Friday, October 26, 2007

Justice Served

I went to Courtroom 10 in the City and County of Denver Building this morning to speak on behalf of a friend who had been arrested for “intent to distribute” marijuana. I was prepared to explain, but got no chance to speak, that I had met this young man when he and I were both trying to help a mutual friend, a Vietnam veteran, whose life, having been ruined by his military service, was rapidly disintegrating into mental and physical ruin. We had both showed up to clean the vet’s apartment. We hauled out months of trash, and did the best we could to clean up. I was impressed with this young man’s compassion for our mutual friend. Over the next year we often cooperated to help our friend. In time, we became friends. We met socially a few times and I was introduced to his wife, a beautiful person in her own right. They seemed to be a happy couple, with plans to improve their house in Park Hill and start a new business. This young man became a true friend when he came to see me after my own son died from pneumonia in 2005. I was truly impressed with his compassion and understanding during my time of grief. A rare trait, I thought, in a person in his thirties. Months later his wife called me to inquire about office space for her new business, leaving a message on my answering machine. The next day she was dead. I learned the details later. She had said she was not feeling well and had gone to bed. Checking on her later, my friend discovered that she was not breathing. In a panic, he put her in his car and drove to the hospital. At the hospital, he was told that she was dead and that nothing could be done. In total despair, he returned to his house. Within an hour the police showed up and began to search the house as a crime scene. This is standard procedure in an “unattended” death, i.e., not in a hospital. During the search, the police discovered quantities of marijuana and other “controlled” substances in his refrigerator. Thus, hours after the death of his wife, he was arrested and taken to jail. Later he was charged with 11 drug felonies. His wife was found to have died from natural causes. His house and cash were seized. He got a good attorney. He became very depressed and had himself committed. He received medication (drugs, including some of the same type for which he had been arrested) and counseling and was released. His house was sold and the police department got most of the money, but, through the efforts of his attorney, they left him enough to pay off the mortgage and rent an apartment. This morning he stood with his attorney to receive his sentence. The judge mentioned the severity of the case, and the range of possible sentence – from 4 to 16 years. He will have a review after 180 days in jail at which time the final sentence will be determined. Living through the last 50 years of failed drug prohibition as I have, thinking of the billions spent on the ridiculous notion that humans, after thousands of years of trying, can be prevented from getting high, watching as our civil rights have slowly been eroded under the pretext of this drug prohibition, and now rapidly erased with new laws to prohibit even thinking about “home grown terrorism”, and now further witnessing our war criminal President preparing to kill hundreds of thousands more in Iran with the power of his “Unitary Presidency”, I can only mouth the words, God Help Us All.


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