MAPTalk-Digest Sunday, December 11 2005 Volume 05 : Number 148
001 Reducing Harm, was: MAP: Stop The Censorship
From: Richard Lake <>
002 LTE: Personal appeal for letters of support
From: "Larry Seguin" <>
Subj: 001 Reducing Harm, was: MAP: Stop The Censorship
From: Richard Lake <>
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2005 21:03:47 -0500
Truly the issue of redacting was well discussed and agreed on by a
large majority of the editors at MAP long ago, and the statement
designed by a lawyer.
The issue is at it's heart very simple. If we believe that the laws
and policies of the war on some drugs are wrong, and we do, how can
we in good conscience contribute to the harm to real people just
because they have been charged, not even convicted, of some drug crime?
I was thinking about this last night, had a hard time going to sleep.
I thought, what if? What if my son, a severely disabled vet, who has
both used and grown for himself medical cannabis in a state where it
is a crime, had been busted. What if the local rag had carried the
typical police reporter story with his name, age, and address? What
if MAP had archived the story?
Today a google search on his name would still turn up the story in
the MAP archives, even though it would long have not been available
from the local rag's website. And, unless the war is over, that would
be true a decade from now.
My son has had a very rough life. Every month I provide him with
funds so he can make ends meet. He can get very depressed. If the MAP
archived story caused him problems in life, as well it could, I am
not sure what the results could be. People do commit suicide when
life seems hopeless.
If I believed MAP had harmed my son, I would be working just as hard
to bring it down as I do now to support it, 40 to 60 hours in front
of this computer a week, handling about 800 arriving email messages a day.
Every person busted is somebody's kid. How can we contribute to the
harm done by media persecution, the painting of guilt in the press?
If we believe in what we are doing, we can't.
Editors may choose to not post small busts, those police reporter
stories, or they can redact the identifying information about the
people busted, as appropriate.
There simply is no reason to change this well thought out standard.
And, as I pointed out yesterday, if someone so badly needs to read
who was busted, they can go to the newspaper's website, if they go
while the story is still there.
At 08:13 PM 12/10/05, Allan Erickson wrote:
>I'm interested in hearing more. When both Givens and Seguin question
>something, I'm listening . Carry on! MAP is us all, after all...
>On Dec 9, 2005, at 6:42 PM, Larry Seguin wrote:
>>I agree with Redford too!
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: "SHeath(DPF Florida)" <>
>>Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 5:26 PM
>>Subject: Re: MAP: Stop The Censorship
>>>Hi Redford. I can appreciate how you formed your perceptions as written
>>>I too questioned this tactic at MAP when I was a volunteer Editor, since
>>>was the only example of MAP altering content in a posted clipping from a
>>>The best explanation I received was that our MAP URLs are permanently on
>>>the web, whereas most newspapers story links are not (though more are
>>>progressing that way).
>>>Thus, John Smith may get accused in his local community and MAP picks up
>>>the clipping and now its on the web forever.
>>>If Mr. Smith is later acquitted, or worse, if the case is dropped
>>>the local newspaper MIGHT carry an update, but it's very unlikely we would
>>>receive it at MAP.
>>>So for all future years, a simple Google Search of "John Smith" + HisTown
>>>USA would result in the searcher being directed to the clipping with the
>>>Yes, John could likely explain it if given a face to face opportunity, but
>>>there's a great chance he would never get that chance and his name would
>>>forerver sullied in the eyes of that inquirer. If such a person is a
>>>potential employer, or a child protective services employee etc, it could
>>>severely damage John.
>>>ANYONE who wants to know the name of the Redacted folks could with a
>>>click contact the newspaper and ask them directly.
>>>Not an easy issue and I would understand if perhaps my explanation above
>>>Your use of our resources at MAP and speficically your persistent effort
>>>use our site as an LTE conduit, are very very appreciated.
>>>Steve in Clearwater
>>>Media Activism Facilitator for DrugSense and
Subj: 002 LTE: Personal appeal for letters of support
From: "Larry Seguin" <>
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2005 10:53:08 -0500
US MI: Principal Plants Drugs Trying To Frame Student
US MI: Police Say Official Put Drugs In Locker
US MI: South Haven Administrator Quits After Marijuana Flap
Anyone that's been busted knows how the railroading works.
Maybe we can help Greg.
Fellow Common Sense Drug Law Activist:
I hope all will forgive me for taking the liberty of posting a personal
appeal on this list. I promise that I won't be making a regular habit
of it. But today I find myself in a real "situation," more than a
little bit scared and much in need of support from my friends in the
activist community. Tangible support, if at all possible, in the
form of letters to our County Prosecutor and District Judge.
As you may already be aware, I was previously employed as an
Elementary/Middle School Counselor in a small, very rural, very
conservative school district. At the same time I had been a long time,
high profile common sense drug law reform activist. Not surprisingly
my political activism created a certain amount of friction between
myself and the school administration. Over the years I had occasion to
discuss the matter with my principals and superintendent. While they
were not wildly enthusiastic about my activities I believe that over
time I had at least earned their begrudging respect for the sincerity,
logic and passion of my beliefs. We had been able to maintain an
uneasy peace on the matter.
Last school year (2004-05) I was re-assigned part time to a newly
constructed and newly staffed middle school. My new principal--a first
time principal trying to put together a brand new staff in a new
building--was grossly offended by my political activities--to her mind,
anyone who questioned the War on Drugs, Inc orthodoxy obviously wanted
to give crack to Kindergarteners with their morning milk. There simply
was no middle ground with that woman. She embarked on a campaign of low
level harassment and micro-managing my time and energies--nothing every
teacher hasn't personally experienced or at least seen go on between
professional staff & administration at one time or another. Goes with
the territory of public education, I just tried to put up with it. But
I did get an awfully big belly full of it after awhile.
On May 2nd, 2005 I was pulled out of the classroom and told that a
private drug dog had alerted to my truck. Again. I say "again" because
the drug dog always alerted to my truck. How convenient. And every
time I would consent to a search. Only the first time was anything ever
found--a dirty cup inside a trash bag which in turn was inside a whole
box full of trash on the seat. It held the dregs of a bottle of home
brewed hard cider, 2 oz or about 60 ml if I did the math correctly, of
dead yeast, sludge and solids that accumulate in the bottom of home
brewed beverages. Got 3 days unpaid suspension--first time in my life
I'd ever been suspended from school, btw--for that transgression.
After that I was scrupulous about never allowing any contraband or even
dirty returnable beer bottles in my truck.
Despite those precautions for some odd reason every time the school
would conduct a sweep of the school, the dog would alert to my truck.
Every time I would consent to the search. And every time the search
would come up empty. Correctly or incorrectly, I had the distinct
impression I was being targeted for special attention and call it
galloping paranoia but I ascribed that to a consequence of my activities
advocating for sensible drug policy.
Maybe because the end of a particularly difficult school year was
drawing to an end. Maybe I had just had a belly full of it. Whatever
the reason, rather than just rolling over again, surrendering one more
bit of my privacy and liberty and self esteem and just taking the easy
way out, this time I refused consent. A 2 1/2 hour stand-off ensued.
I politely but firmly refused consent to allow a search. I respectfully
demanded a warrant be secured prior to any search. I also knew that a
dog alert from a private handler was not sufficient to establish
Probable Cause, hence they couldn't get a warrant on the private drug
dog alert alone. It took bringing in a second dog from a neighboring
county's sheriff's dept which also mysteriously alerted to my truck--but
only after the deputy damned near kicked it in the ass to get it to pay
the slightest bit of attention to my truck. When first brought to the
truck the second dog showed no interest whatsoever. But when the dog
then changed its mind and "alerted" to my truck after all, I was ordered
to surrender my keys and submit to the search.
As would be expected, after putting them through all that, the search
was thorough. After pulling all sorts of boxes, coats, farm tools and
garbage out and strewing it about the pavement, the fruits of the search
were as follows:
* 1 green twig, approx 1 1/2" in length (~4cm). Just a twig, no leaf,
no bud, no glands. The cops said it was a cannabis stem. I said it
was either hops or alfalfa hay--I own a farm and grow both so the
presence of either would not be unusual. * 1 charred piece of cigarette
paper, approx half the size of the nail on my little finger. Nothing
inside the paper, just the scrap of burned paper itself. The cops said
it was an mj roach, I said it was the butt of one of my 24 year old
son's hand rolled tobacco cigarettes.
These two bits of "evidence" were duly bagged, tagged and sent off to
the Michigan State Police Crime Lab for analysis.
I was then told to return to my normal duties and go about my business
as though nothing had happened, pending lab results. I felt it much
more prudent--for my own mental equilibrium as well as the safety of my
students--to immediately go on medical leave. After a couple weeks of
to-ing and fro-ing the superintendent gave me the option of resigning or
being fired. The lab results were not back yet but in the interim, the
school's attorneys had done some digging and discovered that I had been
convicted of "attempted use of MJ," in 1989, a fact I had neglected to
mention when I applied for the job in 1999. Hadn't mentioned it
because I thought it was supposed to have been expunged after completing
the terms of my sentence ($50 fine and no further police contact for a
year). Turns out that it had not been expunged after all, so I was
still carrying around the label, "Drug Criminal." Interestingly enough,
this old conviction had shown up on the Michigan State Police criminal
background check the school did on me when I was hired but at the time
the administration hadn't been sufficiently alarmed by the original
conviction or my failure to disclose it to put them off from hiring
me. They had been sitting on this for 5 years with the full knowledge
they could always pull this out and whale me over the head with it if
Anyway, I decided to just take the easy way and resign. I was pretty
sour on the district anyway and school counselors are a high demand
specialty here in Michigan. I figured I could find another post easy
enough. The school district really just wanted me to go away
quietly. The superintendent told the MEA (union) Uni-Serve Director for
this part of the state that they didn't want any, "scandal." Ya,
imagine if this had hit the papers, eh? "School Counselor nabbed with
a tooth pick sized green stick and a charred fragment inside parked,
locked truck. Could he be a dealer?" So the deal was, if I resigned
they would allow me to remain on paid medical leave for the remainder of
the contract year. And that the school would exert any power they had
with the County Prosecutor to head off criminal charges related to the
seizures from my truck. Not that the school gave a rat's ass about me,
they just wanted me to go away and really didn't want it showing up in
As far as I was concerned, that was the end of that. I resigned. A
week or so late the lab results came back. A morphological exam of the
stem was presumptive for cannabis. The lab report made no mention of
the charred bit of paper, nor has there ever been since. By all
appearances it has simply evaporated. At the time I really
questioned the "presumptive" cannabis determination--a stripped stem
alone is not enough to make a conclusive identification of cannabis.
But as far as I was concerned the point was moot. I had resigned and
was moving on.
In early July I was arrested and charged with a 4 yr felony for a "Drug
Free School Zone, second offense," violation. I ended up spending a
weekend in jail, another first for me. I was held on a $5,000 cash
bond--no 10% surety, they wanted 5,000 hard, cold, cash dollars. So
there I sat all weekend watching a steady parade of wife beaters, meth
cooks and previous absconders come and go on bonds ranging from $100 to
$500. Obviously I, an accused marijuana criminal, posed a greater risk
to the community than someone brandishing a handgun in a tavern.
The outpouring of support from MI-NORML was overwhelming; a dozen
members and fellow travelers showed up on very short notice just for my
arraignment. The court did notice. A couple weeks later I went in
for my first hearing. The prosecutor offered to accept a plea to
misdemeanor simple possession. I declined--said I wanted this farce
ended and all charges dropped or to go to a full jury trial on the
original felony charge. I simply did not believe a jury given the
evidence--a 1 1/2 inch green twig and nothing more--would go along with
sending me to state penitentiary for 4 years. Besides, we've all heard
it a hundred times from the drug war cheerleaders, nobody in this
country goes to prison for simple possession of MJ. Do they? .
Late in August, I showed up for a Preliminary Hearing on the felony
charge. At that time the County Prosecutor informed my attorney that
the charge was being reduced to a misdeamenor, simple possession. I
could still have my jury trial since I was refusing to be reasonable and
take the plea bargain, but they had decided not to press for the Drug
Free School Zone felony. Good news I suppose but still and all I
couldn't help but reflect on the coincidence of the timing--the new
school year had just begun the previous week and with a drug felony
charge hanging over me all summer, I was barred by state law from even
being considered for employment elsewhere. Now--a week after school
had begun--I could begin my job search.
In late November I had another hearing. This one was to consider a
Motion to Suppress Evidence. The search itself was clearly illegal and
I was detained at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the back of a police car
until they could get up enough nerve to go ahead and search my truck
despite my well articulated (and well documented in each of their
individual incident reports) refusal to give consent. They never did
get a warrant, btw. You know, I really thought it was a slam dunk, that
the circumstances of the search were so obviously illegal and my
detention so patently excessive that the evidence would be thrown out
and this entire thing would be over. In other words, and in all candor,
I really didn't take it seriously.
That was a mistake. I did not line up any support. I did not take
people up on their previous offers to write letters. I didn't ask any
one or even my wife to come to court as a show of support. The only
person in the gallery was a homeless guy, come in off the street to warm
up. The hearing did not go my way. The judge ruled (I believe
wrongly) that the initial dog alert did establish Probable Cause. This
despite the fact that the handler testified that there had been several
other alerts to staff vehicles that day and a search of each came up
blank AND that the dog was trained to alert not just to illegal drugs
but also to gun powder residues (I live in the country, I farm and I
hunt wild game. There was a box of shot gun shells in the glove box,
something really not that unusual out here in the sticks). The handler
also admitted that the dog would alert to prescription meds and even
dirty beer bottles. All perfectly legal products for me, an adult, to
have in my locked truck, parked in a school lot. The judge ruled
Probable Cause had been established despite the fact that even the cops
had admitted on the stand that they had to bring in a second dog
specifically because private dog alerts do not establish Probable
Cause. But the judge decided the first dog alert established Probable
The judge also ruled that my detention in the back of the cop car was
not only voluntary but was done as a favor to me. See, it was cold that
day, temps hovering around 40 F/5C and blustery. So the cops were just
being nice by telling me to sit in the back of the cop car for an hour
and a half and in full view of classroom windows rather than letting me
go back into the (heated) school building. I guess I'm just an
ingrate for not appreciating their concern for my comfort.
I am now scheduled to go to trial on Jan 19th. It may be too late, but
I really need a visible show of support. For those living in Michigan
or northern Indiana, the trail will be in 7th District Court, 1007 Wells
Street, South Haven. If anyone is able to make the trip, just your
presence in the courtroom will send a strong message. As an added
bonus, an after party is scheduled at the Willow Ranch that evening.
Hopefully it will be a victory celebration but either way I can promise
a good time with lots of home brew and good fellowship. Maybe Tim B
can even take us over to view his new holdings--he's a land owner in Van
Buren County now (welcome to the neighborhood, Tim. Just don't tell
anybody you're a weekender from "the city." The most popular bumper
sticker around here last summer was, "If it's tourist season, why can't
we shoot them?")
For those unable to make the trip, I could really use letters of
support. Well, not letters sent to me. Letters sent to the Prosecutor
and the Judge, copies to my attorney. I would hope that any letters be
polite and to the point (optimally 1 page, 2 max) but I'm not picky
either. The real point here is to make the court aware that whatever
they do to me they do it in the glare of full light. Getting a stack
of letters from around the US, Canada and even N.Z. & OZ, Asia and
Europe should send the message clearly enough. And not unrealistic
given the fact we have members of this list spread all around the globe.
Suggested tacks letters might take:
* Waste of time and resources. It took 5 police officers and a dog
(plus an additional dog handler and her dog) to search my truck. Two
more officers to drive out to my farm to arrest me in July. I got to
enjoy the county's hospitality in the Gray Bar Hotel for a weekend. At
least two prosecutors, plus their support staff have worked on this.
An arraignment, one hearing to waive my Preliminary Hearing and another
to have the charges dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor-each of which
required the time of a judge, a clerk, a prosecutor, various support
personnel as well as a courtroom. Last week's hearing tied up 3 cops, a
judge, a clerk and the courtroom for an entire afternoon. The upcoming
trial will waste still more people's time and county resources. For
a 5 cm long stem.
* Why is the county so intent on prosecuting this when even the school
district has asked them not to? What purpose is served?
* Prosecuting this matter, in light of the paucity of actual evidence,
is a transparent attempt to retaliate against me for not consenting to
the search as well as an effort to punish me for my political activities
and suppress future activities.
* Just being arrested and charged with this heinous crime has already
cost me my job, my standing in the community and put my professional
career on hold. My pension is also kaput now--I was just short of the
10 yr minimum necessary to be vested. What more does the county want?
Haven't I been punished enough?
* I also think it worth pointing out that this is all taking place in
the same district court (different judge) that declined to prosecute Pat
Conroy a year and a half ago. To refresh memories, Conroy was Vice
Principal of L.C. Mohr (South Haven) Public H.S. There was a student
that Conroy knew was dealing at school but he just couldn't catch the
kid. So, following the example set by the Mad Cowboy himself--you know
who the evil doer is but no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem
to dig up any solid evidence--Conroy simply made up his own own
"proof." He planted a bag of pot in the kid's locker and then called in
the South Haven Police drug dog for a "random" search. When the dog
didn't alert Conroy went back later and removed the pot. Then a couple
months later he bragged about what he had done to the dog handler when
they happened to run into each other at a school basketball game. A
subsequent search of his school office turned up several "packages" of
mj, amounting to "somewhat less" than one ounce total. Conroy was
charged but charges were later dropped on the grounds a) the cop he was
bragging to didn't stop him when he started talking about it so all his
statements were suppressed and b) since the dog never alerted, the kid
was never harmed. Essentially, no harm, no foul. Conroy meant well and
his actions were in pursuit of a higher good. Conroy was given a free
pass after being caught with actual mj in his school office, not just a
stem that may or may not be cannabis, AND after making no bones of the
fact that his intent was to harm a student whereas no one can say any
student was harmed (or even aware) by the contents of my parked, locked
truck. Certainly no intent to cause harm to a student. I probably
sound like one of my own students here but that just does not seem
fair. Actual copies of the police reports about the Conroy incident can
be found at: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/teachpot1.html
My case # is: 0500883 and my full name is: Gregory Dale Francisco.
Please include those references in any correspondence. Letters may be
Assistant Prosecutor, Van Buren County
1007 Wells St
PO Box 311
South Haven, MI 49090
Judge Arthur Clarke III
7th District Court
1007 Wells St
PO Box 311
South Haven, MI 49090
Please send a copy to:
Attorney Roman Plaszczak
181 West Michigan Ave
Paw Paw, MI 49079
I truly appreciate any help fellow travelers can give me in this matter.
Paw Paw, MI 49079 USA
End of MAPTalk-Digest V05 #148
Mark Greer () ___ ___ _ _ _ _
Media Awareness Project /' _ ` _ `\ /'_`)('_`\
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