San Diego DA Dumanis Targets Attorney for Cannabis Industry

by on June 27, 2017 · 9 comments

in San Diego

Med-West raid in January 2016

In Chilling Move, DA Served Search Warrants on Attorney Jessica McElfresh’s Office and Home

By Terrie Best / San Diego Americans for Safe Access

Something outrageous is happening in our criminal justice system in San Diego. In a post proposition 64 world, after voters could not have sent a clearer message about acceptance of the cannabis industry, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is busy making enemies of some of the most effective leaders who have emerged.

Bonnie thumbs her nose at voters while nearly dancing toward a seat on the county board supervisors.  Particularly shocking in this prosecution is the targeting of cannabis attorney, Jessica McElfresh who has represented several of the newly-licensed collectives under the city’s ordinance.

The Med-West case began with a raid in January 2016, company assets were seized, two arrests were made and later San Diego Police Detective Mark Carlson signed an affidavit to take Med-West President James Static’s personal finances, his wife’s and his college-age daughters’.  The Slatics endured several civil court hearings, represented by The Institute for Justice which resulted in a judge’s order to return the family’s savings.

Cannabis Attorney Jessica McElfresh

Days later search warrants were served on Jessica McElfresh’s office and home, a criminal complaint was circulated to the media and charges were filed.

In the time of its operation, Med-West staff had been in communication with the city, had a business, license, paid their taxes and provided benefits to their employees. Countless hours had been spent proving compliance and the raid and closure shocked the cannabis community.

If that isn’t enough to make one cringe, in the defendants’ first court appearance, June 15, the felony arraignment judge removed the 4th amendment rights from all but two of the six charged. The denial of this right could certainly lead to harassment, loss of income, humiliation, and an erosion of confidence in the entire cannabis legal counsel community.

Med-West Seller’s Permit and Certificate of Payment of Business Tax

It is difficult to pick out the most offensive thing about the victimization of Med-West and the subsequent charges.

For my attorney friends it is the blatant stripping of legal representation from the industry in the prosecution of a cannabis attorney for representing her client.

For others it is the vindictive and money-grubbing nature of the DA and her blatancy.

For me it’s the continued disregard for voters as Bonnie builds a legacy and a hefty bank account on the backs of suffering patients.  All of it points to the police state we are headed toward as law enforcers continue to interpret laws in the most punitive way in order to seize the assets of property owning citizens.

The arraignment court date occurred last week amid a flurry of support.  The defendants are very well represented, James Slatic has hired former DA, Paul Pfingst, Jessica McElFresh is represented by Eugene Iredale. The other four defendants also have counsel, none of whom are public defenders.

The prosecutor is Jorge DelPortillo.  He has lost numerous cannabis cases, including People v Robert Orlosky which established case law after appeal.   Head of Narcotics, Steve Walter was present at the arraignment. It remains to be seen whether Walters will assign another deputy DA given that the DA’s office is desperate to keep assets seized by narcotic officers.

Med-West President James Static

The need for court support can not be overstated. The search warrants served on Jessica was frighteningly over broad. The DA’s office has requested a forensic search of all of the San Diego attorney’s devices going back three years. Additionally, the investigators seized documents having nothing to do with the case from Jessica’s home. A motion to restrict the obvious fishing expedition into Jessica’s law practice and personal life will be heard on July 7th at 9:00AM in Dept. 36 of the downtown Superior Court.

Please plan to attend.

News sources:

San Diego Union-Tribune May 24, 2017

San Diego Union-Tribune, May 5, 2017

Here’s link to criminal charges.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Terrie Best June 27, 2017 at 11:18 am

Bonnie’s last day as DA is July 7th! We are not sorry to see her go. That is why we are holding a good old-fashioned Jazz funeral at the Hall of Justice July 7th at 11 a.m. with the Euphoria Brass Band. We will March around the Hall of Justice after the Jessica McElfresh hearing in D36. Then march, to the county building where we will have pizza. There will be a fake coffin of Bonnie’s misdeeds, Mardi Gras beads and parasols! Please bring your dancing shoes! Terrie SDASA

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avatar Geoff Page June 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Maybe I missed it, but what was the criminal complaint and what were the charges against the attorney? What was the search warrant for?

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avatar Terrie Best June 27, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Very good point. My apologies.

Here’s the complaint that was linked in the UT articles.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3732735-MED-WEST-CRIMINAL-COMPLAINT.html

Perhaps the OBRag Editor can add it to the piece. . Thanks for the heads up.

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avatar OB Mercy June 27, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I truly detest Dumanass and all she has stood for since I’ve lived here.

I will NOT be sorry to see her go.

A pretty reliable source told me that his friend smoked pot with Dumanass one time. Who knows if it’s true. But adding hypocrisy to her crimes wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Don’t let the door hit your ASS on the way out. Your karma is going to bite you on the ASS very soon I’m sure!

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avatar Frank Gormlie June 27, 2017 at 7:38 pm

I just added a link to the criminal charges in the article. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3732735-MED-WEST-CRIMINAL-COMPLAINT.html

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avatar Tyler June 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

I work in the industry. I cannot stand Dumanis, but Med-West as well as McElfrish are not innocent in this. If you actually want this industry to be taken seriously, don’t come to their defense.

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avatar Terrie Best June 28, 2017 at 9:47 am

If you work in the industry you know the laws are very unclear and we all do our best to follow them. If you, as an industry enthusiast, see somebody who you believe isn’t following the law, leave it alone. That’s the cops’ job, it is NOT your’s. Especially while regulations are being crafted by reluctant politicians. Regulations that would have protected Med-West and prevented this tragedy have been a long time coming. Meanwhile, people need cannabis products and it is the heroes that provide it at great risk in a very murky legal environment. There are plenty of prohibitionists to criticize our industry, you should not align with them.

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avatar Geoff Page June 28, 2017 at 10:40 am

Tyler, while your comment may be entirely accurate, I’d be careful. Seems you just admitted to knowing something about this, better hope there isn’t a knock on your door because of what you wrote.

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avatar Terrie Best June 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Another great point. Talk smack, get subpoenaed for the prosecution. Now how would that feel?

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