SCOTUS

Supreme Court gives judges leeway in mandatory minimum cases

Posted on April 10th, 2017 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

SCOTUSThe US Supreme Court on April 4 handed down a unanimous decision in Dean v. United States, giving federal judges greater flexibility in mandatory minimum cases—an aim activists have long been demanding. Advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums filed a brief in support of the petitioner in the case.

Supreme Court to hear drug forfeiture case

Posted on December 12th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

SCOTUSThe Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could set limits on the federal government's sweeping powers to seize property in drug cases under "criminal forfeiture" laws. Tony and Terry Honeycutt were charged with federal drug offenses after selling quantities of iodine-based water disinfectant at their camping and hunting store in Chattanooga—because the substance can also be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Tony, the actual owner of the store, pleaded guilty, and had $200,000 seized—the amount believed equivalent to his proceeds from the sales of the chemical. Terry fought the charge, and lost. The government then sought an additional $70,000 from him. In Honeycutt v. United States, Terry is arguing that he is not liable for the proceeds because he wasn't an owner of the store.

SCOTUS deals new blow to Fourth Amendment

Posted on June 20th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

SCOTUS The Supreme Court on June 20 ruled that evidence discovered in a police stop found to be illegal may still be used in court—with the caveat that the officers conducted their search after learning that the suspect had an outstanding arrest warrant. In a 5-3 ruling, the Supremes found that such searches do not violate the Fourth Amendment. The case, Utah v. Strieff, concerned Edward Strieff, who in December 2006 was stopped by an officer staking out a suspected drug-dealing location in South Salt Lake. Grounds for the stop were later ruled inadequate because it was not based on reasonable suspicion. During the stop, the officer ran a check and discovered Strieff had an outstanding warrant for a minor traffic violation, and conducted a search—finding a baggie full of methamphetamines and a pipe that was deemed paraphernalia. A district court later ruled that although the cop didn't have the right to stop Strieff, the evidence was admissible. The highest court in the land has now agreed.

Supreme Court deals blow to Oakland medical program

Posted on March 22nd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

OaklandIn a blow to municipal power to regulate medical marijuana, the US Supreme Court on March 21 refused to hear Oakland's appeal of last year's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the city cannot help defend Harborside Health Center in federal court. The Justice Department has been trying to shut down the flagship dispensary on the Oakland waterfront—dubbed a "superstore" by US attorney Melinda Haag. The city of Oakland tried to intervene in the case, asserting that Harborside's closure would rob the cash-strapped municipality of millions in tax revenues.

Native American church schism sues for right to cannabis

cannabisA seemingly schismatic Oregon branch of the Native American Church claims the US government illegally seized its sacramental cannabis—and is fighting in court to get it back. Oklevueha Native American Church leaders James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney and Joy Graves brought the case Jan. 15 in a US district court in Portland. Graves says she mailed five ounces of cannabis to a church member in Ohio on Dec. 10, but it never arrived. The Postal Service tracking website reported that the package had been seized by law enforcement. A postal inspector in Portland told her cannabis is illegal under federal law and was unimpressed by her claim that she sent the herb to a church member with esophageal cancer for use in healing rituals, according to Courthouse News Service. Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 2007 and approved recreational cannabis through a ballot measure last year. Both remain illegal in Ohio, although small quantities are decriminalized there. Sending cannabis through the mails is a federal crime.

Federal court finds drug dog unreliable —but upholds conviction

Posted on August 10th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

In an utterly maddening decision, on July 28 the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found that a police dog in a drug bust was unreliable in detecting drugs—yet let the conviction in the case stand anyway! Lex, the drug-sniffing pooch of the police force in Bloomington, Ill.,  must have been at the "bottom of his class" at dog-training school, the court stated. The defense presented evidence that Lex signals for drugs 93% of the time, often inaccurately. The court admitted Lex only had a "59.5% field-accuracy rate," which is "not much better than a coin flip." It also agreed that giving the critter treats for each alert—false or not—was a "terrible way to promote" accuracy. But the conviction of Larry Bentley Jr was upheld, on the grounds that contradictory answers to officers' questions and other evidence separately justified the search of his car in a traffic stop, which turned up cocaine.

High court: warrant needed for cell-phone searches

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Shadow WatchThe US Supreme Court issued a key ruling in favor of Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age June 25, finding unanimously that police in most cases need a warrant before searching the cellphone or personal electronic device of an arrestee. Chief Justice John Roberts firmly rejected arguments that searches of digital devices are comparable to searches police routinely carry out for contraband after making an arrest. In the cases of Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie (argued separetly, but decided together), Roberts wrote: "Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse... The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant."

SCOTUS deals new blow to Fourth Amendment

Posted on April 26th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

SCOTUSThe US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on April 22 in Navarette v. California that a traffic stop that led to a marijuana arrest was constitutional because police had reasonable suspicion the driver was intoxicated. In 2008, California Highway Patrol officers stopped Lorenzo Prado Navarette's pickup truck on a Mendocino County road based on a 911 tip about reckless driving. The officers said they smelled marijuana when approaching the vehicle. They conducted a search and found 30 pounds of cannabis. Navarette and a passenger were arrested and charged. At trial, they moved to suppress the evidence on grounds that the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights because the officers lacked reasonable suspicion when they pulled Navarette over. But in the opinion authored by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the majority found that while an anonymous tip will not always lead to reasonable suspicion, in this case it did. The court found that "under appropriate circumstances, an anonymous tip can demonstrate sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make an investigatory stop." Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito lined up with the majority, as did swing voters Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. (Sacramento Bee, This Week, Jurist, April 22)

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