Pot-TV anchor Loretta Nall, who is also president of the US Marijuana Party, went to court in Alexander City, Alabama on February 10th.
In 2002, local police raided her home when she and her family were gone. They claim to have found 0.87 grams of marijuana, which is barely enough to roll a small joint. They also seized a pair of scales that Nall used for weighing candle-making ingredients.
The raid was led by Officer Eric McCain. 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 elementary school-age daughter caused him to believe that the Nalls were growing marijuana.
The raid did not turn up any evidence of marijuana being grown, but Nall was charged with second degree possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
Police, school officials, and other government agents then tried to have Nall declared an unfit parent so they could take her children away.
Nall hired “Libertarian” attorney Rick Lyerly, but he showed up late for an important hearing in 2003, and Nall says he failed to follow her instructions about how to conduct the case. When Nall insisted that Lyerly vigorously defend her by pointing out numerous irregularities in the search warrant and police procedures, Lyerly stopped representing her, and demanded she pay him more money.
At the February 10th trial, Nall was represented by defense attorneys Wilson Myers and Charles Salvaggio. Myers vigorously questioned McCain and other police witnesses, forcing them to contradict themselves with testimony that lacked factual accuracy, consistency and credibility.
Nall says presiding District Court Judge Kim Taylor, the same judge who signed the search warrant, appeared to be asleep during much of the trial, and that whenever he made a ruling, it was in favor of the prosecution.
By the end of the trial, Nall says, attorney Myers had elicited what appeared to be numerous incidents of perjury from the prosecution witnesses. It didn’t matter to Judge Taylor, however. He found Nall guilty of the two charges and sentenced her to 30 days in jail for each charge. If Nall had not previously posted $2000 bond, she could have been immediately sent to jail unless she agreed to a “court referral” program and a suspended sentence. Instead, she remains “free,” and has appealed the convictions.
Nall explained the dubious convictions by saying that Alabama has a “bizarre” legal system that allows a person to be convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail before the person has had the opportunity to fully examine the witnesses and evidence against them.
“It’s almost impossible to get justice at the District Court level,” Nall says. “It’s totally against the defendant. If you want a neutral judge and jury to examine the evidence and witnesses against you, you have to endure the police lies and judicial bias in District Court, and hope that the appeals court does a better job of evaluating the case.”
Nall says her legal ordeal has taught her a lot about Alabama and America. She says that her case shows how the constitution and Bill of Rights have been slammed by the drug war.
“I am appalled at what I witnessed in court,” she lamented. “How many innocent people are in jail because of judges like Kim Taylor? How many lives have been destroyed because people did not have the resources or determination to fight on? The judge did not bring any dignity or consideration to my trial. He did not care about my innocence, or about the obvious lies of the police.”
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.