From: Lanny Swerdlow, Director, Mariujuana Anti Prohibition Porject
Medical marijuana patient Don Lawrence, who has been in prison for over one and one-half months had his case dismissed last Friday. Unfortunately due to some kind of court to prison mix-up, he is still in jail. Hopefully we will be able to get him out on Monday.
As for what happened - it is all too bizarre.
Don was in jail and facing 25 years to life in prison because of totally incompetent defense by
the San Bernardino Public Defenders office. With only 12 plants, police claim of two pounds
(which is always absurd), an exceeds limit recommendation and two other patients he was growing for, the case should have been dismissed at the preliminary hearing. None of this evidence was introduced because his public defender didn't even show up and the public defender representing his son substituted and he knew nothing of Don's case and next to nothing about medical marijuana law.
Figuring that Don would continue to be represented by incompetent public defenders, the
prosecuting attorney tacked on a three strikes charge to scare Don into pleading guilty to a
lesser charge because Don knew all too well just how incompetent his public defenders were.
Putting his home up for collateral, we were able to raise the money to retain the services of
Zenia Gilg, whose illustrious string of successful defenses included Inland Empire patients
Marty Victor, David Markarian and Rich and Joanne McCabe. Ms. Gilg's prowess as a medical
marijuana defense attorney is well known by Inland Empire prosecutors.
Last week Ms. Gilg informed the San Bernardino DA's office that on Monday, April 5, she will be
filing for change of counsel and that she would now be Mr. Lawrence's attorney. This fact was
reported in an excellent story in the April 2 issue of the SB Sun and Inland Valley Daily
The same day the story comes out, I get a call from his public defender, that the SB DA's office
has moved to dismiss all the felony marijuana charges. Whatever hopes they had of facing up
against an ill-prepared public defender were dashed when they learned that Zenia Gilg would soon be Don's attorney. They lawyers in the DA's office are not stupid , they knew they didn't have a case against Don and they didn't want to be embarrassed by losing what, thanks to the SB Sun article, was going to become a high profile case.
Hopefully we will get Don out on Monday and he will be at the Wednesday Riverside MAPP meeting to celebrate his freedom with us.