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July 15, 1997
WAYNE COUNTY ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR LUKE SKYWALKER WANTS TO PUT AIDS-CANCER PATIENT IN JAIL FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA POSSESSION
(This is not a joke.)
15, 1997, Los Angeles, CA: In an eleventh hour
reversal, Wayne County prosecutors switched from compassion to
zero-tolerance in its prosecution of AIDS-cancer patient Peter
McWilliams for possession of medical marijuana.
In a sudden strong-arm attempt to force McWilliams to make a guilty plea, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Maria Petito sent an ultimatum to McWilliams in a fax on July 11, 1997: "to take the pleas indicated in my prior letter. Absent such an immediate request by you, we will see you in trial." Ms. Petito also pointed out, "That date is now set for July 18, 1997 at 9:00 A.M."
"How can I prepare to defend myself against a possible year in prison in less than a week?" asked McWilliams, who was stunned by the sudden reversal. "As late as July , the prosecutor's office led me to believe a letter from my doctor was all I needed, so I didn't prepare for a trial. The prosecutor's office was not happy with a few of the words in my doctor's first letter and we were discussing changes-which I'm sure my physician would have made-and then, without warning, this."
Ms. Petito began the second and final paragraph of her fateful fax with a significant psychological blow: "Luke Skywalker will be the assistant prosecutor handling the trial."
"How can I prepare to fight Luke Skywalker in less than a week?" McWilliams asked in desperation.
[Again, this is not a joke. There is an assistant prosecutor in Wayne County named Luke Skywalker. Honest. The number of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is 313-278-8310. Mr. Skywalker's extension is 33. The office is located in Dearborn Heights, Michigan should you care to verify the number with information (which we had to do before we dared send out this release).]
McWilliams will be asking the 34th District Court judge handling the case, the Honorable Tina Brown, for a 60-day delay in the trial date. His motion to the Court reads in part:
I have not asked for this fight (at least not in this forum), but if the prosecutor thinks that putting me in jail for treating my AIDS is in any way representing the best interests of the people of Michigan, then let the people of Michigan know what's going on and let them speak out.
I am a visible person. Too many invisible people are in Michigan prisons right now who sought medical relief for themselves or their loved ones and found themselves without the luxury of being offered a plea. I stand trial for those people, and for myself. I ask the prosecutor's office, through this Court, to not toy with us. Either drop the case now and state there are far more important crimes in Wayne County--murders, rapes, robberies--that need the prosecutor's office's valuable, seriously overextended resources, or see this prosecution through to the end and let a jury speak.
Star Wars jokes aside, this is a very serious matter that effects the health and lives of tens of thousands in Michigan. It is time those in the prosecutor's office stop acting like bullies and begin being ministers of justice and Officers of this Court, dedicated to the common good of the people of Wayne County, as they have sworn to do.
McWilliams uses medical marijuana to ease the nausea of his AIDS treatment. A published writer for thirty years, McWilliams' books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list five times. McWilliams was for two years a correspondent for the Today Show and has appeared on Larry King Live, Oprah, ABC Evening News, CBS Morning News, and thousands of radio talk shows.
McWilliams is the publisher of The Medical Marijuana Magazine Online (www.marijuanamagazine.com) and the founder of the Medical Marijuana Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization. For a copy of Peter McWilliams' July 14, 1997 motion to the Court, which contains the pertinent correspondence between McWilliams and the prosecutors, please call 213-650-9571 x125 for a fax. To interview Peter McWilliams, please contact Ed Hashia at 213-650-9571 x125.
To be put on the hot list for priority sending of future press releases in this case, or to never have this story clog your fax machine again, please contact Ed Hashia at 213-650-9571 x125.
MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 . . . ANOTHER EVERY 54 SECONDS!