Into the Frying Pan

It has been a while since my last post, and many things have happened. I finished my Community and Work Experience class this week where I worked as an intern with The Rutland Open Door Mission. This nonprofit organization includes a long-term shelter for homeless veterans, an overnight shelter, a soup kitchen, and a thrift store that provides 80% of their funds. Part of my responsibility was to help them start a Facebook page, check it out, and help spread the word about this incredible organization.

The November 15th status conference was well attended, the group gathering looked like they were ready for a Saturday afternoon at the Met instead of a hearing in district court. Serious and respectful, these friends from our community know my family and they have appreciated the care and dedication our mom has shown in hard times.

The Friends of Sue Thayer arrived at the courthouse at 2PM and their number surprised everyone.  Officer Steve who mans the metal detector asked me to be sure not to give him the bum’s rush at 3PM, but the law need not worry about my mother’s friends, they behave with decorum. Although sixty of us occupied every seat in the courtroom, you could have heard a pin drop.  We were a live audience, observing our judicial system at work first hand, not the high drama of TV shows, but the daily grind of Rutland District Court.

The question on everyone’s mind: How will the court address evidence; which parts of our life story will be allowed at her trial? Judge DiMauro made clear that our case is “trial ready,” so in light of the Vermont Supreme Court ruling the next step is for Peter Neary to file a motion in limine by December 27th to suppress my doctor’s testimony and all evidence concerning our family history. It is a mystery to me how the State’s prosecutors can say this critical testimony is irrelevant when our lives, Tristan’s and mine, explain the sole reason why my mother acted as she did. Continue reading

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Status Conference

Today we will see where we stand at Rutland District Court. As our friend Fred Thurlow said on the phone, it should be an interesting afternoon.

I want to thank all of the people who helped us prepare for this day by donating their time, effort and resources. We are not expecting to see the end of the case today, but we will be one step closer to closure.

There will be a rally to support my mom in front of the Courthouse beginning at 2 PM, the status conference will begin at 3. People have made hand-lettered signs to hold at the rally, and there will be Friends of Sue buttons and name badges to bring into the courtroom. There is a metal detector, so remember to come with empty pockets, and if a hard wooden bench is unappealing, you may want to bring a cushion to sit on.

Deputy State’s Attorney Peter Neary insists that my mom plead guilty to a felony and be put under police supervision. My brother and I had no resource to help with the challenges we faced, my mother was meeting her responsibilities as a caregiver in the best way she could, and my doctor is willing to testify about my health and my family. The State will not allow her a defense because she grew a garden instead of going to the illegal market. What is she to do? Continue reading

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Motion Denied

Our motion to reargue was denied last week, this week a status conference has been set for Monday, November 15 in Rutland District Court at 3 PM in room 2. It is open to the public, so all are invited to see how justice is executed in Rutland. As we move forward it is important for the State’s Attorney to understand that the community does not believe this prosecution serves the interest of justice.

The Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Act required my mother to break the law by buying marijuana from illegal sources, which is truly insulting. She chose instead to break the law by growing medicine that she could ensure was safe. She made this difficult and courageous choice because it was the least harmful option available, both to me, and to society. It is the height of hypocrisy to accept the use of cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment but leave those in need to the black market and prosecute them like common criminals.

Our family is grateful for all of the support we have received, and we would like to thank Sharon Nimtz for authoring the following for the Rutland Herald. I hope we can begin a civil and open dialogue about these difficult issues. Continue reading

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Motion to Reargue

Last week we filed a motion to reargue our case to the Vermont Supreme Court because they overlooked substantial evidence and relied on significant factual errors in their opinion. The majority based their decision, in large part, on the finding that my mom had three years to comply with the medical marijuana law. In fact, the medical marijuana law had included my symptoms for only thirty-three days when my mother’s garden was raided on August 2, 2007. On July 1, 2007 the Legislature amended the 2004 medical marijuana law with vocal opposition from Governor Douglas; it became law without his signature. Before that day, any cultivation or possession of cannabis was illegal because I did not have one of the qualifying conditions; cancer, AIDS, or multiple sclerosis. Whether for symptom relief or not, a single plant, flower, or seed, grown inside or outdoors was criminal. Interestingly, as Chief Justice Reiber pointed out, “Had defendant been arrested before Vermont’s medical-marijuana law went into effect, I imagine that the majority would reach a different decision today, as there would be no rationale for preventing defendant from presenting the necessity defense to the jury” ¶ 35.  To suggest, as the majority did, that we should have attempted to comply with the unrealistic mandates of a law that didn’t even apply to me is asking a lot from a family that was in crisis since 2002. Continue reading

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