Tuesday, January 03, 2006

U.S. v. Adams (9th Cir. - Jan. 3, 2006)

Okay, some advice to everyone out there as we ring in 2006.

Let's say that you have assets of over $7.4 million and your net worth is, say, $7.1 million. Your lifestyle includes hitting the occasional bong. Okay, let's say, more than occasional. You live in Wolf Creek, Montana, after all. Big Sky. Big High. That's how you like to spend some of your time.

Those are the predicate assumptions. Which of the following is your best approach to effectuate your chosen lifestyle:

(A) Score some pot, at your leisure, from any of the legions of dudes in Montana willing so sell you some. Or
(B) Plant hundreds of marijuana plants on your own property, which will subsequently be discovered when the DEA conducts its inevitable helicopter flyover, resulting in both the seizure of your property as well as a mandatory fine of $400,000, which -- unlike virtually every other bud-smoking guy in the universe -- you will actually have the assets (and hence be forced) to pay.

A toughie, eh? Remember the choices again: (A) Spending an occasional $500/ounce, or (B) Spending $400,000 plus losing your property. Hmmm. Which should I choose?

Needless to say, Ronald Adams chooses (B). Hence this appeal.

In the end, you'll be happy to know that Adams gets his sentence vacated. Because Adams struck a plea deal with the government which said that, in return for his plea, the government would recommend that no fine be imposed. But the $400,000 fine was mandatory under the guidelines, and no one (including the judge) never told Bruce that before he pled guilty. So the panel -- over Judge Kleinfeld's dissent -- lets Bruce withdraw his plea.

The lesson for today: Multimillionaires should not grow their own. Let us rejoice in the additional knowledge we have acquired in 2006.