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Court Dismisses Charges for Man Who Spent Seven Years in Jail for Growing Marijuana

The American justice system is incredibly flawed, particularly when it comes to the issue of marijuana. But when a guy spends seven years in prison for growing cannabis without being convicted, that's a major problem.

The United States Appeals Court for the Second Circuit threw out a case and issued a scathing report to basically everyone involved in it for a case involving marijuana. The story shows just how deeply flawed our system can be when it comes to cannabis.

In 2008 Joseph Tigano was arrested for illegally growing marijuana in New York state. In April 2009, Tigano finally appeared in court and asked for a speedy trial. His own defense lawyer thought the request was weird and asked that Tigano undergo a mental competency exam. Four months later, the test found Tigano to be mentally competent, and he asked for a new lawyer. His second lawyer asked for another mental competency exam because of Tigano's request. 

From 2010 to 2012, Tigano's case was complicated by prosecutors delaying actions to turn over evidence, judges poorly handling the case and other mishaps that continually delayed the trial. In July 2012, Tigano had enough and asked for a plea, where once again the prosecutors dragged their feet and he changed his mind. His case continued to get delayed by prosecutors and judges, and in January 2014 his trial was set to begin, but then his new lawyer asked he undergo a third mental competency exam because he refused to plead guilty and wanted a trial, which is his constitutional right!

After several more delays, Tigano finally received a trial in May 2015, over six years since his arrest, and he was found guilty. The trial lasted one week.

The Appeals Court lambasted the judges and lawyers for poorly handling the case. While Tigano had originally been given a 20 year sentence at trial, he's been released after only two years because the Court saw his case as an egregious example of misconduct. 

Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to make cases like this legal so that prosecutors and the justice system could focus their resources on more important crimes and issues? If only there was a way to do that...

(h/t New York Times)


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