Pubdate: Wed, 21 Nov 2007
Source: Seven Days Vermont (Burlington, VT)
Column: Inside Track 54
Copyright: 2007 Seven Days Vermont
Author: Peter Freyne
Note: Relevant part of a longer column.
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Gov. Jim Douglas may have thought he was scoring points for next
November when he jumped into the middle of the Great Windsor County
Marijuana Case, but the pot and the plot are definitely thickening.

Martha Davis, a Woodstock Generation lawyer and part-time family court
judge who called Fish & Wildlife over a dead deer, got popped for the
2 1/2 pounds and 32 small marijuana plants the officials discovered on
her property.

State's Attorney Bobby Sand, a decriminalization advocate, gave the
first-time offender a shot at court diversion.

Gov. Douglas screamed bloody murder, jumped in, and declared that
henceforth state law enforcement and federal agencies should bring
first-time pot cases to the state attorney general.

That inspired a letter from 13 members of the Windsor County
legislative delegation to the AG, urging him to ignore the guv's directive.


Simple. Bobby Sand was elected by the people of the county to handle
the prosecution of crime in that county. In this matter, Sand derives
his just powers from the consent of the governed.

Gov. Douglas, they noted, does not.

"Please note that our concern has nothing to do with approval or
disproval of our present drug laws," the legislators noted. "By
bringing charges and directing the defendant to Court Diversion in the
case that precipitated the Governor's directive, Mr. Sand is enforcing
the existing law."

Sand also picked up support this week from Franklin Billings Jr., a
former chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court and, like Douglas, a

Billings told the Rutland Herald that the governor had crossed the
line. Douglas has a right to speak his piece, said Billings.

"As a judge, I feel the prosecutor has the discretion, just as the
judge has the discretion absent sentencing guidelines," Billings said.
"That is what they are elected for."

Gov. Douglas was unavailable for the Rutland Herald article, but yours
truly nailed him at an I-89 interstate rest area, where he was
presiding over a free-WiFi "ribbon-cutting" presser the other day.

Gov. Douglas called the Windsor County pot case "an extraordinary
situation" in which State's Attorney Sand's prosecutorial discretion
"has been abused."

"And I think it's important for me as the executive authority with
law-enforcement agencies reporting to me," said the Guv to yours
truly, "to ensure that the laws of Vermont are carried out fairly."

Douglas suggested, "It's simply unfair for someone in one county to be
treated vastly different from someone somewhere else. There's a
perception of a double standard when a well-connected attorney and
acting judge is treated generously in a situation like this. I believe
I'm doing the right thing."

On first blush, public-relations-wise, it looks like you are, Guv. But
then the damn law and the Constitution get in the way, don't they?

Jeezum crow. You'd think if we could adapt to same-sex marriage, the
Woodstock Generation might have been able to demonstrate a little
sanity by now when it comes to marijuana, instead of creating a vast
criminal culture.

Hey, did you notice former Chickenbone Cafe bartender Greg Stevens'
arrest in Brooklyn, New York, for smuggling 340 pounds of grass across
the Canadian border last year hidden in a tractor trailer?

A Burlington King Street fixture back in the 1980s and '90s, Stevens
did five years for the big Billy Greer Canadian hashish bust. Judge
William Sessions revoked his release and gave Stevens 30 more months
to serve. Greg's 56 now.

We're all paying his room and board . . . again.

Better world? 
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