I have also noticed there has been an increase in drug-interdiction traffic stops by state troopers on U.S. Highway 287 in Armstrong County. Highway 287 runs through Amarillo southeast to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and then on to the Gulf Coast of Texas. As I mentioned in my November 10 post, more and more counties in the Amarillo area want a piece of the huge revenues generated by drug-interdiction activity along Interstate 40 and the other major highways in this area.
Over the last year I have noticed there has been an uptick in drug-interdiction traffic stops by state troopers on U.S. Highway 87 in Dallam County and Hartley County. Highway 87 is the major road for travel from Colorado through New Mexico to the high plains of Texas. After seeing the revenues generated by drug-interdiction activity along Interstate 40, it appears Dallam and Hartley County authorities want to get in on the action.
With the relaxed attitude towards marijuana use and possession in Colorado, I expect to see more and more activity along Highway 87.
Well over 90 percent of criminal cases are resolved by way of plea negotiations with the State or the Federal Government. I believe the best outcomes are achieved when I can show that my client is different from the “average” person charged with a drug-crime or money laundering. It is important to understand that the various prosecutors I work with on a daily basis see hundreds of cases a year and thousands of cases during their careers as prosecutors.
If I can show that my client is different – in a positive way – I can often negotiate a better resolution for my client.
Case in point. I recently represented a young man from California. He was stopped in Potter County while on a cross-country trip. While searching his vehicle, law enforcement officers found a small amount of marijuana and some edibles believed to contain an illegal substance. My client was subsequently charged with possession of a controlled substance. The lab report showed that the edibles contained Tetrahydrocannabinol (Hashish). Because the edibles weighed over 400 grams, my client was facing 5 to 99 years, or life in prison. Through medical records we were able to show the prosecutor that my client had a medical condition and that traditional treatments had severe side effects on my client. Under the supervision of a medical doctor in California, my client was being treated with medical marijuana. The marijuana and edibles he had in his position were prescribed by his doctor. The state prosecutor was swayed by our arguments and agreed to let my client plead to a lesser Class A misdemeanor charge. My client went from facing life in prison to a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. Because he was place on deferred adjudication probation as part of our plea agreement – he has the opportunity to have the case dismissed and not have a final conviction on his record.
Granted this was a rare case. However, by showing that you are different from what the prosecutor typically sees, you are more likely to achieve a better resolution of your case.
Every year I have several cases that are dismissed either through negotiations with the State, as a result of a court suppressing the State’s evidence, or through the appellate process.
I have therefore decided to add a new section to my blog entitled “Case Dismissed” where I will post information on these cases. In each post, I will include factors that were beneficial to my client or that were challenging for the State.
I wanted to post an update to the status of my interesting new case I mentioned in my June 11 post – the Judge granted my motion to transfer venue to the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division. We now get to try this case in Amarillo. The government lawyers will have to travel from the Dallas area to prosecute this case – better than me traveling there to defend it.
I am now licensed to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
I have an interesting new case – a civil forfeiture case in federal court. I find it interesting not because of the facts of the case but because of where the case was filed by the federal government’s lawyers.
My client was stop by law enforcement officers near Amarillo in Potter County, Texas. During the course of the traffic stop, the officers found a large sum of United States currency. The money was seized and an administrative forfeiture proceeding was initiated to forfeit the money to the federal government. I help my client file a claim in the administrative proceeding requesting a judicial determination of the case. The government lawyers then filed a complaint seeking to forfeit the money in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas – Sherman Division in Sherman, Texas. Sherman is about 350 miles east of Amarillo just north of Dallas, about a six hour drive from Amarillo.
Why would the government want to try this case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas – Sherman Division?
Potter County is located in the area served by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas – Amarillo Division. The seizure took place near Amarillo in Potter County. Except for my client, all of the witnesses to the traffic stop and subsequent seizure live in the Amarillo area. It would certainly be more convenient for the witnesses if the case were tried locally. Not to mention that federal law says that venue (where the case should be tried) is proper in federal court in Amarillo.
My guess is that the government lawyers did not like their last experience in federal court in Amarillo when we tried another forfeiture case there last year.
I plan on filing a motion to transfer the case to the federal court in Amarillo. We will see what happens next.
I am in the process of migrating from my old website to this new blog. My purpose is to provide case law and commentary on criminal law and the war on drugs. Hopefully, you will find this new feature helpful.