Public Defenders Testify Anderson was Targeted  

  Public Defenders Testify Anderson was Targeted  

Posted by FoM on April 09, 2001 at 09:18:15 PT
By Chris Loos, Tribune-Herald  
Source: Hawaii-Tribune Herald  

Hemp advocate was charged for having seeds commonly sold in stores. Three members of the Public Defenders office testified Friday about what they believe is evidence of selective prosecution against Aaron Anderson for buying a product found in bird seed and spices. Anderson, a Big Island hemp and marijuana advocate, is suing the county for $1 million, alleging that prosecutors were politically motivated when they obtained a grand jury indictment against him for felony drug possession in 1992. 
Charges against Anderson and Roger Christie came after a drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to a package containing 25 pounds of hemp seeds at the Hilo Federal Express office. The hemp plant is related to marijuana. Christie was eventually dropped from the case and Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura dismissed Anderson's charges after his 1998 trial ended in a hung jury. In a civil trial before Federal Judge Kevin Chang in Honolulu, Deputy Public Defender Neilani Graham testified Friday that she was the first attorney assigned to defend Anderson against his criminal charges. Graham said Anderson told her he ordered the shipment of hemp seeds from Specialty Commodities Inc., a North Dakota company, after Anderson and Christie attended a hemp festival in San Francisco. "The hemp seed that Mr. Anderson ordered was to be ground into flour," she said. Graham said the Drug Enforcement Administration later investigated Specialty Commodities Inc. to see if it was a "contraband company" and gave it "a clean bill of health." After Anderson's indictment, Graham learned that several Big Island establishments sold hemp seeds legally. She assigned an investigator from her office, Lane Yoshida, to purchase seeds from Miranda Country Store for use as evidence in Anderson's defense. "I was trying to prove that anybody could do what Mr. Anderson did," she said. Yoshida testified that he found hemp seeds in bird seed and in Asian spices that were for sale in Hilo stores. At a 1995 court hearing in Hilo, at which Yoshida planned to introduce the seeds as evidence, Deputy Prosecutor Kay Iopa threatened Yoshida that if he did so, she would charge him with knowingly possessing marijuana, Graham testified. Because of the threat, "Our office had to withdraw from Mr. Anderson's case," she said. Under questioning by Anderson's attorney, Steven Strauss, Graham also said prosecutors never provided her with a copy of a February 1993 memorandum from attorney Robert Garcia to Iopa. The memo referred to a telephone conversation in which Iopa apparently agreed not to prosecute Miranda Country Store for selling hemp seeds. Another Hilo attorney, Anthony Bartholomew, testified that he was assigned to be Anderson's court-appointed lawyer in March 1997 after the Public Defender's office withdrew from the criminal case. Bartholomew, who now works for the Public Defender's office himself, said that although prosecutors are required by law to turn over any evidence that might help in a suspect's defense, he never saw the memo about Miranda Country Store. Graham testified that Strauss - who represented Christie in the criminal case - offered to drop Christie's civil lawsuit against the county if prosecutors dismissed the charges against his client. According to Graham, Iopa told Strauss that any plea agreement would require a condition that Anderson and Christie stop writing letters to the editor about their case. Graham testified that the requirement would be a violation of Anderson's constitutional right to free speech. "I suppose what really upset me was that she would even have the nerve to baldly state that as a condition," Graham said. "It was outrageous." Under cross examination by Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela, Graham conceded that no such condition was ever imposed on Anderson because no plea agreement was reached. Graham also said she never informed Iopa's bosses about the alleged constitutional violation. She further acknowledged that Iopa's proposed condition has not stopped Anderson from continuing his outspoken support of hemp. Bartholomew testified that when he took over as Anderson's lawyer, he found bird seed that contained hemp seeds at Wal-Mart, Long's, Payless Drugstore and Woolworth's. "As far as I was aware, none of these establishments were being prosecuted or even investigated for prosecution, which became evidence that Mr. Anderson was the victim of selective prosecution," Bartholomew said. Under cross examination, Bartholomew acknowledged that the seed at those stores was labeled as bird seed. Kamelamela is apparently trying to show the jury that the stores didn't have illegal purposes in mind when selling the product. After the trio from the Public Defenders office finished testifying, Iopa took the witness stand. Although Strauss called Iopa as a witness for the defense, it became clear early in her testimony that the two lawyers still maintain an adversarial relationship. Kamelamela objected several times to Strauss' "argumentative" questions to the witness. At one point Iopa objected on her own, prompting Judge Chang to admonish Iopa to let the lawyers do their jobs. After the jurors left the courtroom for the day, Chang asked Strauss to focus on the issues. "Try not to engage in a running gun battle," he said. Chang also suggested that Kamelamela speak to Iopa about her habit of volunteering information and being "nonresponsive." Earlier, Iopa testified that she was assigned to Anderson's criminal case in early 1992. "The basis for the accusation and the indictment was that Mr. Anderson possessed approximately 23 pounds of marijuana," Iopa said. "Under state law, all parts of the marijuana plant - including the seeds - are marijuana." Iopa said that police germinated some of Anderson's hemp seeds. "The seeds were not just seeds," she said. "The seeds grew into plants and 23 pounds of them had the ability to grow into very many plants." Strauss asked Iopa what evidence she has that Anderson had the "intention or capacity to grow hundreds of thousands of plants." Iopa said the purchase of the seeds was evidence. She added that Anderson told police he planned to feed people food made from hemp "to throw the piss test out the window," a reference to urine tests for the presence of marijuana. In addition, Iopa said, "there was his statement that he thought hemp should be used for food, fiber, and fun." Iopa will likely resume the stand when the trial continues Tuesday. Both she and Prosecuting Attorney Jay Kimura were originally named as defendants but were dropped from the case because they were engaged in their official duties during Anderson's prosecution. Hawaii County remains the sole defendant in the lawsuit. Source: Hawaii-Tribune Herald (HI)Author: Chris LoosPublished: April 8, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Hawaii Tribune Herald Contact: editor Website: Related Article:Pot Shots Traded in Hemp Case Hemp Archives 

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Comment #4 posted by Steven Strauss on April 14, 2001 at 15:07:07 PT:

Anderson v. County of Hawai'i
Thank you for carrying coverage of the trial. For more information and to review some of the evidence in the case, please see, a site operated by Aaron Anderson's supporters.Aloha, Steven StraussTrial Counsel for Aaron Anderson
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Comment #3 posted by Rev. Jonathan Adler on April 11, 2001 at 12:36:05 PT:

Aloha!! The rest of the story that you may find interesting is that the "selective prosecution list" had another name on it, who was targeted by Police and Prosecutors because of his outspoken advocacy for legal use within EXISTING statute in Hawaii! During the same time period, I was arrested for cultivation, while waving at citizens on the roadway during my campaign for County Council. Politically motivated? I also ran for Mayor in '96 and'2000 while operating a legal healing ministry with cannabis and running the Hawaii Medical Marjuana Institute and Cannabis Club! I was arrested the second time on Dec. 23, 1999 and still no charges and still no jury trial on the 89 plants they stole from me on Aug. 28, 1998. The same Judge Nakamura who dismissed Anderson's case refused to allow me a medical defense and said so in chambers and in open court! Me thinks they are scared to let my defense speak for itself! What's Up! Prosecutor, should I tell the truth, that you obtained a Grand Jury indictment against me WITHOUT mentioning my medical condition, prescriptions for cannabis use or my Public Medical Marijuana Farm!(Clearly Exculpatory Evidence!) The fix was in and it still is. Bravo Aaron and Roger, I hope you are successful, because I am right behind you, next in line for justice! Aloha! Rev./ Jonathan Adler*Anderson's case was about $50 worth of birdseed!The Police have already stolen 675 medical marijuana Plants they valued at $1,000 each! No wonder they don't want me to present the truth in Court!
Hawaii Medical Marijuana Institute
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Comment #2 posted by Sudaca on April 10, 2001 at 14:32:48 PT

hmm I know what those guys have to do..
Cop a plea, make a deal. Let's see; maybe Iopa can cut a deal if she rats on the DA at the time, maybe she can collaborate by getting some higher official to persecute Long Drugs for beign stocked with "marijuana" in the form of mislabelled bird seed. Then, when the bigwig is exposed as an idiot, she can be pulled out and taken somewhere else to repeat the stunt. oh.. no. the sole defendant is the county, I wonder if they can offer a deal to the county.:-)
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Comment #1 posted by observer on April 09, 2001 at 12:33:39 PT

Prosecutors' Star-Chambers In Honolulu Also?
 prosecutors were politically motivated when they obtained a grand jury indictment against him for felony drug possession Do the prosecutors coach grand juries there also, using secret, closed, prosecutor-to-jury testimony. Like corrupted prosecutors do in other parts of the land of the "free"?see SECRET GRAND JURY BRIEFINGS STIR LEGAL ISSUES``Grand juries in at least six Oregon counties routinely received briefings from off-the-record witnesses about drugs before weighing evidence in specific cases. Now criminal defense attorneys across Oregon are preparing to challenge felony indictments from grand jurors who heard such "indoctrination testimony." . . . the secret process in which a handful of citizens decide who shall stand trial and for what crimes. . . . Prosecutors say the secret briefings provide an efficient way of answering questions . . .''Secret Grand Jury Briefings Stir Legal Issues ``Testimony on Friday revealed that narcotics detectives provided two- to three-hour secret orientations about drugs to Josephine County grand jurors. They then often reappeared later before those grand juries as witnesses in specific cases and sometimes received tips from grand jurors about drug crimes.Defense attorneys claim such orientations about drugs and sexual abuse prejudiced grand jurors. . . .''Detectives Prejudiced Jurors  
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