Liberate Roger Christie and the THC Ministry - 14 Facing Federal Charges
Campaign page [www.facebook.com/pages/Liberate-Roger-Christie-and-the-THC-Ministry-14-Facing-Federal-Charges/114430088654828]
The THC Ministry is a New Religious Movement (NRM) that uses a "powerful substance," marijuana in this case, as a sacramental substance. Over the centuries new religious movements have been excoriated because they challenge orthodox belief systems. In relation to "powerful substances," across cultures and across time, powerful substances such as marijuana, ganges water, transmogrified bread and wine, etc., have all been used and perceived as sacramental substances.
2014-04-21 letter from Megan Isaac Magdalene, Proprietor of Lotus Garden Hilo providing travel accommodations in downtown Hilo, to Judge Leslie Kobayoshi:
I am writing to ask you to consider a very fair and lenient sentencing of Roger Christie out of consideration for the good moral character of Roger and the virtually unprecedented length of his incarceration of nearly four years without trial or the privilege of bail. As I understand it, your finding was that both Roger and Share are both “legitimate” and “sincere.” Further, I am aware that others, having committed crimes of a more violent nature and involving, in some cases, far more dangerous “drugs” have been permitted bail and for whom a trial date has been more speedily scheduled.
I am a friend of Roger Christie and have known him since I moved to Hawaii in 2005. I have always found him to be an exceptional teacher and friend to many. I have witnessed that he believes deeply in the path of service to community and to the value of inspiring and uplifting those around him.
I believe that the very fact that Roger has remained of a cheerful and optimistic disposition for the length of his incarceration and that he has been able to offer “comfort” to fellow prisoners (as well as friends and family missing him) is a testimony to the deep faith and the great moral strength that Roger possesses. In short, I believe that Roger is a special individual destined to be a teacher in his community. I personally feel very blessed to know him.
Roger lives daily by certain “spiritual principals” that some can only pay lip service or practice only rarely. Roger for years presented every single newcomer he meets with this prayer:
"God, that’s great!
Please show me the blessings in this situation (and hurry).
We are loved,
We are safe … and all is well."
As I understand it, he has said this prayer after returning to his “cell block” each time he has petitioned you for bail and each time his petition was unsuccessful. In this and many other ways, I personally have found Roger to be a very inspiring example and I try to draw from this example of grace and courage. I find his prayer and his teachings about staying positive and focused on the highest possible outcome of any situation, no matter how adverse, to be very uplifting and I am aware that in this way he has touched thousands of lives. It humbles me to think of a man who would so sincerely show his faith in the face of personal difficulty.
Therefore, I know Roger to be a very gentle man of a deep and enduring faith and not in the least violent or inclined to anything of a dishonest nature. The fact that he maintains he that has a case for “entrapment by estoppel” is due to the fact that he maintained a very public profile at the time he operated the Ministry. Roger has a very great dedication to the principals of liberty and has for many years been exercising his democratic rights by engaging with the democratic process as an American “citizen.” I believe that although he may have appeared to be “breaking the law,” it was always his sincere belief that he was acting within the law by providing a Cannabis Ministry that appeared to be sanctioned by the State of Hawaii Health Department.
Roger for many years has expressed a very strong faith in the “good” and the power of good in the Hemp Plant. His Ministry has been an extension of this great faith he has in the benefits of this plant. For the duration of his Ministry, Roger wrote letters to the editor of newspapers, met regularly with the Mayor of Hawaii County and with County and State Legislators and was active in many aspects of legal reform where Cannabis is concerned. We can see from recent events, nationwide, he is not alone in his belief that legal reform is needed in this area. Roger has always sought the means by which to address the matter of Cannabis law reform as set out by the US Constitution. There are many who have sought to change the laws surrounding use of this plant. Please take into account how many states have recognized the legal use of Cannabis since Roger was arrested and in the time he has been incarcerated when you consider an appropriate sentence for him.
I personally know Roger to be a man of his word, with a high moral character and so I believe that any pledge he makes will be solemnly honored. I believe that if allowed to return home to this island, he will not continue to engage in any form of distribution of Cannabis if that pledge is required of him. In the light of Roger Christie’s lengthy incarceration, and having been deprived of contact with his wife for a long period of time, I would ask you to consider being very lenient in the manner of the sentence you pass for Roger. Please also take into account the full amount of “time served” already.
He has been much missed by friends and community and I know that he will be a very valuable member of the community if allowed to return once more. I humbly ask you to show mercy for this man and allow him to resume a life of service in the community.
Thank you, [signed] Megan Isaac Magdalene
2014-04-15 letter from Roger Christie to the public, posted at [https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=562810177150148&id=114430088654828]:
Aloha. Are there strange and unanswered goings-on in our case, or is this 'normal' legal activity and I'm just missing something?
It now looks like Share and I WON our key Motion for a Defense of Entrapment by Estopple, but we were only notified of it 5 months AFTER making our conditional plea of guilty. How can that be possible? What's really going-on here?
I've always felt that ALL of The Hawai'i Cannabis Ministry members who are 'sincere' were entitled to two powerful defenses to federal marijuana charges; Religion and Estopple. I was told multiple times by Federal Officials or Agents that the THC Ministry was 'legitimate' and they (Federal Government Officials and Agents) had zero intention of investigating us, or interfering with any of our legitimate activities. Now it looks like Judge Kobayashi agrees with me.
Why didn't any of our co-defendants' lawyers (except Share's) confer with me and with my lawyer so their clients could use this powerful defense with us?
I also hope and pray that Attorney General Eric Holder's comments to the U.S. Sentencing Commission yesterday March 13, 2014 will serve to reduce the prison sentence of all the other Green Fourteen co-defendants. Spirit willing, so it shall be.
On December 30, 2013 Judge Leslie Kobayashi issued an Opinion that Share and I were APPROVED to present a Defense of Entrapment by Estopple ... TO THE JURY ... at our trial. We were notified of this on March 4, 2014 by my lawyer.
Share and I have always been convinced that if ALL of the Green Fourteen co-defendants received a 'fair trial' and a jury could hear all of our evidence and all of our witnesses there would be so much "reasonable doubt" that we would ALL easily win the case and go free. If the news media covered our trial honestly and told the public about the spiritual history of 'marijuana', and that "we the people" have a First Amendment Religious Right to Cannabis sacrament, we could and would be "the last marijuana trial" in the U.S.A.
What trial? Our trial was scheduled for last October. In early October our lawyers Tommy Otake and Lynn Panagakos told Share and me that, after first allowing it, Judge Kobayashi had DENIED us a Religious Defense, AND that our Defense of Entrapment by Estopple would certainly be DENIED by our Judge, leaving us with zero defense and certain convictions. We were told that we would get no fair trial even though that was our Constitutional Right. Based on that verbal information we were STRONGLY encouraged to accept a new and reasonably fair 'conditional plea' deal. At that same meeting we asked to see the Judge's rulings against our two major defenses; Religion, and Defense of Entrapment by Estopple. No such rulings were shown to us ... until now, many months after we made the 'conditional plea' deal.
Please know that Share and I have always wanted to have a 'fair trial' where we could "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" to a jury of our peers. We're still convinced that any jury in the land would see at least "reasonable doubt" in the case against us and let us go free. As you likely know, our intention has been to be "the last marijuana trial" in the U.S.A. - like there was a last witch trial - and Cannabis prohibition would finally be over. However, no fair bail for me (denied 'reasonable bail' 8 times) was a big hint that there would eventually be no fair trial.
Our friend Carl Olsen notified me by email on February 5, 2014 that three Opinions had been published in our case on December 30, 2013. He saw them on the PACER system of online court rulings. Did we know about them? No, we didn't. Carl emailed them to me immediately. Neither Share's lawyer or mine notified us that these rulings had been made. The Opinions said that we were DENIED a Religious Defense, but we were APPROVED for a Defense of Entrapment by Estopple.
After Carl notified me of the rulings I made phone calls to Tommy Otake's office once a week for three weeks and asked him to please mail the Opinions to me. I also asked him to advise me if these Opinions made any difference in our case, in our plea deal, in our sentencing, or in our appeals. On March 4, 2013 I finally received a copy of the three rulings in the mail from Tommy, but with zero explanation of their relevance. As of today March 14 Share has still not received her copy of the rulings or any explanation of them from her lawyer Lynn Panagakos. What do these legal Opinions mean? We still don't know.
I've recently written the details of Judge Kobayashi's Opinion DENYING our Motion for a Religious Defense. We don't like it, but at least we're able to appeal it. The purpose of this email is to detail the APPROVAL of our Defense of Entrapment by Estopple, to empty my mind of what I'm thinking about this in an attempt to get some clarity, and to show that we had at least one good legal reason to think that we could ALL win our cases at a fair jury trial.
According to the paperwork in our case the U.S. Government seems to allow Cannabis for religious purposes to sincere people, but Judge Kobayashi wrote ... "The charges against Defendants arise from their distribution of marijuana in connection with the THC Ministry." Apparently it's DISTRIBUTION and DIVERSION of sacrament to non-religious people that they're most opposed to. Or so they say.
Since being ordained as a Cannabis Minister in the Religion of Jesus Church and then licensed by the State of Hawaii to marry people with Cannabis as the sacrament in June of 2000 I have attempted to communicate openly and honestly with all levels of law enforcement to make sure that I was acting according to the Constitution and all the laws of the land. I also communicated openly and honestly with all of our Ministry members and our employees.
I worked to establish, confirm and maintain the legitimacy of the The Hawai'i Cannabis Ministry since its beginning in September of 2000. In my Declaration in Support of our Motion for a Religious Defense, and included on-the-record in our Motion for a Defense of Entrapment by Estopple, I stated truthfully that ...
"I have had open, honest, and on-going communication with members of Hawai'i Island's and the federal government's law enforcement agencies related to the activities and philosophies of the THC Ministry through the years of its existence. I communicated openly with members of the Hawaii County Police Department's vice squad, and community police officer William Derr. I also had a conversation about the THC Ministry with DEA Special Agent Jesse Forney, and former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson. I also discussed the activities of the THC Ministry with then U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo on two separate occasions. When I met with Mr. Kubo I set-up a table with all my material fully explaining the THC Ministry, its beliefs and practices, including the religious use of Cannabis. I also had conversations about the THC Ministry with former Mayor of Hawaii County Harry Kim, current Mayor Billy Kenoi, (Hawaii County) Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida, and the late Senator Daniel Inouye. I was in contact with (Hawaii County) Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth, and Hawaii County Police Chief Harry Kubojiri. In the almost ten years of the THC Ministry's very public existence, I was never informed by any of the above individuals or any law enforcement agency that they were concerned with the practices and beliefs of the THC Ministry until the raid by the DEA in March, 2010."
Entrapment by Estopple is the "unintentional entrapment by an official who mistakenly misleads a person into a violation of the law," and it is a theory derived from the due process clause. To establish this defense, a defendant "must show that 1.) an authorized government official, empowered to render the claimed erroneous advice, 2.) who has been made aware of all the relevant historical facts, 3.) affirmatively told the defendant that proscribed (prohibited) conduct was permissible, 4.) that the defendant relied on the false information, and 5.) that the reliance was reasonable."
An entrapment by estopple defense is "available only when the defendant can demonstrate a reasonable belief that his conduct was sanctioned by the government." I'm convinced that I can do that.
The defense of entrapment is inapplicable if the defendant is not misled. "It is not sufficient that the government official's comments were vague or even contradictory; rather, the defendant must show that the government affirmatively told him the proscribed conduct was permissible, and that he reasonably relied on the government's statement".
"A defendant's reliance is reasonable if a person sincerely desirous of obeying the law would have accepted the information as true, and would not have been put on notice to make further inquiries."
"As to Christie, the Court finds that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b) precludes the Court from adjudicating the merits of his entrapment by estopple defense." This is a key factor as Share and I were told in October that ONLY the Judge ("the Court") would decide on this defense, not the jury. We didn't trust the Judge to allow us this defense. That's the main reason we decided to take the conditional plea deal.
"The Court finds that factual issues exist as to whether and what representations were made to Christie, and that these issues may pose credibility questions FOR THE JURY to resolve. The Court further finds that Christie's tender of evidence as to the statements that the Federal officials allegedly made to him IS sufficient to allow him to present the evidence and the theory of entrapment by estopple TO THE JURY."
"TO THE JURY". Bingo! That's what we always wanted; to take our evidence and witnesses to a jury.
Judge Kobayashi also wrote that Share (and by implication all other 'sincere' members of the THC Ministry) may also present a Defense of Entrapment by Estopple based on statements made to me by Federal Government Officials and relayed by me to the other codefendants.
Judge Kobayashi DENIED the Government's Motion to Prohibit Defendants Roger abnd Share Christie from Presenting a Defense of Entrapment by Estopple. In other words she APPROVED our Defense of Entrapment by Estopple.
Now what? Maybe everything's as good as it can be and I've misunderstood these rulings. Maybe something else.
God, that's great! Please show us the blessings in THIS situation ... and hurry! We are safe, we are loved and all is well.
2014-04-13 letter from Roger Christie to the public, posted at [https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=576463562451476&id=114430088654828]:
Aloha. This is an extra exciting time as we're almost at the blood red full moon / lunar eclipse on Monday-Tuesday April 14-15th, then International Cannabis Day and Easter Sunday combined on "4-20", April 20th, then sentencing for Share and me on Monday afternoon April 28th, the same day as the solar eclipse. A very rare and hopeful astrological Grand Cross is due in the heavens from April 20th through April 23rd. How good can these times get?
Last week the U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously passed a change in sentencing 'guidelines' that will reduce most federal drug sentences by a few months beginning November 1st. It's reported that they will soon meet to expand the sentence reduction to being retro-active. We've heard that Share might get to benefit from this positive change with a small reduction in her potential prison sentence.
The Department of Justice has been working with Congress to pass a major reduction in mandatory minimum sentences for most drug crimes. The proposal is to cut the sentences in half, or more. The law passed its first vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee a few months ago. I'm still facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years. If and when this correction happens, a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence will be reduced to a 2 year sentence.
As of today, April 11, 2014 I've already served over 45 months in federal custody. The normal sentencing 'guidelines' say that my prison sentence should be 36 - 43 months, however I'm facing a "mandatory minimum" of 60 months at sentencing on April 28th. If I get a 60 month sentence this is what my time might look like:
60 months total prison sentence
- 9 months, or 15% off for 'good time'
= 51 months to serve
- 45 months already served
= 6 months left. Official release date is October 8, 2014.
I'm told that I could be released to the halfway house in Honolulu any time after April 28th. After living there for a few months I could be released to home sometime this summer, maybe in time for my 65th birthday on June 15th.
We're hoping and praying that Share gets probation and zero prison time as her sentence, or better. Part of her conditional plea agreement is that she gets to stay free at home until all of our appeals are heard in the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco next year, and / or the U.S. Supreme Court after that, if necessary. If and when we win our appeals we get our sentences overturned and we win our case; our cash and stash and our condo in Hilo gets returned to us.
This is the time of measurable positive change for "we the people", and especially for the Cannabis culture. We give thanks for our blessings and for having many of our prayers answered.
All the very best to you and yours!