Monday, June 02, 2008

People v. Masotti (Cal. Ct. App. - May 28, 2008)

Not much from the Ninth Circuit and California Court of Appeal today. Or at least not much that I'm desperately itching to talk about. A couple of opinions by both; we'll see what the late afternoon brings (if anything) from the latter.

By contrast, here's an opinion from a couple of days ago about which I definitely had a reaction. And as to which I'm more than willing to shed some paragraphs of virtual ink. Notwithstanding the fact that others may well have -- perhaps entirely validly -- a distinctly contrary view.

To start with: Yes, it's a crime. And we gotta enforce the laws. I agree with all that. Which says a lot.

Still. Can we think of nothing better to do with our lives than to prosecute a Vietnam War veteran who suffers pain in his knees and hip, gets a valid medical marijuana card under California law, grows his own stuff in very limited quantities permitted by the statute, but who makes a mistake and gives a tiny amount of pot to a friend (slash informant) who stops by his house one day and asks for a tiny amount of weed on the grounds that it's his birthday?

I admit that I may be overly sympathetic with the defendant in this one on the legally irrelevant ground that even after the friend/informant offered to pay for the stuff, the defendant refused to accept his money. And the fact that the friend/informant subsequently left a grand total of ten whole dollars on the table (and, later, another five American greenbacks for another "buy") hardly convinces me that this is a guy that we must take down hard lest our nation be inexorably led into the pits of hell. Nor does the fact that the defendant has a grand total of $189 in cash in his entire house lead me to believe that he's the Arellano Felix of marijuana up there in Modoc County.

Fifteen dollars worth of pot from a disabled Vietnam veteran. Ranks right up there with murder and poverty in the scale of obvious social priorities.