X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
To get federal marijuana charges against their clients thrown out, some San Francisco defense attorneys are drawing comparisons between the charges and bias against Chinese laundries 120 years ago. Attorneys for at least three defendants started filing motions to dismiss this month, in an attempt to persuade a judge that theirs is a case of “selective prosecution” because most of the 21 defendants are Asian-American. Lawyers claim the government targeted their clients to portray the case as one against Asian gang members and guard against “political fallout” that might have arisen had they gone after Caucasian-run pot dispensaries. Criminal defense lawyers Laurence Lichter and Nedra Ruiz, who filed one of the motions, compare it what the U.S. Supreme Court found in San Francisco around 1886. In Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, a Chinese man protested the way the city was handing out permits to operate laundries in wooden buildings. The high court found that though the law was fair on its face, city officials were implementing it “with an evil eye and an unequal hand” because they rejected about 200 Chinese launderers but gave permission for similar businesses to 80 non-Chinese people. Ruiz and Lichter claim that federal authorities in San Francisco raided the only three Chinese-American-run clubs among the city’s many dispensaries. “The government wanted to connect these Chinese-American kids with organized Asian crime,” Ruiz said Friday. “Then it was easy for the government to say … ‘We’re not after sick people. We’re after organized Asian crime.’” To support their motion, Ruiz and Lichter have given the court several news articles covering the indictments. In one, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that authorities said the raids against the defendants’ clubs were part of a broader investigation into money laundering and Asian organized crime. “By targeting Asians and implicitly depicting this case as an Asian organized crime ring, the government was able to attack medical marijuana dispensaries without the ‘appearance’ per se of directly attacking cannabis clubs,” says a similar defense motion filed by attorneys J. Tony Serra and Anna Ling. The Northern District of California U.S. attorney’s office would not comment Friday on the case or the motions. “We cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but we will respond in court as appropriate,” said office spokesman Luke Macaulay. Prosecutors have until early February to file those briefs. Twenty of the defendants face growing and distribution charges. Three of them are also accused of possessing Ecstasy with the intent to distribute it, and three have also been charged with conspiring to launder money. There are plenty more defendants who could join the racism claim. San Francisco solo Douglas Horngrad, who represents a defendant in the case, said he already plans to join the selective prosecution claims. “And I expect every lawyer in the case is going to join me.” Lichter says he’s afraid he’s already seeing a reaction to their arguments that could affect their chances. Just last week, federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided another San Francisco dispensary — one that’s apparently not Asian-run. No arrests have been made or charges filed in that case. Casey McEnry, a spokeswoman for the DEA’s San Francisco field division, said the investigation that led to last week’s searches began two years ago. But Lichter questioned the timing of the raids. “We think that, because we filed these motions, they are going to go after the Caucasian clubs,” he said.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.