Victory At Jury Trial for LA's Dopest Attorney by Jessica Lux

posted Jan 28, 2013, 3:54 AM by The Editor   [ updated Feb 19, 2013, 5:28 AM ]
On May 31, 2011, defendant David Rios was found not guilty by a jury of his peers in the San Fernando Courthouse on charges of transporting five pounds of marijuana. Attorneys Allison Margolin and Raza Lawrence (Margolin & Lawrence, Beverly Hills, CA) demonstrated to the judge and jury that Mr. Rios was a qualified patient under Proposition 215 acting in accordance with state law. After three days of deliberation, spanning the Memorial Day weekend, the jury returned a NOT GUILTY verdict on all felony counts.

Mr. Rios was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) while transporting medicine for a collective from northern California to the Los Angeles area. Upon a search of the vehicle, officers found five 1 lb. bags of marijuana (all of which were prominently labeled as medical cannabis), a small container with additional marijuana, a pipe with burnt plant material, and a binder of patient recommendations. One of the photos introduced as evidence showed five clear plastic bags labeled as medical marijuana next to a stack of patient recommendations on the hood of a CHP patrol vehicle.

For seven courtroom days, The Human Solution and the Landa Prison Outreach Program (LPOP) attended the trial of medical marijuana patient David Rios. The Human Solution is a grassroots organization which provides education and support to cannabis users in the court system. Members of The Human Solution silently observe court appearances while wearing the green solidarity ribbon—a red cross centered on a green fabric ribbon that demonstrates unity among citizens opposed to the prosecution of cannabis users. At recent court support events, The Human Solution has filled all available courtroom seats with a sea of green ribbons. It is normal for a dozen members or more, some in wheelchairs, to attend court in support of one another.

During the trial, the prosecutor made a request that the green solidarity ribbon be banned from the courtroom. Outside the presence of the jury, the judge heard arguments and then ruled that the ribbon could stay in court! She noted that it doesn’t state any particular message or have a political acronym and therefore the solidarity ribbon is not a disruptive influence in court.

As a group, members of The Human Solution decided to maintain complete silence in the hallways and courtroom seats, lest there be any appearance of jury tampering. This tactic paid off, because there were no grounds for complaints about influence from members of the audience. Court supporters said they felt positive and cooperative energy from the judge, clerk, baliff, and other courtroom staff. None of the impartial members of the judicial system made The Human Solution feel unwelcome or intrusive.

The prosecutor, on the other hand, made no secret of his disdain for all the citizen witnesses wearing the green solidarity ribbon. At one point, when a member of the district attorney’s office entered the courtroom to deliver some supporting paperwork, he remarked that he, too, has groupies. For once, the prosecutor, not the defendant, appeared alone and afraid in the courtroom. A sea of green ribbons just smiled silently back at him.

After attorneys Allison Margolin and Raza Lawrence presented an affirmative defense with evidence of their client’s status as a qualified medical cannabis patient, the jury spent three days deliberating the case before exonerating the defendant. We can get some insight into their deliberation by considering the questions they asked, which include:
  • Was each and every package in the defendant’s car labeled as medical marijuana?
  • Were there enough recommendations for the amount of medicine in the car, assuming 8 ounces per collective patient member?
  • What was the chain of custody? Did the defendant verify the medical status of the person who provided the marijuana? Were there receipts for exchanges of medicine?
Other medical marijuana patients, vendors, transporters, and entrepreneurs should consider these questions carefully. If a medical marijuana label is the deciding factor for a juror considering whether you are a “patient in compliance with the law” or a “drug dealer,” shouldn’t you grab a Sharpie right now and label all of the medicine in your possession? Better yet, print some labels from your personal computer that cite CA H&S Code 11362.5 and 11362.7, and California Proposition 215.
What do we want? Justice.
When do we want it? Now!

Originally published in the Prison Outreach Press, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Fall 2011).

Photo of Allison Margolin at addressing the crowd at Willow Creek Springs provided by medicalmarijuana411.com.

Cite this article:

Lux, Jessica. "Victory At Jury Trial for LA's Dopest Attorney." Prison Outreach Press 2.2 (2011): 1,6. Print.
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