33 Pounds of Meth Seized In Ottumwa & Newton

English: Crystal methamphetamine

English: Crystal methamphetamine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

More on the drug bust front.  This week authorities arrested four men in conjunction with a year long drug investigation.  The arrests occurred after search warrants were executed in Ottumwa and Newton, Iowa.  The four men, Michael McManus Jr., 35, of Ottumwa; Terry Lee Young, 58, of Ottumwa; Brian Lee Carmer, 35, of Newton; and Juan Hernandez-Huerta, 25, of Ottumwa are all facing conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charges.  It is unclear whether the charges are state or federal but it seems likely given the amount of methamphetamine seized that this case will end up in federal court.

 

Below is a picture of the methamphetamine that was seized.  Meth is mostly commonly found in either powder or crystal form.  Meth made locally is generally anhydrous meth because of the way its made using anhydrous ammonia.  This type of meth is made in clandestine labs.  These labs are volatile and exceptionally dangerous.  For a list of clandestine labs found around the country visit the Justice Department’s clandestine lab website.  Anhydrous meth is generally not as desirable as the more pure meth imported from Mexico and other foreign nations.  Meth can be mixed with foreign materials such as horse vitamins to increase its volume and dilute its purity.  This is commonly referred to as “cut”.  This allows a dealer to take a pound of pure meth and create two pounds.  More volume = more sales = more money.  Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally.

 

Photo Credit Des Moines Register

Photo Credit Des Moines Register

 

The methamphetamine in this picture is packaged.  Each individual package is referred to as a brick.  It appears dirty because it was probably being concealed in some fashion.  The meth itself is probably very safe in whatever packaging material it is in.

 

As always the Stowers Law Firm reminds you that all persons are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt.  These arrests came after a year long investigation in which law enforcement performed a number of drug purchases.  These purchases are known as “controlled buys” because they are accomplished using individuals working with law enforcement and either drugs or money which is specifically identifiable when and if it is recovered.  During a controlled buy law enforcement also utilizes human and electronic surveillance.  It is likely that each of these gentlemen, if charged in federal court, will face, at least, a mandatory minimum 10 year sentence.  Given the quantity however, it is likely their federal sentencing guideline range will be much higher than ten years.  As always they will need an experienced and aggressive lawyer to assist them in their defense.

 

 

 

 

 

Alleged Torture, Abuse and Imprisonment in Iowa: First Degree Kidnapping and Willful Injury

KCCI News reported today on three members of a Council Bluffs family who have been charged with first-degree kidnapping as well as willful injury. The charges stem from activities reported by their 20-year old mentally handicapped family member.

The family member ran away from home on February 19, 2013 and when found by strangers, was taken to Joshua House, a shelter for homeless men. It is reported that he told a shelter worker that he was being deprived of basic necessities like food and use of a restroom.

Other allegations involve the his stepmother restraining him in a garage, sometimes overnight, with dog leashes and chains. Additional information claims that the stepmother burned him with hot silverware. The young man had multiple burns on his back, left forearm, inner thighs and groin area. One of these burns was reported to be consistent with a clothing iron.

The man’s stepmother has been charged with willful injury causing serious injury and the man’s father and stepbrother are both charged with first-degree kidnapping.  As the authorities investigate it is very possible the charges will be modified.

As it stands, all of these charges are serious and carry hefty punishments if convicted.  Kidnapping, found in Iowa Code Chapter 710 is defined as follows:

“A person commits kidnapping when the person either confines a person or removes a person from one place to another, knowing that the person who confines or removes the other person has neither the authority nor the consent of the other to do so; provided, that to constitute kidnapping the act must be accompanied by one or more of the following:

  1. Intent to hold the person for ransom
  2. Intent to use the person as shield or hostage
  3. Intent to inflict serious injury upon such person, or to subject the person to sexual abuse
  4. Intent tp secretly confine such person
  5. Intent to interfere with the performance of any government function.”

Iowa Code Section 710.2 specifically defines kidnapping in the first degree. Kidnapping is considered in the first degree when the person kidnapped, as a consequence of the kidnapping, suffers serious injury, or is intentionally subjected to torture or sexual abuse. Kidnapping in the first degree is a class “A” felony, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The only way a person may be released on parole after a Class “A” Felony conviction is if the Governor commutes the sentence to a term of years or if the defendant is a juvenile.

The stepmother is also facing a Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury charge under Iowa Code Section 708.4.  This is a Class “C” felony which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.  A conviction on this charge only requires that the alleged perpetrator does an act which is not justified and which is intended to cause serious injury and actually causes serious injury.

Police say that the victim’s father and stepmother deny the allegations.  It is very important to remember that persons charged with a crime are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt.

The three individuals are  in custody at the Pottawattamie County Jail, each being held at $100,000 bail.  These charges are serious and the charged individuals will need experienced and hard working attorneys to defend them.  If you or someone you love find yourself charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact the Stowers Law Firm.

Drug Raid in Monroe, Iowa

Another day, another drug raid in central Iowa.  This one occurred in the town of Monroe, Iowa in rural Jasper County.  According to KCCI,  6 people were arrested on varying charges from possession with the intent to deliver marijuana to misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.  The six charged ranged in age from 27-18.

English: County courthouse for Jasper County, ...

English: County courthouse for Jasper County, Iowa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This raid, like many others in central Iowa, was carried out by members of the mid-Iowa narcotics enforcement task force, commonly known as the MINE task force.  The MINE task force is a federally funded organization made of a variety of federal, state and local law enforcement officials.  The task force focuses on drug interdiction operations in Des Moines and surrounding communities.

Marshalltown Iowa Drug Bust

Another central Iowa drug bust occurred yesterday.  This one was in Marshalltown, Iowa about 45 minutes northeast of Des Moines.  According to the Des Moines Register police executed a search warrant on a home in the 500 block of N Seventh Ave.  Officers seized cocaine, crack, ecstasy and psilocybin.  Prescription drugs, cash and a gun were also found.  Ronald Henderson was arrested and taken to the Marshall County Jail were he was charged with four counts of possession with the intent to deliver, three tax stamp violations, one count of prohibitive acts and a driving while barred.

These charges are very serious.  The possession with the intent to deliver charges involve two B felonies and two C felonies.  A B felony carries a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in state prison.  A C felony carries a maximum charge of 10 years in state prison.  The three tax stamp violations are each D felonies carrying a maximum of 5 years in state prison each.  The prohibitive acts (likely a charge for keeping a drug house or vehicle) is an aggravated misdemeanor with a maximum of 2 years in state prison.  The same is true of the driving while barred.  Thus, Mr. Henderson is looking at up to 89 years in state prison.

English: Marshall County Courthouse in Marshal...

English: Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown, Iowa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

89 years is just the base potential maximum.  If Mr. Hendersen has prior convictions under Iowa Code Section 124.401 he may be subject to several enhancements including the habitual offender enhancement and a second and subsequent offender enhancement.  These enhancements could result in a mandatory minimum sentence and/or a tripling of the penalties for the possession with the intent to deliver charges (B felony 25 x 3 = 75 year max on each; C felony 10 x 3 = 30 year max on each, for a total of 210 years on the possession with the intent charges).  Another enhancement for having a gun in conjunction with the drugs could apply.

Lastly, given the type of drugs involved and the fact that a firearm was located in proximity to the narcotics, it is possible this case could migrate to federal court.  If the case were to “go federal” as we say, the penalties would depend on the quantity of drugs found.  However, needless to say they would be serious penalties.  The other major difference is that unlike a state sentence where a defendant serves maybe 50% or less of his/her sentence, in federal court a defendant under almost all circumstances is required to serve 85% of the sentence imposed.  So, while a defendant sentenced to ten years in Iowa District Court might serve 12-36 months, a defendant in an Iowa Federal District Court sentenced to ten years will almost always serve at least 102 months.

Mr. Henderson’s situation is serious.  However, it is very important to point out that he is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt.  Just because a person is arrested and charged does not mean that person committed any crime.  The State of Iowa or the federal government shoulder the very heavy burden of proving a criminal defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  That said Mr. Henderson and people in similar situations need well-trained, experienced lawyers fighting on their side.  If you or a loved one finds yourself in a similar situation do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at the Stowers Law Firm.

 

 

Altoona Drug Bust Nets 200 Pot Plants!

Recently, police in Altoona, Iowa executed a search warrant at the home of Jacob Alexander Willis.  According to police, Willis was under some sort of investigation, presumably narcotics related.  Upon entering Willis’s house police discovered over 200 marijuana plants. Law enforcement said the marijuana plants covered most of the house.  Willis apparently constructed an intricate system for watering and heating the plants.

In addition to the pot plants, police found harvested and packaged marijuana in the home.  Jacob Willis has been charged with possession with the intent to deliver marijuana, manufacture of marijuana and a tax stamp violation.  All of the charges are Class D felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.  However, in certain factual situations, the possession with the intent to deliver charge and the manufacture charge are considered one violation of Iowa Code Section 124.401 and would merge at sentencing.  Thus, it is very possible that Willis is only looking at a maximum of ten years instead of fifteen.

Fig3

Fig3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Altoona police said this is one of the biggest indoor grow operations they’ve ever seen.  That got us thinking.  Is 200 plants really big; or is it just really big for little Altoona, Iowa?  So we decided to do a quick google search for “indoor grow operations busted” and here is what we found:

  1. Just a few days ago law enforcement busted a father and son team from Goodman, Wisconsin who had a grow operation with almost 300 marijuana plants.
  2. In suburban New York City a mother of two was arrested and charged with cultivating an estimated 3,000 marijuana plants!  Yes you read that right, 3,000!  The plants are valued at around $3,000,000.00.  Agents said this was a very sophisticated operation.
  3. At the end of May, detectives in Golden Gate Estates, Florida uncovered two indoor grow operations in one week.  One operation contained about 95 plants and the other 81 marijuana plants.  The combined street value of the operations was about $528,000.00!
  4. Another article out of Florida discusses recent and past raids in Lake County, Florida.  In 2012, 32,306 pot plants from indoor grow operations were destroyed in Florida.
  5. Earlier this month, state and federal authorities raided a house in Moreno Valley, California and discovered 417 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1,500,000.00.  (Note the difference in value from the bust in New York.  The California operation had only 14% of the total plants in the New York grow operation but was worth 50% of the value of the New York grow operation).
  6. Finally, last month in Oak Hills, San Bernardino County, California, authorities busted a house and discovered over 1,700 marijuana plants!  The house was over 3,200 square feet and had an advanced lighting and fan filtering system.

So what does this tell us about the recent bust in Altoona?  Well it surely wasn’t small, but around the country there are far larger and more sophisticated marijuana grow operations.  Of course, regardless of the size of the grow operation; if you find yourself in Jacob Willis’a position or any of the individuals in the aforementioned articles, it’s a big deal!  You will need an experienced criminal defense team to advocate for you.  Often these cases start in state court but eventually migrate to federal court.  The attorneys at the Stowers Law Firm are experienced in narcotics defense in both state and federal court.  If you need a lawyer for a drug related case, do not hesitate to contact us today.

Stowers Law Firm in the News: Dean Stowers Part III

This editorial (reprinted below) appeared in the Des Moines Register last week.

The Register’s Editorial: Rose crossed line in messages to prosecutors

Judge’s job is to be a neutral arbiter, not to coach the prosecution or the defense

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose. / David Purdy/The Register
Written by
THE REGISTER’S EDITORIAL BOARD
  • FILED UNDER

Some people in a new job find it hard to resist the temptation to offer advice and counsel to those performing their old job.

While understandable, this is totally inappropriate when the advice comes from a federal judge and it is given to a federal prosecutor who regularly has cases before that judge.

That occurred when U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose recently sent emails to the United States attorney in Des Moinesexpressing frustration with what she saw as federal prosecutors’ mishandling of criminal cases. The emails involved at least one case pending before Rose at the time, but they were not shared with the attorney for the defendant in that case.

That appears to clearly violate the rule of judicial ethics that says judges should not have “ex parte” communications with one side of a court case without also communicating with the other side. The point of this rule is that the job of a judge is to be a neutral arbiter, not to be an advocate for one side or another of a case.

It would be no different had the judge phoned the defense lawyer to offer advice on how he could improve his client’s case.

Besides demanding that prosecutors produce more evidence that would lengthen the prison sentence in the criminal case before her, Rose’s emails generally berated the federal prosecutors for what she saw as bungling and missteps by the government lawyers. It was, the criminal defendant’s lawyer wrote in one court filing, as if Judge Rose was “assuming the role of prosecutor-in-chief.”

As a result of Rose’s independent engagement in this criminal case, the judge sentenced the defendant to a prison term of up to nearly nine years, which was twice as long as the government prosecutors initially recommended.

Rose declined to discuss her actions with the Register’s Clark Kauffman, who learned of the emails from reading the court file in the case. She insisted in a related court proceeding, however, that there was nothing improper about her private communications with the U.S. attorney’s office. Even if that’s true, it looks bad. As with any ethical question, even the appearance of bias is as bad as a technical violation of the rules of ethics.

Apart from Rose’s inappropriate communications with prosecutors in a pending case, there is the equally, if not more, troubling question of her telling the U.S. attorney’s office how to do its job. Rose knows the prosecutor’s job, of course. She had been a career prosecutor for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Iowa. But Rose stepped out of that role when she put on the robes of a federal judge last year.

Judges hear cases. They do not prosecute or defend them.

The American system of justice relies “on the parties to frame the issues for decisions and assign[s] to courts the role of neutral arbiter of matters the parties present,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a recent decision that involved similar issues. She quoted a federal judge from Arkansas, who wrote: “[Courts] do not, or should not, sally forth each day looking for wrongs to right. We wait for cases to come to us, and when they do we normally decide only questions presented by the parties.”

The sentence Rose imposed in this case has been appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

However the court rules on that appeal, it should admonish Rose to keep Justice Ginsburg’s words in mind in the future.

Stowers Law Firm in the News: Dean Stowers Part II

This article (reprinted below) appeared in the Des Moines Register last week.

Prosecutor who got ‘Hulk’ email from federal judge leaves Justice Department

Lawyer suggests message was about discrimination lawsuit

Written by
Clark Kauffman
  • FILED UNDER

The federal prosecutor who received a controversial email from U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose comparing herself to the Hulk and advising lawyers not to make her angry has left her job with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The departure of Shannon Olson, the former appellate chief for Iowa’s southern judicial district, follows the exit of another federal prosecutor who claims she was fired as the result of age discrimination and harassment by Rose.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday that Olson no longer works for the Department of Justice, but he declined to say why or when her employment had ended.

Olson’s departure follows allegations in court documents that an email Rose sent to her in January might have been intended to warn of potential consequences if Olson testified in the civil lawsuit that accuses Rose of age discrimination and harassment.

Olson could not be reached for comment by The Des Moines Register.

Rose has declined to answer the Register’s questions but has indicated she would do so after court cases about the matters are resolved.

In court papers, Rose has characterized allegations about her conduct as “inaccurate, at best, and deliberately misleading, at worst.”

The controversial Hulk email was sent by Rose to Olson in January, four months after Rose’s lifetime appointment as a federal judge was confirmed.

Two hours after she sentenced a drug dealer to eight years in prison, Rose sent Olson an email in which she likened herself to the comic-book character the Hulk, saying, “You won’t like me when I’m angry. There’s a lesson in there for all attorneys.”

Rose had clashed with Southern District prosecutors over their decision to refrain from presenting evidence that could have justified a tougher sentence for Bryan Holm, the convicted drug dealer who was facing a weapons charge.

But according to court filings by Holm’s attorney, Dean Stowers, that email may have been intended as a warning not only to federal prosecutors who challenged Rose at Holm’s sentencing, but to Olson specifically.

In court papers filed in anticipation of Holm’s appeal, Stowers says Olson has “reportedly been disclosed as a potential witness” in a lawsuit brought by former prosecutor Martha Fagg against the U.S. Department of Justice.

Fagg, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney for 12 years, alleges she was fired in June 2011, at age 54, as the result of age discrimination by Rose and her colleagues. In her lawsuit, Fagg alleges that an unspecified assistant U.S. attorney warned her at one point: “Watch your back.”

In court filings, Stowers alleges after Fagg made that claim in her lawsuit filed in March 2012, Rose sought Olson’s help in finding out who gave the warning.

In his court filings, Stowers offers no direct evidence that the Fagg lawsuit is linked to the Hulk email. But he argues that it could have been a warning to Olson that there would be consequences if she “gave testimony in the Fagg lawsuit that was upsetting” to Rose.

In his filings, Stowers stated that only Rose is able to place the email in the proper context. He asked for a hearing on that issue in March, but Rose denied the request.

The email is one of at least three that Rose sent to prosecutors earlier this year. They were first disclosed in the Holm case when prosecutors notified defense attorneys that Rose had written to prosecutor Nicholas Klinefeldt, questioning some of his staff’s practices.

The majority of the issues raised in those emails were related to the wording of court pleadings.

But Rose also expressed a concern that prosecutors weren’t presenting all of their evidence, some of which could be used to extend the prison terms of defendants.

After prosecutors mentioned those emails at a hearing, Rose entered the documents into Holm’s court record, but sealed them from public view.

A few weeks later, she wrote to several Iowa defense attorneys whose prosecutions she had questioned. She wrote that it was her understanding that Klinefeldt’s office had shared her emails with other members of the bar, and that “inaccurate, or incomplete, information about the email exchange is floating through the bar. And in my experience, that is never a good thing.”

Rose attached copies of the email exchanges with Klinefeldt, but she did not include the email referring to the Hulk that she sent to Olson.

Rose has described her emails to prosecutors as “entirely appropriate, generic contact” about errors and inconsistencies in their court filings.

Stowers learned of the email after prosecutors forwarded it to him on Feb. 21 — a month after they received it. At Stowers’ request, Rose ordered all the emails to be made public as part of the court file.

Court records indicate Stowers has asked Klinefeldt’s office to search for additional emails between prosecutors and Rose.

According to Stowers, Klinefeldt initially indicated his superiors at the U.S. Department of Justice would decide how to act on that request. But Klinefeldt now opposes such a search “for fear they would approve it and additional emails would come to light,” Stowers alleges.

The Code of Conduct for federal judges states that generally a judge should not initiate, permit, or consider communications with only one side in a case except for scheduling, administrative, or emergency purposes, and only if the communication doesn’t address substantive matters.

And, according to the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Code of Conduct, a judge shouldn’t “provide guidance on the ins-and-outs of practice” before the judge’s court or “provide direct assistance in a given case.”

Rose has been a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Iowa for nine months.

She previously worked as a prosecutor and served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from 2009 through August 2012.

The Register has filed a formal Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Among other things, the Register has asked for all emails between Rose and federal prosecutors in Iowa over an 18-week period.

Stowers Law Firm in the News: Dean Stowers

This article (reprinted below) appeared in the Des Moines Register last week.

Lawyer: Iowa judge acts as ‘prosecutor-in-chief’

Stephanie Rose was sworn in as a new federal judge for the Southern District of Iowa at a ceremony attended by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder last November. / Rodney White/Register File Photo

Written by
Clark Kauffman
  • FILED UNDER

ABOUT THE JUDGE

Stephanie Rose was hired as a federal prosecutor in 1997, and spent 12 years overseeing a wide range of cases. She was the lead prosecutor on more than 260 felony cases, and helped process the nearly 400 people arrested during the 2008 raid on the Agriprocessors plant in Postville.
She was later criticized by some for the way the Postville defendants were sent, assembly-line style, through the court system. Within 10 days of the raid, a judge had taken plea deals for 297 people. Rose, who was the deputy criminal chief in the prosecutor’s office at that time, later told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee she played no role in the planning of the raid or the handling of plea bargains.
In November 2009, Rose was promoted to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. In that role, she came under fire for seeking a life-in-prison sentence for Agriprocessors plant manager Sholom Rubashkin, a 51-year-old first-time offender, after his conviction on 86 counts of federal bank fraud. Six former attorneys general questioned Rose’s interpretation of federal criminal sentencing guidelines, and eventually the Department of Justice revised its approach and sought a prison term of 25 years.
In September, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first female U.S. District Court judge in Iowa’s Southern District, which stretches from Council Bluffs to Des Moines to Davenport. The vote was 89-1. Both of Iowa’s U.S. senators, Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley, voted for her confirmation.

ARTICLE

One of Iowa’s most prominent federal judges is accused of improperly playing the role of “prosecutor-in-chief” in criminal cases by ordering the U.S. Attorney’s Office to provide evidence that can result in longer prison sentences, court records show.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose has complained to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa Nicholas Klinefeldt that his prosecutors aren’t providing her with information that can be used to extend prison sentences, according to a Des Moines Register review of emails that are part of a court case and were recently unsealed.

Court transcripts show Rose, a former prosecutor who is now in her first year on the bench, has clashed with prosecutors over that issue in at least three criminal cases this year.

In a case involving convicted drug dealer Bryan Holm, Rose ordered prosecutors to provide evidence that could extend Holm’s prison sentence on a weapons charge. When they refused, citing a plea agreement they had signed, Rose called a police officer to the stand, questioned the officer herself and imposed a sentence that was two to three years longer than what prosecutors had contemplated.

Rose then sent prosecutors an email comparing herself to the comic book superhero the Hulk, saying there was “a lesson” there for attorneys: “You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

Holm’s attorney, Dean Stowers, says in court papers his client was “caught in the crossfire” between Rose and federal prosecutors who refused to do her bidding. Stowers, who is appealing Holm’s sentence, says the Hulk email “tends to support the view that there is a price to be paid” if prosecutors don’t take her advice.

“Any defendant, including Mr. Holm, would be particularly alarmed by such judicial advocacy in seeking to enhance his sentence,” Stowers wrote in court filings.

“Most defendants have a hard enough time defending against the prosecuting attorney. … They at least should expect the judge will not be assuming the role of prosecutor-in-chief,” he wrote.

Rose, who at 40 is the nation’s youngest federal judge, declined to comment on the matter, as did Stowers and Klinefeldt. But in court papers, Rose has characterized Stowers’ allegations about her conduct as “inaccurate, at best, and deliberately misleading, at worst.”

She has also described her emails to prosecutors as “entirely appropriate, generic contact.”

The Code of Conduct for federal judges states that generally a judge should not initiate, permit, or consider “ex parte communications” — that is, communications directed to only one party in a case — except for scheduling, administrative, or emergency purposes, and only if the communication doesn’t address substantive matters.

And, according to the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Code of Conduct, a judge shouldn’t “provide guidance on the ins-and-outs of practice” before the judge’s court or “provide direct assistance in a given case.”

Rose has served as a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Iowa for nine months. She served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from November 2009 through August 2012.

In that role, she was occasionally accused of being too aggressive in the prosecution of some cases, including that of the former plant manager of Agriprocessors in Postville.

The emails from Rose to Klinefeldt, who has been Iowa’s top Southern District prosecutor since 2009, came to light last week.

In January, Rose made the emails part of the court record in the Holm case, but sealed them from public view. In March, she agreed to a request by Holm’s attorney to unseal the documents, but they remained inaccessible to the public until last week when they were requested by the Register.

Judge to prosecutor: ‘Baffled by refusals’

The emails — signed by “Steph” and addressed to “Nick” — show that in January, Rose wrote to Klinefeldt and said she was “growing increasingly frustrated” with “a few global issues” regarding the way his office conducted business. In her emails, Rose asked Klinefeldt for a meeting. Klinefeldt responded, “Absolutely.”

Most of the issues cited by Rose deal with what she considered minor errors or inconsistencies in the way prosecutors worded various pleadings or briefs. But Rose also questioned the prosecutors’ reluctance to provide information that could be used to lengthen prison sentences.

She wrote: “I’m troubled by your office’s occasional refusal to provide relevant discovery information to the United States Probation Office. I’m baffled by similar refusals to provide relevant sentencing information to me.”

Rose specifically cited the prosecutors’ refusal to provide information on the use of a firearm in a recent drug-trafficking case involving Devon Braet — information that could have been used to increase Braet’s sentence.

She also cited a case involving John Paul Bowers, who was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. In that case, prosecutors didn’t offer any witnesses or evidence to support a longer sentence based on information that the gun in question was stolen.

At Bowers’ sentencing, Rose expressed frustration with prosecutors, saying, “I need more information from the government on why it’s not producing the witnesses that it’s not producing. … Frankly, my inclination, if I don’t get any other information, is to vary upward to the maximum (sentence), and I don’t know that that’s fair to Mr. Bowers. … I’m just completely baffled by the government’s position, frankly.”

At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Scorpiniti asked Rose to specify her authority as a judge “to require the government to produce evidence or to require the government to explain its reasons” for not presenting evidence.

According to a transcript of that hearing, Rose didn’t address the question directly, but said she had “to have relevant information to sentence somebody.”

Rose clashed with prosecutors twice in the case of Bryan Holm, a former drug dealer who was charged last year with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Just 15 days after her lifetime appointment as a federal judge was confirmed last fall, Rose presided over a hearing at which Holm pleaded guilty to the charge. Over the objections of both prosecutors and Holm’s attorney, Rose ordered Holm detained until his sentencing hearing in January.

Then, in advance of Holm’s sentencing, Rose indicated she was considering the option of lengthening Holm’s sentence, in part because of information that he may have possessed drugs or recklessly discharged a weapon. She issued a written order directing prosecutors to present evidence along those lines at Holm’s sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford Wendel refused. At the sentencing hearing, he cited the plea agreement in which the government had agreed not to seek certain penalty “enhancements” against Holm.

“It is the discretion of the United States Attorney’s Office, as part of the Executive Branch, to choose what testimony to present,” Wendel told Rose.

Scorpiniti, another assistant U.S. attorney, then stood up and said the prosecutor’s office wanted to make it part of the record that Rose had contacted Klinefeldt about the case to ask why his prosecutors were refusing to provide requested evidence.

According to court filings by Stowers, Rose then became “angry and flustered.” She called a Boone police officer to the stand and questioned him, eliciting testimony about someone’s use of a firearm inside an apartment where Holm had lived. She then sentenced Holm to eight years in prison — far in excess of the range contemplated by the plea agreement.

Before the hearing was over, the judge pointed out that prosecutors hadn’t called any witnesses “despite the fact that I ordered them to.” Rose also acknowledged sending the emails to Klinefeldt, but characterized them as “entirely appropriate and generic contact about problems I was having, one of which was the failure of the government to file a memo in the Holm case.”

Judge sends email referring to ‘Hulk’

Two hours after the sentencing hearing was wrapped up, Rose sent an email to Shannon Olson, who handled appeals for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Rose’s three-sentence email carried the subject header, “Hulk.”

In the email, Rose likened herself to the comic-book character Bruce Banner who turns into the Hulk when angered. She wrote: “You know how Bruce Banner says, ‘You won’t like me when I’m angry?’ There’s a lesson in there for all attorneys. Enjoy that transcript.”

The last sentence was an apparent reference to the transcript of that day’s sentencing hearing, which Olson would have to review as part of Holm’s appeal.

In March, Rose denied, without comment, Stowers’ request for a hearing to determine the full extent of any communications she’d had with prosecutors.

The Register asked Rose the intent behind the “Hulk” email and whether she had provided advice to defense attorneys on how to improve their court filings.

Rose declined to comment, saying that it was not proper for the court to address matters of pending litigation. She said she looked forward to addressing the issues in the future.

Stowers has appealed Holm’s sentence, arguing that Rose improperly extended his client’s prison sentence by calling a witness “out of apparent anger and frustration with the government’s position and refusal to pursue the maximum possible arguable punishment.”

Iowa’s Marijuana Racial Disparity Problem

Did you know that if you are black in Iowa you are 8.34 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than if you are white?  According to a new study released June 4, 2013 by the ACLU Iowa ranks worst in the nation in racial disparities of marijuana arrests.  Within Iowa, Dubuque County holds the prize for the largest racial disparity in pot arrests clocking in at 1,816 arrests per 100,000 African Americans vs. 181 arrests per 100,000 white Americans.  Most startling is that blacks and whites admit to using marijuana at relatively similar rates.  Nationally, blacks are only 3.7 times as likely to be arrest for marijuana possession as whites.  That makes Iowa’s rate about double the national average.  Other major offending counties in Iowa include Woodbury, Johnson, Linn and Clinton counties.

 

The Dubuque County Courthouse. This particular...

The Dubuque County Courthouse. This particular courthouse is an example of Beaux-Arts architecture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This is not Iowa’s only problem when it comes to racial disparities and the criminal justice system.  As the ACLU press release points out, Iowa incarcerates African Americans at almost double the national average  of white Americans (13.6 times the rate of white Americans).  It appears we are enforcing our drug laws in a manner inconsistent with our storied history on civil rights.  Iowa was one of the first states to declare that African Americans were not property and would not be returned to former slave holders and did so long before the United States Supreme Court did.  Iowa was the first state to admit women to the practice of law and Iowa was one of the first states to permit marriage equality.  This disturbing trend in how arrest and incarceration rates among blacks and whites must be openly discussed and steps must be taken to understand and ultimately correct the problem.

 

If you or someone you know do find yourself in trouble for possession of marijuana or for any other reason, do not hesitate to contact us at the Stowers Law Firm.  We have experienced criminal defense attorneys who can assist you in fighting your case.

 

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