minor offenses. Hayden characterized it as "a belief in preventive detention." But the committee heard equally stout defenses of the law from police groups, prosecutors, prison guards and victims' rights advocates, who insisted that the law has contributed greatly to California's dropping crime rates. "Every three-striker made a conscious decision to break the law," said Cynthia Duarte, one of the victims' advocates. "Three Strikes" was the most emotional, but certainly not the only, crime issue facing lawmakers Tuesday. Advocates for the competing factions dashed up and down Capitol hallways as two legislative committees dealt with dozens of measures that would either toughen or soften criminal penalties and build more prisons to handle an inmate population nearing the bursting point. While the committee hearings were superficially about statistics, studies and fine points of morality, everyone involved knows that crime remains a very potent political icon. Voter and legislative enactment of the "Three Strikes" law in 1994 capped 15 years of converting California from one of the most lenient states in the nation, in terms of punishment, to one of the toughest. The state's prison population is now eight times what it was in 1980, and law enforcement groups have become powerful political players -- especially the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the prison guards union. THE CCPOA's three-pronged agenda of passing tougher crime laws, building more prisons and electing politicians friendly to the first two goals has been wildly successful. The guards provided critical funding to get the "Three Strikes" measure enacted and most recently, backed Democrat Gray Davis' election as governor. It's probably no coincidence that Davis sides with guards and other "Three Strikes" advocates, saying recently that "stronger sentencing ... is one of the reasons crime has gone down" and adding that he is "reluctant" to tamper with the law. The Senate Public Safety Committee approved Hayden's measure on a party-line vote -- Democrats for, Republicans against -- and another bill to study the "Three Strikes" law. But the Assembly Public Safety Committee cleared a $4.1 billion bond issue to build six more state prisons. The debate continues.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Principal Charged In Cocaine Sales (The Chicago Tribune says Delores Hill, 53, a principal known for tough words about drug abuse, has been charged with running a cocaine ring at the Tabernacle Church of God Elementary School in Brooklyn, New York. Authorities shut down the private, 160-student school when Hill was arrested along with the school nurse, a janitor and another worker after she allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover policewoman on school grounds.) Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 19:33:31 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NY: Principal Charged In Cocaine Sales Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Sat, 11 April 1999 Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/ Author: From Tribune News Services PRINCIPAL CHARGED IN COCAINE SALES NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- A principal known for tough words about drug abuse has been charged with running a narcotics ring at her elementary school. Delores Hill, 53, was arraigned Friday on charges of being the leader of a small drug ring at the Tabernacle Church of God Elementary School in Brooklyn. Hill allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover policewoman on school grounds. She was arrested along with the school nurse, a janitor and another worker. Authorities said the defendants dealt drugs to adults while children were in class. The janitor, Steven Donawa, 42, was arrested after he stopped by Hill's apartment and left carrying 51 bags of cocaine, prosecutors said. Patricia Kersey, 41, the school nurse, was arrested for allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. Hill has been quoted as an opponent of drug use. "There needs to be more drug education, especially for parents," she told Newsday in 1990. "Our 2nd graders know more about drugs than some of the parents." Authorities shut down the private, 160-student school.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Losing Battle To Revise Drug Law (Newsday, in New York, says reformers' campaign to soften the state's 1973 Rockefeller mandatory-minimum drug laws is stymied by several political factors. According to state lawmakers, those include the continuing opposition of Senate Republicans intent on building prisons; a change in Governor Pataki's position that some believe is linked to his national ambitions; and the reluctance of top Democrats to tackle an issue they say was used as recently as last year to label them as soft on crime. It doesn't matter that a statewide poll released last month showed that 69 percent of New Yorkers favored giving judges sentencing discretion.) Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 22:16:35 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NY: Losing Battle To Revise Drug Law Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 Source: Newsday (NY) Copyright: 1999, Newsday Inc. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (516)843-2986 Website: http://www.newsday.com/ LOSING BATTLE TO REVISE DRUG LAW Political Factors Hobble Effort To Soften 1973 Rockefeller Acts Albany - They've rallied on the Capitol steps, trotted out teary-eyed children of drug defendants and enlisted the state's top judge in their cause. Yet even as they have stepped up their campaign this legislative session, advocates of overhauling New York's stiff Rockefeller-era drug laws have not convinced top lawmakers and Gov. George Pataki, whose support is essential to any major change. Because of a confluence of political factors, observers say, there is virtually no chance the laws will be repealed soon and only a slim chance they will even be modified. And the only proposal being seriously considered, from Chief Judge Judith Kaye of the State Court of Appeals, is seen by critics as providing political cover to tinker with the laws without making serious changes. The reasons for the deadlock, elected officials say, include the continuing opposition of Senate Republicans intent on keeping crime rates low and building prisons; a change in Pataki's position that some believe is linked to his national ambitions; and the reluctance of top Democrats to tackle an issue they say was used as recently as last year to label them as soft on crime. "I would be thrilled if people were seriously discussing repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, but they're not," said Charles Adler, a criminal defense lawyer lobbying to change the laws on behalf of the New York City Bar Association. "The issue of drugs is very important for politicians, and there is no incentive for them to make these changes." Passed by the Legislature in 1973, the laws are the legacy of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller's crackdown on drugs through severe mandatory sentences. They require, for example, a 15-years-to-life sentence for anyone convicted of selling two ounces of cocaine. Judges cannot soften the punishments. The aim of the laws was to reduce drug-related crime, and proponents say they remain an effective tool for prosecutors. But critics contend the laws are too harsh, have flooded prisons with low-level offenders and have failed to stop the proliferation of drugs. And a statewide poll released late last month showed that 69 percent of New Yorkers favor giving judges sentencing discretion, which contradicts the central tenet of the Rockefeller laws. The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, was conducted for the New York Law Journal by the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute. In the past year, the laws' 25th anniversary has led to a crescendo of calls for overhauling them from inmate advocacy and civil rights groups, religious leaders and even some Republican senators who voted for them. Their cause was aided, some advocates believe, by Kaye, who urged earlier this year that appellate judges be allowed to reduce some minimum sentences in which they find a "miscarriage of justice" and that some nonviolent offenders should be sent to treatment programs instead of prison, if the judge and prosecutor consent. "It's very important that Judge Kaye has weighed into the struggle," said Assemb. Jeffrion Aubry (D-East Elmhurst), who has proposed eliminating mandatory sentencing entirely. Other advocates of change, however, dismiss Kaye's proposals as minor because of the involvement of prosecutors, who tend to favor prison over treatment. "This plays beautifully into Republican hands," said one New York judge who requested anonymity. "Are we better off with a bill that requires prosecutors' consent? No. Maybe worse because now the Republicans can walk away and say we did Rockefeller reform, and you'll never see any other changes." David Bookstaver, a spokesman for Kaye, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1993, said the judge's proposals were "apolitical" and intended to spark debate. Katherine Lapp, Pataki's commissioner of criminal justice, said Pataki is considering a plan to change the laws "along the lines of Judge Kaye's proposal." But she said the governor opposes any major overhaul, which he thinks "would only make the crime rate go back up." Four years ago, Pataki called for seriously softening the laws by giving judges leeway to sentence some non-violent drug offenders to treatment or community service rather than prison. But he backed away almost immediately, never throwing the weight of his office behind an overhaul and not pursuing any major changes in the years since. Numerous political observers say Pataki won't approve any serious changes now because he wants to court conservative voters if he runs for national office. Lapp denied that. "No one is playing politics, and no one is conspiring with anyone to get off the hook," she said. But Pataki's Republican colleagues who control the Senate have long opposed revising the Rockefeller laws, and there is little indication that sentiment has changed. "Repeal? That's impossible. Could there be injustices? We're looking at that, but I don't believe the laws are too harsh," said Sen. Dale Volker (R- Depew), who chairs the Codes Committee, which would consider any changes. "The level of violence in this state is down dramatically, and we're not going to upset the apple cart if we can help it." The tough-on-crime imperative has also weakened support for Rockefeller reform in the Democrat-dominated Assembly. Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) last year proposed attaching a Rockefeller revision to Jenna's Law, which ended parole for a broad class of first-time felons. But Silver withdrew the proposal, Democratic sources said, after opposition from Pataki and the parents of Jenna Grieshaber, the murdered Albany woman for whom the law was named. And because of the political barrage Silver endured as a result, said one Democratic lawmaker, "There's a bad taste left about the whole discussion, so I think there is a gunshyness." The lawmaker and other Democrats said that with Pataki and the Senate Republicans hardening their positions, and Assembly Democrats unwilling to take the lead, the most influential calls for significant changes in the laws are coming from former Republican senators who voted for them at the time. A spokeswoman for Silver would say only: "We are reviewing Judge Kaye's proposal and awaiting the governor's." One of the Republican senators who voted for the original bills and is campaigning to overhaul them, John Dunne of Garden City, acknowledged the difficulties that lie ahead. "We have no illusions," said Dunne, who is now a private attorney in Albany. "This is going to be a very tough battle. But it's one worth waging."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Earth to Supreme Court: Woman's Purse More Than a Container (Marianne Means, a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, writes in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision giving police even greater latitude in searching motorists. Men carry billfolds to hold money and credit cards, usually in those pockets the court is protecting. But women carry purses in order to keep with them at all times their most intimate possessions. The "Supremes" do not realize the mischief they are creating here. No self-respecting woman is likely to hand over the secrets of her purse to police snoops without a fight. We have not heard the last of this issue.) Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 10:08:10 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Column: Earth To Supreme Court: Woman's Purse More Than A Container Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA) Copyright: 1999 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.seattle-pi.com/ Author: MARIANNE MEANS, HEARST NEWSPAPERS Note: Marianne Means is Washington, D.C., columnist with Hearst Newspapers. EARTH TO SUPREME COURT: WOMAN'S PURSE MORE THAN A CONTAINER WASHINGTON -- Somebody should tell the Supreme Court that a woman's purse is more than just an ordinary "container." The majority acknowledged that without a warrant a body search of a passenger that would include a pocket or "the space between his shirt and underwear" would be an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. But a purse? Fair game. Not technically attached to the body. It's merely attached to the heart and mind and personality of the woman carrying it, that's all. A purse is an extension of a woman's identity. It is her very self, her lifeline, her support system. Men carry billfolds to hold money and credit cards, usually in those pockets the court is protecting. But women carry purses in order to keep with them at all times their most intimate possessions, such as eyeglasses, keys, appointment calendars and makeup as well as money and pictures of loved ones. You name it. Purses hold it. Purses are not to be taken lightly. They come in all sizes and shapes, depending on the requirements of their owners. Normally they dangle from a hand or shoulder, serving as virtually a permanent female appendage. They are miniature suitcases. Most women would rather lose their soul than lose their purse. Oddly, the two female justices split on the issue. Sandra Day O'Connor thought purses were no big deal while Ruth Bader Ginsburg disapproved of the majority's strained language protecting a man's pocket but not a woman's pocketbook. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion in Wyoming vs. Houghton, ruled that a closed container like a purse or briefcase belonging to a passenger in a car legally stopped because the driver was suspected of transporting drugs can be included in a general police search of the auto and its contents. In this case, the passenger, Sandra Houghton, was found to be carrying drugs and related paraphernalia in her purse. Scalia sought to make this invasion of privacy palatable by making a distinction between possessions being worn and those being carried. He conceded that "even a limited search of outer clothing . . . constitutes a severe, though brief, intrusion upon cherished personal security and it must surely be an annoying, frightening and perhaps humiliating experience. . . . But such traumatic consequences are not to be expected when the police examine an item of personal property found in a car." Justice Stephen Breyer, in a concurring opinion, was troubled by Scalia's airy dismissal of a purse as just another receptacle for holding goods. "Purses are special containers," he noted. "I am tempted to say that a search of a purse involves an intrusion so similar to a search of one's person that the same rule should govern both . . . " But Breyer added that in past decisions the court had refused to legally treat purses differently from any other closed bag or box and he would stick to precedent. He was also influenced by the fact the purse was found at a distance from its owner, rather than clutched in her hands. "It would matter if a woman's purse, like a man's billfold, were attached to her person. It might then amount to a kind of outer clothing," Breyer wrote. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the three-justice dissent, arguing that a warrantless search of a passenger's purse or briefcase involved a serious intrusion of privacy that could not be justified without probable cause to suspect that the person owning it has committed a crime. The mere existence of a purse in a suspect's car does not mean the cops should be free to rummage in it just for the fun of it. The "Supremes" do not realize the mischief they are creating here. No self-respecting woman is likely to hand over the secrets of her purse to police snoops without a fight. We have not heard the last of this issue. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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