Pot-TV News anchor and US Marijuana Party president Loretta Nall was found guilty of two misdemeanor drug charges in Alabama on February 10, 2004.
Nall immediately appealed the convictions, claiming police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.
The activist’s legal problems began in November 2002, when the Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force raided her home while she and her family were absent. Police claim to have found .87 grams of marijuana, which is barely enough to roll a small joint. They also seized rolling papers and a pair of scales that Nall used for weighing candle-making ingredients.
The raid was led by Officer Eric McCain, a policeman stationed at Horseshoe Bend Elementary School, where Nall’s daughter was attending kindergarten. In an affidavit filed before the raid, McCain claimed that community complaints, a pro-pot letter to a newspaper written by Nall, and alleged statements made by Nall’s daughter Bell caused him to believe that the Nalls were growing marijuana.
During and after the trial, however, McCain and presiding District Court Judge Kim Taylor gave confusing, contradictory versions of what Bell allegedly said.
“Her daughter had leaves at school for a project and stated that she had other leaves she wanted to bring but her mother said those leaves are illegal,” Taylor said after the trial.
“Judge Taylor was asleep during the trial, and he has no business stating as fact something which is merely an unproven assertion made by police in a situation where the facts are in question and his decision to find me guilty is being appealed,” Nall countered.
“My daughter was five years old at the time. She didn’t say anything about illegal leaves, and we didn’t have any marijuana in our home. None! The entire case against me is based on lies. If the judge had been awake and fair, he would have thrown out the charges and the search warrant. Problem is, he is the same stupid judge who signed the search warrant, so if he had thrown it out, he would have been admitting he made an error.”
Trial transcripts reveal a glaring lack of credibility in McCain’s testimony about Bell’s statements, as well as his assertions about informants and other crucial information.
Another officer testified that Nall and her husband pulled up in their car during the raid, and that Nall leapt out of the car saying, “That’s my medicine, I use it for insomnia.”
Nall says she had never before seen the officer who testified, and that she never admitted to possessing marijuana.
Other trial irregularities include a claim by prosecutor Damon Lewis that the scales seized from Nall’s home “can only be used for weighing drugs; they have no other purpose.”
After the trial, Horseshoe Bend principal Roger Swann defended McCain, but Nall said that Swann, McCann, teachers, and police officers have conspired to harass and interrogate Bell Nall.
“I found out last year that the husband of Bell’s new teacher was a police officer who had been luring Bell to a secluded area of the schoolyard to interrogate her about my husband and I,” Nall said. “I had previously told Swann in writing that nobody was to question my children at school. After the trial, Bell’s former teacher, Mrs Shaw, came up to Bell in the lunchroom and tried to discuss the case with her. All along, they have been trying to take my children away from me. I am going to file a lawsuit against these people for what they have done to my family.”
Judge Taylor sentenced Nall to 30 days in jail, suspended for one year, and $250 in fines. If she loses her appeals court trial, which will be heard by a jury instead of just by a judge, she could be sentenced to one year in jail.
“No jury is going to believe the police testimony and incompetence in this case,” Nall predicted. “They lied so much, and it’s obvious. Judge Taylor decided my guilt before he ever heard a word of testimony. The police are so dumb that they seized catnip from our house and tried to allege that it was marijuana. It is astonishing that police can invade your home, plant evidence, lie, and yet, you can still be found guilty. It shows how the drug war has stolen away our rights and given too much power to police and corrupt judges.”
Nall says she does not know how long the appeals process will take. In the meantime, she says, she will continue to do Pot-TV news and other activism.
“What I’ve learned is to never trust the police, make sure your attorney fights hard, never give up your rights, and always confront their lies with truth,” Nall said. “They thought when they raided me that I was some dumb-ass country girl who would just roll over and plead guilty. They were wrong. I am going to be vindicated, and I am going to make them pay for all the harm they have done to me and my family.”