Saturday, May 20, 2017

Slow Saturday Special: SJC on THC

After some of their rulings I often think they should try it:

"SJC looks at marijuana sobriety tests for drivers" by Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff  January 06, 2017

In a state that just legalized the recreational use of marijuana, can field sobriety tests used to determine whether drivers are drunk also be administered to demonstrate that a person is too high to operate a motor vehicle?

The state Supreme Judicial Court on Friday took up that question in a case that is being closely watched by police and advocates for marijuana legalization.

The justices also heard arguments over whether police officers can give jurors their opinion of whether a driver is drugged on marijuana.

The debate comes in the case of Thomas Gerhardt, 25, who is fighting charges of operating under the influence of marijuana. The court took the matter under advisement and will issue its decision later.

Gerhardt’s lawyer said there is no scientific evidence correlating a driver’s performance on field sobriety tests and impaired driving in cases where marijuana use is suspected.

“The point here is that in alcohol cases they have shown a correlation,” attorney Rebecca A. Jacobstein said. “But there is nothing in that for marijuana.”

Lawyer Michelle R. King, who represents Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., disagreed, arguing that jurors should be allowed to hear about field sobriety testing when a driver is accused of driving high.

She said three recent studies have shown connections between poor performance in field sobriety tests and some level of tetrahydrocannabinol in the blood. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Says who?

“The police officer may then testify, as they do in alcohol-related impairment cases, that these were my observations when the driver performed the field sobriety tests and it is my opinion that the driver’s driving abilities were diminished,” King said.

Gerhardt was charged after being pulled over at about 12:20 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2013 in Millbury, court papers show. A State Police trooper stopped Gerhardt because he was driving with his vehicle’s rear lights off, the papers said.

The trooper detected the odor of burnt marijuana inside the vehicle, and Gerhardt acknowledged there were “a couple of roaches” in the ashtray, according to the papers.


He later told the trooper that he had smoked about a gram of marijuana three hours beforehand, the court records show.


During the stop, Gerhardt performed field sobriety tests. He successfully recited the alphabet, and counted numbers backward. He showed no signs of involuntary jerking or bouncing in the eyes when asked to follow a slow moving object like a pen or flashlight horizontally, symptoms that officers look for during roadside tests, court papers said.

But Gerhardt performed poorly when asked to stand on one leg and take nine steps in a straight line and turn, leading the trooper to conclude that he was impaired and under the influence of marijuana, court papers said.

During a search of Gerhardt’s vehicle, police said they found roaches and a marijuana stem.

Jacobstein argued that a police officer’s assessment of whether a driver safely operated a motor vehicle cannot stand alone when marijuana use is suspected.

Jurors need to hear from experts on this issue, she said, because the average person isn’t familiar with the physical manifestations of marijuana use and how it impacts driving ability.

“It’s not particularly helpful to the jury to hear that the officer thinks that he’s high,” Jacobstein said. “If they don’t have a general understanding of what the physical characteristics of being high are and how that correlates to driving, then all they’re doing is they’re just speculating as to what that means.”

King said expert testimony is unnecessary because marijuana use is so widespread.

“It is a common experience of a juror that an expert is not required to explain,” she said.

Justice Geraldine S. Hines asked how police could testify about field sobriety tests when scientists have not reached a consensus on their reliability despite new studies that found they can show impaired driving when marijuana use is involved.

“The 2016 studies that you are talking about would just add to the mix of different opinions about this,” she said. “It wouldn’t be dispositive or conclusive.”

Gerhardt has support from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML and the National College for DUI Defense, Inc.


Problem with a test is it is in your system for something like 14 days.

RelatedPolice fear boost in impaired drivers with passing of marijuana law

Well, if you can't tell they are impaired.... then they are not, right? 

What's the big issue, and honestly, I'd rather they be stoned rather than drunk.

Ditch the pipe!

"SJC upholds conviction in fatal 2000 Everett bombing" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  January 13, 2017

The state’s highest court on Friday upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a Medford handyman who killed a waitress he was obsessed with by sending her a pipe bomb that exploded inside her home in 2000.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that Steven S. Caruso was properly convicted for the murder of Sandra Berfield, a 32-year-old Everett woman who had spurned Caruso’s advances and suffered through stalking and harassment for years before she was killed.

Caruso’s attorney argued on appeal that Caruso’s trial was flawed because the jury wrongly heard testimony from a jailhouse informant and because he was not in Everett when the bomb, masked as a package from a relative, was dropped off at Berfield’s home....


Maybe if he had only smoked.... but then he wouldn't be working:

"When an Everett man tried to defraud the state’s online unemployment system repeatedly over a period of many months, seeking more than $1.8 million in payments, it was not the agency’s $46 million software system that caught him. It was a human. Edison Delarosa, 52, was arrested and charged with mail fraud and wire fraud in Boston last week, the US attorney’s office announced late Friday. He managed to receive six checks worth a total of $27,227 from the Department of Unemployment Assistance, officials reported. But he allegedly tried to get 136 fraudulent payments, exploiting a weakness in the system that let him submit bogus payments online in order to generate refunds. The department actually cut him 15 paper checks totaling nearly $1.3 million, but an employee noticed Delarosa’s name showing up too many times and stopped the checks. The online unemployment system, built by Deloitte Consulting of New York, has since been updated to halt this particular scheme. The system, which was plagued with problems when it was rolled out in 2013, has eliminated other types of fraud, said Robert T. Cunningham, director of the unemployment division."

They also $crewed up Rhode Island's welfare system!

Maybe you want to take a ride over there?

"Developer allegedly tried to seize control of car dealership" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  March 17, 2017

A Nahant developer with a criminal record, who was associated with a questionable land swap in Everett that nearly derailed the $2.1 billion Wynn casino project there, is accused of hiring a convicted felon to assault the owner of a Route 1 car dealership in an attempt to extort ownership of the business.

Gary P. DeCicco, who was charged in federal court in Boston on Friday, also allegedly had flowers sent to the victim in a vase in the shape of the cross with an anti-Muslim note attached, in an apparent attempt to intimidate the victim, according to court records.

In court filings, FBI Special Agent Matthew D. Elio described a long-running effort by DeCicco to seize control of the dealership.

The victim and DeCicco have known each other since at least 2005, when the victim purchased what was then a vacant lot from DeCicco for $750,000, court papers said. The sale was based on the condition that DeCicco help the victim acquire the necessary permits to build a car dealership on the site.

The land was vacant until the permits were acquired in 2013, when construction began. According to the FBI, DeCicco told the victim at that time that he wanted to be partners — he would store exotic cars on the lot, to help generate business — but the victim refused to let him participate, leading to the alleged extortion attempt.

DeCicco allegedly used an intermediary to hire a man to beat the victim, who was attacked inside the dealership on Jan. 11, 2015. The victim and the dealership were not identified in court records. The assailant is now cooperating with the FBI.

DeCicco was taken into custody by FBI agents and troopers from the State Police Special Services section on Friday. After a brief appearance in federal court, he was ordered held without bail pending a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday. He was not arraigned and no plea was entered on his behalf. His lawyer would not comment.

DeCicco has also been convicted of fraud related to fire on a property he owned and has been called a suspect in other fires, though he has not been charged with arson. He has also had disputes with the government over a million dollars in unpaid taxes.

DeCicco, the Globe has reported, also had ties to Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, and had the mayor’s support when he sought approval for a controversial apartment building in Everett....


Another felon, Charles Lightbody, was a former owner of the land in Everett along the Mystic River where the Wynn casino is now under construction, and the Globe reported Lightbody was acquitted last year.

What a muddle, huh?

"Shoveler and plow operator go head-to-head in Brockton" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  March 16, 2017

The standoff between shoveler and driver was captured on surveillance video. The incident became so contentious that it eventually led to the city’s mayor severing ties with the contractor who had hired the plow operator to clear up Brockton’s streets.

The video was posted by Iuri Veiga’s father, Jov Veiga, on Facebook Tuesday. It shows two people in a driveway as a plow clearing the street approaches.

Veiga, 21, can be seen with a shovel standing near the street and waving the driver past the end of the driveway. But the plow stops short.

“I put the shovel on top of the snow and asked him if he [could] skip my house and do the others, because I was in a rush to take the snow out of there so my dad [could] leave,” Veiga explained.

The driver is then seen inching the plow closer, leaving a mess of graying slush, in what appeared to be an intentional effort to block the driveway.

Veiga said the driver angrily swerved around him. He made a U-turn at the end of the road, collected snow from the opposite side of the street, and then angled his plow directly at Veiga, the plow and snow coming within just feet of him.

The truck then backs up, the video shows, receding from the camera’s view. Suddenly, it reappears with a fresh pile of snow, adding insult to injury.

And then he does it a third time.

After the video on Facebook went semi-viral, and was picked up by The Brockton Enterprise, the city got involved....

They fired him!


I know the first place I'm going if I had been fired:

"ABCC leader stepping down on eve of reform launch" by Dan Adams Globe Staff  January 13, 2017

Kim Gainsboro, chairwoman of the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission since 2008, will step down next week, just before the launch of an effort to reform the agency and the byzantine rules it enforces.

The long-serving administrator and adjudicator said she decided to take a job in banking after nearly 20 years in the public sector, including as a county prosecutor.

Gainsboro’s departure comes as Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose office oversees the ABCC, prepares to convene a task force to recommend changes to the commission and the state’s complex alcohol laws.

A replacement for Gainsboro has not yet been named, but Goldberg hinted she may make a interim appointment from within the ABCC so the agency can keep up with a full calendar of hearings on alleged liquor law violations by bars and other license-holders. A permanent leader would then be named later this year.

The reform effort was prompted by a handful of high-profile controversies that have cast the state’s regulation of alcohol in a negative light. They include a flap last summer over the licensing status of the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton and a 2011 debate over whether craft breweries had to source ingredients from within Massachusetts.

Gainsboro acknowledged that, under her leadership, the ABCC had made some unpopular decisions — in particular the Nashoba incident, which prompted a frustrated Governor Charlie Baker to publicly scold the agency — but said she was often handcuffed by the state’s outdated and convoluted liquor laws.

“If you had regulators ignoring the law and instead putting in place what they think is right, that would not be a good thing,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to do — and personally, you may have a different opinion about it — but you have to follow the law.”

Observers agreed that many of the problems stem from the legislature’s failure to update the laws, and added that there have been important behind-the-scenes improvements at the ABCC, including streamlining license renewals and other processes. They praised Gainsboro for bringing stability and professionalism to an agency previously seen as bumbling and hostile to businesses.

“Kim Gainsboro undoubtedly brought a more business-friendly culture and attitude that was very refreshing,” said John Connell, a Boston liquor lawyer who has practiced before the commission for decades. “She was not looking to make it difficult for licensees, and everyone who worked for her was helpful, which was not something you could have said during the previous 10 or 15 years.”

Gainsboro said she supported the idea of having an independent committee scrutinize the ABCC and the state’s alcohol laws. But she cautioned the reformers to be precise when tinkering with the state’s interrelated alcohol laws, recalling that careless wording in a 2014 measure legalizing the home delivery of wine from out-of-state vineyards accidentally made it illegal for small Massachusetts vineyards to deliver their own wines to nearby restaurants.

“You make a little change, and despite your altruistic motives, you end up negatively impacting a whole slew of people,” she said. “You have to go in with a scalpel rather than a hatchet.”

Then I've failed.


What a treasure, huh?

Related: Jean Lorizio, a lawyer at Boston Licensing Board, to run state ABCC

How the hell are they gonna regulate weed when they are spilling drinks all over the place?