Pubdate: Sat, 21 May 2016
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2016 The Trentonian
Author: Penny Ray


TRENTON - Police say summonses charging Ed Forchion for smoking 
marijuana in city council chambers last year were signed by officials 
the day following the incident and sent to him via "regular mail."

But Forchion's attorney says that claim doesn't make sense because 
police must have a record showing they served a complaint before a 
warrant can be issued for failing to appear in court.

"You can't send it regular mail; they might as well just put it in 
the shredder because it has the same legal effect," Forchion's 
attorney Ed Heyburn said. "They either deliver it in person, or they 
send it certified mail and someone has to sign for it. When they go 
before a judge and request a warrant, they'll be asked to show when 
they served the complaint."

Forchion, a marijuana activist also known as NJ Weedman, smoked a 
joint in city council chambers last November in protest of council's 
failure to vote on a resolution calling on the state to legalize, tax 
and regulate pot.

Forchion was not the only person to smoke during the protest, nor was 
he the one who lit the joint. Video of the protest shows someone hand 
the joint to Forchion. Video also shows that a security guard and TPD 
Captain Ed Gonzalez witnessed the incident. A protester even puffed 
the joint directly in front of Capt. Gonzalez. But no one other than 
Forchion has been charged in connection with the smoke out, according 
to a Trenton Police spokesperson. Officials declined to comment 
further regarding why Forchion was the only person charged.

Forchion, in fact, didn't know he was charged for smoking in City 
Hall until earlier this week when he was in municipal court facing 
offenses related to a recent incident where he called Trenton Police 
Officer Herbert Flowers a "pedophile" and a "big boy who (expletive) 
with little girls."

After published a report about Forchion being charged for the city 
council protest six months after the incident, police officials 
contacted the paper and said the summonses were signed the day 
following the smoke out and sent via regular mail.

In addition to there being a statute requiring police to show proof 
of serving a summons, Heyburn says, Forchion most likely would have 
been arrested had he failed to show up in court multiple times within 
the past six months. Heyburn said they might not have issued a 
warrant for missing the first court date, but after missing a second 
date, law enforcement most likely would've arrested him well before 
the county raided his property last month.

"They would've issued a failure to appear (FTA) warrant for his 
arrest," Heyburn said.

Police officials declined to comment on why no warrant was issued for 
Forchion's arrest in connection with the smoke out.

"I've been in and out of the court system for 20 years and I 
completely understand how it works," Forchion said. "If I missed 
court, there would've been a warrant from the City of Trenton."

Forchion believes being charged for the City Hall smoke out is just 
another example of "harassment" by the police department and 
politicians in an effort to shutter his businesses.

Forchion also said he's received several tickets in the last week for 
allegedly violating city code by being open after 11 p.m., although 
he's conducted no sales transactions after the curfew. He said police 
park outside his East State Street businesses late at night to see if 
anyone is even in the building. And if so, Forchion said, he receives a ticket.

"They refuse to separate my religious temple from my other 
businesses," Forchion said.

Heyburn said he anticipated police would charge Forchion for the 
November incident at City Hall and he plans to file a motion to 
dismiss the charges.

"The city is using selective prosecution to prosecute Ed and they're 
not enforcing the same laws to the rest of the community," Heyburn said.
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