Letters 3-18-2013


Pleading Christie’s case

Outrageous and unlawful confinement

The outrageous and unlawful imprisonment of Roger Christie for marijuana crimes is a stain on our country, our island and on us as Americans. He is the poor soul who, for the past four years, has been dragged in and out of jail for short hearings, then is left in jail without bail or a trial.

To be imprisoned for years and years without a trial is an insult to the principles of our great nation. It seems the Russian Gulag and Abu Ghraib prison are right here in Hilo. He is rotting in jail for a crime for which others have been arrested, convicted and set free already — while there he still sits.

Obviously, it is some personal vendetta of some local bureaucrat in power. Many other pot criminals are now free because they were not singled out for bugging someone with a police badge or a gavel.

Keeping Mr. Christie in jail for the flimsy reason that he is a threat to society for possessing weeds is the act of a dictatorship. It is exactly what a dictatorship does: throws people in jail on a whim, without a fair trial.

Keeping him imprisoned is trampling upon his and your U.S. Constitution.

I know we do things differently in Hawaii. We break the rules; we hang loose and let things slide. Mostly, it’s funny and harmless, but letting the Constitution of the United States slide is not funny or harmless. It is dead serious.

I pray some brave, enlightened soul outside the confines of this ignorant, local-boy world of jungle justice will step up and stop this flagrant injustice.

The little town of Hilo is mocking and ignoring the laws of our great country. These petty potentates are stealing Roger Christie’s rights to at least four Amendments of the Constitution. Here is the list:

Roger Christie established a legal, recognized church with marijuana as a sacrament. The 1st Amendment states “the government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion.” They laugh at his religion and throw him in jail for it. Sound familiar?

The 5th Amendment states a person “may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” Years in prison for this infraction is trampling on any due process of law.

The 6th Amendment guarantees “the accused will get a quick and speedy trial.” Four years in jail is not a speedy trail. The 5th and 6th Amendments also form the right of habeas corpus, or the right to be physically brought to trial and charged. He has not been brought to trial for years.

The 8th Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” Dragging someone out of jail, giving him hope and then dashing that hope again and again for years is cruel and unusual punishment.

The slavery amendment might even apply here.

Marijuana is being legalized as medicine and sold over the counter in 18 states across the country, including Hawaii. It is ironic someone is in jail for something legal.

The times they are a changing. The evil weed is not so evil anymore. With the light, prevailing spirit that pot is not such a bad thing, added to the heavy fracturing of Roger Christie’s constitutional rights, it is time finally to do what is right. It is time to stop making him the whipping boy of some old-fashion judge with a grudge.

It is time to let Roger Christie go with time served and with our heartfelt, humble apology. That would be the moral thing to do; that would be true aloha.

Dennis Gregory

Kailua-Kona