OMG the cal supreme court reversed a conviction. nice.

published today. People v. Davis. Out of LA.  The issue according to the court is: “Specifically, may a jury properly infer that 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is controlled based solely on its chemical name, when that substance is not listed in the code? We conclude that evidence of MDMA‟s chemical name, standing alone, is insufficient to prove the material is a controlled substance.”

it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, ok maybe it does take a scientist but not a rocket one, to prove that MDMA has the properties of the controlled substances prohibited under the Health and Safety Code.

So the brainiac prosecutor in this case is 100% responsible for this lovely victory for the defense and for the complete waste of our tax dollars that went to prosecuting a person for selling two ecstasy pills to an undercover cops then for defending that shitshow of a prosecution on appeal. if they try the case again, then we will have to pay for that too.

so the gist of the opinion is this. the criminalist at the trial said ya i tested dem pills and they was mdma / ectasy.  the da failed to elicit from the criminalist what drugs make up mdma.  (don’t feel bad for the da … they have plenty of time to talk to their criminalist before the person is on the stand and say hey i never took chemistry or ecstacy, what the hell is in it??? and we ought to expect that the criminalist’s fucking written report that the DA definitely had or could have had stated what percentage was meth or regular amphetamine or whatever). unless, of course, the DA knew that this particular ecstacy was bunk and that’s why the DA didn’t elicit the necessary testimony….so i guess either you believe the DA graduated from the harvard equivelent of moron school or the DA is SUPER SKETCHY and intentionally hid exculpatory evidence/lied.

So back to the opinion what’s the problem with not eliciting the chemical properties of the MDMA? Oh, a little thing called due process and the right to a jury trial! there needs to  actually be evidence that what you did was a crime or, more specifically, what you sold was actually a drug that the law prohibits you from selling.

a less slang way of saying this is that the problem was that there was no evidence supporting the verdict that MDMA has the chemical properties of any of the substances listed prohibited by law. so the jury essentially went “well the criminalist said it is MDMA….MDMA is probably illegal….the prosecutor gave us a piece of paper with the crime…so let’s check guilty.”  The jury could not have said what it needed to “the criminalist said it is MDMA, an element of the offense is that MDMA is a prohibited substance, a prohibited substance is something that contains an quantity of a controlled substance or is an analog, we heard credible evidence that MDMA has that controlled substance in it or analog, therefore D is guilty.”  the couldn’t have done this because the prosecutor did not present that evidence.

So, this opinion is common sense. Unfortunately, i suspect the legislature will amend the statute to list MDMA so this whole issue can be avoided (unless anyone knows why the haven’t done so already? is there a reason? Cause it seems like this would have happened in the 90s.)  Second unfortunately, this actually had to go to the Supreme Court because the court of appeals was like this is fine and dandy. jurors have common sense. everyone knows ecstasy contains controlled substances. proof shmoof. if only i were joking.

D got 90 days of county jail. so i assume unless he got a stay he has served that already. oh well. dear DA, you really dropped the ball on this one. and also, stop sending people jail for selling drugs. 2 ecstasy pills? really? who cares???

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

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