DEATH TO THE DRUGGIES

by Julian Heicklen

Senator Orin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 28 Senate co-sponsors have introduced Bill S. 3 that mandates that a person convicted of bringing into the United States "100 usual dosage amounts" of several illicit substancesÑincluding two ounces of marijuanaÑbe sentenced to life without parole for a first offense and death for a second offense. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and 37 House co-sponsors have introduced Bill H. R. 41 with the identical provision. On May 8, 1997, Speaker Gingrich said: "If you sell it, we're going to kill you."

William Bennett, the first U. S. "Drug Czar" has said:

On "Larry King Live," June 15, 1989, a caller to the national cable television show suggested to Drug "Czar" William Bennett: "Behead the damn drug dealers." Mr. Bennett's response was:

Mr. Bennett reiterated his position the next day in a written statement that told drug dealers: "You deserve to die."

Thomas J. Gleaton, Director of PRIDE has said:

Folks, this is your America. Because of the hysteria of our national leaders, not only has reason left the land, but so has the law. Recently in Centre County, Alan Gordon was on trial for possession of marijuana. His experience with the criminal justice system is an example of how the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pennsylvania Constitution are trashed.

Mr. Gordon was handing out "marijuana licenses" at College Avenue and Allen Streets in State College. He was not selling them, but he was asking for donations. A plain clothes police officer asked to buy a license, but Gordon refused to sell him one. He gave him one, and said that he would accept donations. The police officer took the license, but made no donation. Then Gordon was arrested for soliciting without a license, even though no money was exchanged. Furthermore, even if Mr. Gordon were selling the licenses, it would be legal, because they are printed matter and protected under the Freedom of Press clause of the Bill of Rights from government regulation. He was searched (illegally, since his arrest was illegal) and found to possess marijuana.

District Magistrate Bradley Lunsford released Gordon on $1000 unsecured bond and the proviso that he not use marijuana. The following day, Gordon entered the magistrate's office with over 150 marijuana plants. He was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia (the flower pots containing the marijuana), even though he was in the act of dispossession.

Under the provisions of Amendment 5 to the U. S. Constitution "no person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury." Gordon was forced to trial without such an indictment.

At his pre-trial hearing, bail was set at $1500, even though bail was not necessary to ensure that Gordon would appear at his trial. He was intent on making a test case of the marijuana laws. Thus bail was used as punishment. Furthermore District Magistrate Ronald Horner lied from the bench about both the conditions for the return and forfeiture of bail. Later Gordon requested that bail be rescinded, since there was no reason to believe that he would not appear at the trial. That request was denied by Judge David Grine.

The incident with Magistrate Horner occurred at the pretrial hearing on July 9, 1997, at which Horner presided. At the end of the hearing, I asked Magistrate Horner about the bail amount. The magistrate answered $1500. Why there should be any bail is unclear, since the purpose of bail is to insure that the defendant appears at his trial. Gordon turned himself in and wanted this trial, so he surely would have appeared. I stated that I wished to bail Gordon out from July 9 to July 14. The magistrate said that this could not be done. Bail would not be returned until a final disposition of the case was made including appeals. This was Horner's first lie. Gordon was bailed out by me on July 9 and returned to the prison on July 14. The bail money was returned to me. Furthermore Magistrate Horner stated that if Gordon was rearrested for any reason whatever while on bail, the bail money would be forfeited. This was a second lie. I carefully discussed the bail conditions with Prothonotary David Immel. The only conditions for which bail could be forfeited were either failure to appear for a scheduled court appearance or for tampering with a witness for this case. Other arrests are irrelevant. It is clear that Magistrate Horner wished to use bail as punishment to keep Gordon in prison and prevent him from preparing his defense, since he was acting as his own attorney. However I bailed him out again on July 23, 1997.

While Gordon was awaiting trial, two different police jurisdictions were trying to entrap Gordon into selling marijuana. They approached known marijuana users and asked them to be wired to a tape recorder and to try to entrap Gordon into selling them marijuana.

The Court Administrator denied access to any information about the jurors on the venire list. From voting registration records, it was shown that the venire was not an accurate reflection of the age distribution in Centre County. Gordon requested that the venire be corrected to reflect more accurately the age distribution of the County. That request was denied by Judge Grine without explanation. Thus Gordon was denied an impartial jury in conflict with Amendment 6 to the U.S. Constitution. The final jury pool of 181 people was skewed by age to Mr. Gordon's disadvantage. According to the 1990 census, 24.1% of the adults (over 18 years of age) in Centre county are 18Ð21 years of age. In the jury pool, only 1.7% were in this age range. From the census, 55.1% of the adult population are less than 35 years old. In the jury pool only 23.8% were under 35 years of age. Thus Gordon was being denied an impartial jury in conflict with Amendment 6 to the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Gordon requested that written questions be presented to the jury pool to obtain a fair and impartial jury. His request was denied without explanation.

Under the provisions of Amendment 6 to the U. S. Constitution, the accused is entitled "to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor." Gordon is an indigent and homeless person. He said that he would defend himself and did not request a lawyer. However he did request funds to pay for the expenses of expert witnesses that live outside Centre County. His request for funds was denied, but the Court did appoint a public defender to act as helping counsel. Of course the County paid for the public defender, which Mr. Gordon did not request, but would not pay for travel expenses for witnesses, which Gordon did request. Also Gordon requested that witnesses that had committed the crime of smoking marijuana be given immunity. Judge Grine told Gordon to obtain the permission from the District Attorney. Of course, the District Attorney denied that request. Thus Gordon was unable to present witnesses.

Mr. Gordon needed to present medical records to establish the medical benefit of marijuana to him. He needed his medical records while he was confined in the Centre County Prison and was denied marijuana to show that he became ill. Deputy Warden Dennis Fetzer told me that the prison could not release the records without a subpoena. A subpoena was presented to Deputy Warden Fetzer in the presence of Warden Gerald Wilson. They refused to accept the subpoena and would not release the medical records.

Mr. Gordon's proposed defense was a two-pointed one: a justification or necessity defense and a jury nullification defense. Both are established permitted legal defenses. He wished to defend himself by showing that he has a medical need to use marijuana that transcends the government's need to prohibit it. Furthermore he proposed to show that the laws outlawing marijuana are absurd and should be nullified by the jury. The District Attorney asked Judge Grine to prevent Gordon from using either of these defenses, and Judge Grine agreed to prohibit them without explaining why. The jury nullification defense was denied verbally by Judge Grine at a pre-trial conference of September 26, 1997. The medical defense was denied verbally by Judge Grine just prior to jury selection on November 16, 1997. Thus Gordon was left with no way to defend himself. This denied Gordon the right to a fair and impartial trial as guaranteed by Amendment 6 to the U.S. Constitution.

The above information was sent in a letter of October 20, 1997, to all of those involved with the case. Immediately upon receipt of the letter, the District Attorney dropped all charges and dismissed the case. On December 16, PEACE ON DRUGS, a coalition of four organizations (SMART ON CRIME, PENN STATE CHAPTER OF NORML, PENN STATE LIBERTARIAN PARTY, and CENTRE COUNTY LIBERTARIAN PARTY) wrote to the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board petitioning for the removal from office of Judge David Grine and District Magistrate Ronald Horner. In a letter of March 8, 1998, the Judical Conduct Board stated that there is no basis for action, and that the complaint has been dismissed.