The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What is the definition of libel again?

Oh yeah:

Here it is.

Ok, now read this.

Ya think?


Bob Newland said...

PP does perseverate, doesn't he?

PP said...
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Bob Newland said...
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PP said...
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PP said...
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Carl said...

PP accuses others of "childish insults". This from the guy who, on the very same day, writes (if you can call it that) that Sibby is a "puffy shirt wearing, lunatic hillbilly"

Just more hypocrisy from the guy who condemns other's marijuana use while he crows about his own beer consumption.

Michael Sanborn said...


There are some problems with libel in any discussion here. Both Bob and Pat are vulnerable to having not nice things said about them because they are both eager and willing public figures.

Bob is a frequent poster on many different blogs. If Pat's second cousin twice removed said the word "Powers" in the press, Pat is eager to post it at War College.

So that leaves them open to the "fair comment" provisions in most states' libel statutes and certainly does from a federal standpoint. (Hustler v. Falwell)

The standard I want used on this blog is that anything stated must be provably true. I don't know that we've accomplished that here. I'm certain Pat didn't accomplish it in his "letter" to Judge Delaney.

Here's where Pat runs into problems in my opinion. (And I'm NOT A LAWYER so don't anyone consider this advice!)

If you look at Carol Burnett v. National Enquirer, you note that Burnett successfully trumped the public figure/fair comment defense. National Enquirer published a story that Burnett was publicly drunk with Henry Kissinger. She wasn't. She is famous for never drinking...ever. The Enquirer knew this and published anyway, and got an $800,000 judgment against them for their lack of judgment.

One of the reasons for starting this blog was that some of the posts allowed on other blogs, including but not limited to Pat's, rose to the level of libel in my opinion. And, worse yet, they rose to the level of vicious, something I've been called a time or two.

A good lawyer might suggest that Pat's piece rises to the level of libel that could be successfully litigated. Problem? No lawyer in South Dakota is interested in libel cases unless they absolutely KNOW they will win. Most are contingency cases and nobody I've heard of is particularly good at litigating libel in South Dakota.

Here are some issues with Pat's piece:

1. He describes Newland's stash as a "huge" and "a whole bunch." "Huge" and "whole bunch" bring words like "kilo" to mind, not "ounces." It was less than 4 ounces. So that part is utterly false, and Pat has no doubt read all the media on it and knew before he published.

2. "Please consider this my appeal to the bench for a strong message to Mr. Newland, coupled with a course of treatment for an addiction he is powerless to resist." I have known Bob Newland for many years. I have also known people who have addictive personalities. Bob's not an addict. So unless Pat is Bob's personal attending physician, he is unqualified to declare that Bob is addicted to anything other than insulting Powers.

He compounds the issue by repeating the libel several times.

3. "Trapped in the environment that he is, it is impossible for Bob to challenge his world view and to break his cycle of addiction." Again he repeats the addiction libel but also adds that his world view is in dire need of changing and suggests it is in the court's purview to send people to jail for the pupose of chainging their world views.

Now that's F#@K*N'scary! And, for a guy who is always concerned about legislating from the bench...wooo hoo!

PP said...
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Bill Fleming said...

Mike and Bob, I have a friend who's a pretty good lawyer who might be quite interested in this. Last we talked he asked me to keep an eye out for this kind of thing.

His name is Daniel Sheehan.

I'll give him a call if you want me to, Bob.

PP, a simple public apology and a sincere request for Bob's forgiveness (on your blog) would probably go a long way just now.

Just a thought.

Carl said...

PP - the ultimate nanny-stater.

Bill Fleming said...
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Bill Fleming said...
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Bill Fleming said...

By the way, PP, Einstein was a physicist, not a psychiatrist. I doubt you'll find that definition of insanity in any Medical Reference books.

But of course, you're welcome to try.

Here's a starter kit:

Here's a starter kit.

Bob Newland said...

Ironic that Einstein's statement was coupled with criticism of drug prohibition, the disastrous experiment of the 1920s. Today's drug prohibition is the very embodiment of insanity.

Bill Fleming said...

Also ironic, Bob, is the fact that the word "insanity" is no longer used in the medical/scientific community.

PP said...
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Carl said...


Tell us the substantive difference between the legal alcohol you brag about consuming and the illegal marijuana consumed by other?

Here's a head start (get it?): More spouses are abused, more fistfights are started, more people are shot, more cars are wrecked and drivers and passengers killed by people under the influence of alcohol than by people under the influence of pot.

And, what qualifies you to daignose anyone but you as a substance abuser?

PP said...
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David Newquist said...

I am not sure whether case law has changed the standards for libel, or if the threat of financial disaster has been removed from uttering it. As an editor and later media adviser to student publications, any assertions of a false and negative nature that could affect a person's occupation and standing in the community sent shock waves through the staffs. Even a statement with a basis in fact that is exaggerated into a defect of character was also actionable. Power's remark on Bob Newland's alleged addiction seems to fit that latter category. Had this accusation slipped into the pages of any newspaper I worked for, there would have been an immediate editorial conference with the newspaper's attorney. We would be expecting a call from Newland's attorney and would be making a decision whether to try to substantiate the accusation or to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. The settlement option was nearly always the solution, because proving something like an addiction which impaired ones abilities was extremely difficult and unlikely, and damages were presumed.

The distinction between expressing an opinion under the fair comment and criticism rule and making a factual assertion is crucial here. Powers made a factual assertion. In the not too distant past, he would either be forced to prove his statement or be assessed damages--which were stiff enough to make anyone think hard about publishing anything that could be regarded as libelous.

With the advent of the Internet and its web logs, the standards that define libel seemed to have changed or are in a state of suspension. The ignorant, malicious, and ego-driven have no restraints.

Until Powers and his ilk are hauled into court, found guilty, and have court-ordered lien notices nailed to their doors, as Tyson did with Herman Schumacher in Herreid, we will have to live with media that are the instruments of the petty and the ill-intentioned, rather than a media whose first obligation is an accurate presentation of facts.

The blogosphere harps constantly about its right of free speech. They seem to be unaware that all state constitutions and legal codes define an equivalent right not to be defamed.

Morally, what PP and Sibson do to others and to political discussion is far more damaging than anything inhaled via roach or bong.

Taunia Adams said...

Hmmm...I go on vacation and things go to hell here.

I thought this was the kind of "banter" this blog was going to get away from. The civility has ceased already?

And why does PAT get to do here exactly what he bans at his own site?


I wonder how Bob came out? Anyone?

Pat, for what it's worth, what goes around comes around.

Bill Fleming said...

That has nothing to do with addiction, PP.

You're wring in accusing Bob of having a disease.

You have no standing in the matter.

I could just as well accuse you of being an alcoholic and having you prove to me that you're not.

Do you want to try some of that?

Bill Fleming said...

Taunia, Bob's sentencing is at 3:15 today.

No news yet.

Carl said...


I know the legal difference. Any idiot knows that.

My question was different. What is the substantiave difference between alcohol and marijuana? In addition to the greater harm caused by alcohol use and abuse than by marijuana use and abuse that I noted above?

Or, let me put it another way, since alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, why do you support keeping alcohol legal and keeping marijuana illegal?

And, again, what qualifies you to daignose anyone but you as a substance abuser?

PP said...
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Carl said...


I acknowledge the legal difference just fine. My point is, the law is out of whack with how those two drugs (alcohol and marijuana) work.

The legal differnce is not related to the substantive difference. If it was, alcohol would be illegal and marijuana legal.

I'll ask a third time: What is the substantive difference between marijuana and alcohol?

Or, in the alternative, since alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, why do you support keeping alcohol legal and keeping marijuana illegal?

And, again, what qualifies you to daignose anyone but you as a substance abuser?

PP said...
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PP said...

You know what's funny?

When everyone gets worked into a lather.

And we see how quickly decorum leaves the forum.

Carl said...

What's funny PP is your inability to defend your position. Not as funny as the hypocrisy of you making childish insults while you berate others for making childish insults. Not as funny as your Nanny State position in favor of criminalized marijuana use. But funny.

On the other hand, you labeling others substance abusers, with no knowledge, or training, or basis. That's not very funny. Shame on you for that. Shame.

Taunia Adams said...

What's funny is you doing the same thing you whine about Newland doing.

Asking questions and never giving an answer.

And we know you don't have an answer, because how do you define "it just doesn't feel right when marijuana is not as dangerous as alcohol and I want it to be?"

Taunia Adams said...

Go back to your own blog and run your own police, aka, NANNY state. And delete all the comments you want.


Carl said...
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Bill Fleming said...

Carl and Taunia, yes, PP disgraced himself today.

But enough about him. Who cares?

I went to Bob's sentencing and witnessed the whole thing, and I have decided it's not my place to comment on things publicly without coordinating with Bob.

In other words, this is Bob's story to break, or Mike's, not mine. I'm not a journalist, just a doddering old philosopher poet.

Even so, I recognize that there are some things I should be careful about. This is one of them.

I encourage everyone who is truly interested in this to insist on seeing a copy of today's court transcript.

All in all, I thought it the whole session was pretty remarkable.

If you were to read the transcript, I assure you you would find it far more enlightening than anything I could quickly piece together here.

Thanks for understanding. BF

Taunia Adams said...

Ugh, or better, WTF?

I know Newland will transcribe the hearing in style, but what was the sentence?

No one would consider you a killjoy for providing what the rest of the media is going to, without Newland's take.

With your unguarded hints with you saying Bob can tell his own story, I guess they didn't take him out and shoot him in the courtyard. Or, that they hauled him directly to jail?

Taunia Adams said...

BTW, Pat proudly announced (posted) a link to his slum at Epp's....the same thing he deleted your comment for at his dump.

Do as I say, not as I do. Hypocrite.

Hmm...what if he really is a hypocrite and partakes himself but has to maintain the "clean image" for unknown reasons, like they'd throw him out of the Repub party for admitting he did?


That would be noteworthy. Don'tcha think?

Bill Fleming said...

Ok. Here are some details, but not all I know.

All in all I'd give it a "not bad."

Bob was sentenced on one count only (besides the speeding ticket that got him stopped in the first place).

The charge was for possession.

He had 3.7 ounces of marijuana in his car when he was stopped (3 "lids" as we used to call them. Is that term still in use?)

He was not charged with intent to distribute (that charge was dropped.)

Nor was he charged with driving under the influence (I presume because he wasn't)

He got some some suspended local jail time (not prison time) under some fairly specific probation conditions, one of which is that he cannot campaign for his cause until his probation period is over.

(? I don't know what to think about this.)

The rest, like I said is best told by Bob and Mike and the reporters. I'll for sure jump in if I hear something that doesn't square with what I witnessed.

...oh, ok, one cool thing. Judge Delaney compared Bob to Mohammed Ali, a person he greatly admired.

Taunia Adams said...

How long probation? SIS, usually a year?

And what's the connection w/ Ali, under Delaney's interpretation?

Anonymous said...
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PP said...

Already posting anonymously Bob?

Carl said...

PP, still waiting your attempt at answering my questions.

Taunia Adams said...

Newland! Come play! We want the whole bedtime story with warm milk!

I see where you have to be careful with your words for a period of time, but telling about your court experience, and praising Judge Delaney *wink*, can't be a violation.

Besides, whatever you post here will be twisted and plagiarized for other less-than-deserving places.

Taunia Adams said...

Carl, you're a militant.

He'll never answer and he's loving the attention he's getting. It will surely be the next topic at his slum, all the attention he's getting here.

Merely a narcissist or darker, a psycopath?

And he's waiting for Newland's report so he can steal it too.

Bill Fleming said...

Sanborn would be proud.

PP posted more on this blog today than he ever does on his own.

Plus, we made him take down his libelous screed to the judge. Chalk up one for The Decorum Forum.

High 5 all. Rock and roll babies.

PP said...

Bill, wrong on two counts.

On the other hand, I managed to pretty easily illustrate that there is no decorum at the forum, and there is as much name calling here, as anywhere else in the blogosphere.

Bob Newland said...
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Bill Fleming said...

p.s. Taunia, the Mohammed Ali thing was in reference to MA's serving his time as a consequence of his position of being drafted as opposed to leaving the country and making big bucks as a fighter, which he could easily have done.

p.p.s note that the Libeler here is accusing the libeled of and his defenders of name calling.

I bet his candidate for Governor is proud of him today. He really showed everyone how its done on the big bad blogs, don'tcha think?

Carl said...

PP, I didn't call you names. I asked you reasonable questions about your position vis-a-vis marijuana and alcohol.

Will you support your position? Or continue to concede your view is absent foundation?

Taunia Adams said...

Thanks, BF.

Bob, I hope you're not feeling like a whipped pup tonight. I think you scare the hell out of those like PHPH.

PHPH is NEVER going to go to jail for anything he believes in, anyone disagree?

If I was in SD, I'd bring you cookies during your tour of duty.

Bob Newland said...

Hard to go to jail for a principle when you have none.

Just curious, Taunia, where are you?

Anonymous said...

True to form, Powers's letter to Judge Delaney was pathetic and reprehensible.

But it should come as no surprise after witnessing, over the past few months, Pat's gleeful, giddy celebration about Bob's legal situation.

Forget the libel, which the letter was full of. Forget the comic book psychology. Forget the outright dishonesty, which is Powers's stock in trade. The most outrageous thing about the letter was Pat's feigned concern over Bob's made-up "addiction."

That whole line of attack was so low, so disingenuous -- and at the same time so perfectly illustrative of Pat's character and integrity. Judge Delaney doesn't know the history between Pat and Bob; doesn't know that Pat doesn't give a damn about Bob; doesn't know that Pat has been downright ecstatic over Bob's arrest; doesn't know that the pretend concern about Bob's "addiction" was just a shameful attempt to appear credible; and, most importantly, doesn't know that Pat's letter was inspired more than anything by the fact that Bob has gotten the better of Pat in just about every argument they've ever had, on any topic.

So Pat might have won the battle, with Newland locked up for 45 days. But the war? Well, the letter has been removed from Pat's blog, but Bob's action for libel remains, if he wants to pursue it. And I'm sure Bob or one of his many friends preserved a copy of the letter before Pat got scared and took it down.

Actually, the fact that he took it down helps Bob's case, because it implies that Pat knew what it said is false.

I think the statute of limitations on an action for libel is more than 45 days, right?

Anonymous said...
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Taunia Adams said...

I'm in Missouri. And you MIGHT have gotten, at most, a weekend in jail or a couple of hundred dollars' fine here in Missouri for the same, with a competent attorney.

I didn't see PHPH's letter.

Anyone save it?

Taunia Adams said...

Congrats, kids. This one post on this site garnered more comments than all of PHPH's posts combined did today.

Thanks for your help, PHPH! You're a gem.

Bob Newland said...

Well, I think there was plenty of decorum here--from everyone except Powers. I am proud of the fact that our readers and commentors kept their cool in the face of audacious jerkiness on the part of a guy who would not let any commentor post the kind of garbage he did here today.

As I said, his lack of any discernable principle or character strength speaks for itself. The fact that he posted a dissent to the gag order part of my sentence on his blog does not begin to show a pretense of principle. It only illuminates his lack of continuity of thought.

By the way, DID anyone copy what he posted and then took down?

Michael Sanborn said...

Here's the deal. Pat and I do not agree on everything. I'm not fond of what he posted about Bob. I'm not happy about "name calling" as it applies to "addict" any more than I am happy about anyone anonymous or otherwise referring to Pat as anything other than Pat, Mr. Powers, or PP.

There has been good commentary on this post and I don't want it to stop. From here out and on all other posts, Pat Powers is Pat Powers, PP, Pat, Mr. Powers and his blog is The South Dakota War College.

There's plenty of fodder here. We are here to agree or disagree with one another without degenerating to anything less than skillful presentations of our opinions without cheap insults.

Bill Fleming said...

Probably, Bob. Judge Delaney has a copy, right?

So also does the woman from the State's Attorney's office, yes?

And how about your lawyer?

I mean PP say he sent it.

So did he, or didn't he?

Here's what he says:

"The hammer falls on Newland today.
Stay tuned - more coverage coming…

Posted by PP at the SDWC at July 6, 2009

I notice I didn’t get an appeal for clemency and whining about having to do the time for being caught in the act of a crime from noted South Dakota drug legalization advocate Bob Newland who is due to be sentenced today for carrying around a whole bunch of pot.

Was he carrying this huge amount of an illegal drug for his ministry to the sick, who might not be able to afford illegal drugs to alleviate their suffering as defined by Bob? No. He was doing it because he has an overriding personal need to be under it’s influence.

Why did I not get this appeal? Probably because instead of writing a letter appealing for clemency in his sentencing, I would have written one to the judge - Judge Jack Delaney - requesting that a long time and recidivist offender be given a stiff sentence, and mandatory treatment for his marijuana addiction.

Since there were a few hours left before the hammer falls on Newland today, in hopes I could catch the judge before he goes into chambers, I sent a letter off to Judge Delaney. I had posted it here, but it’s going to be a moot point in short time. we’ll know at about 5pm central today if the State will just be seeing him back in court for the same thing a few years from now, or if they’ll actually do something to prevent future violations of the law due to substance abuse.

More coverage will be coming on this as it develops. Will it be outrage over him getting his hand slapped? Or will it be congratulations towards the judge for justice well deserved?"

Taunia Adams said...

Mr. Sanborn, with all due respect, and after seeing POWERS baiting everyone here and on other posts (specifically Newland), do you think allowing POWERS to continue to post here is going to maintain civility?

(Please refer to the cut-and-paste job of Flemings.)

He's losing traffic at his own site, that's apparent. And he's baiting you, too.

Taunia Adams said...

How about this fine jem?

PP said...
Will they allow you to blog from jail/treatment, or do you anticipate being out before the primary?

July 6, 2009 8:43 AM

Bill Fleming said...

Who's taking all of PP's comments down?

Bill Fleming said...

...all of everybody's comments...
are you cleaning house or something, Mike?

Bob Newland said...

Oh, he sent it. Judge Delaney mentioned that he got two negative letters (and I know he got 42 positive letters). My lawyer mentioned that Judge Delaney asked him who Pat Powers was.

My lawyer told him, and Judge D. said, "Well F@#$ him."

As for who's taking PP's comments down, I suspect it's PP. A commentor can remove his own comments from this blog.

What a weird time in the old town tonight.

Michael Sanborn said...

I've removed no Pat Powers posts. I've removed others, see new post.

Taunia Adams said...

And my prediction was correct.

Check out his new post.


And he's doing a Palin, covering up his actions by saying it was a test. (or he could see Russia from his house?)

So we're all running little hampsters in his wheel?

That's funny. He got caught in his little libelous ways and says it was a test.

Nice place Sanborn, sorry it went bad.

PP said...

Thanks for the traffic tonight. pushing 3100 hits for the day.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sanborn is taking down any comments that have referred to PP as something other than PP. And he's right to do so, in light of what he's trying to accomplish here.

It's just that Pat is so [expletive] disrespectful to medical marijuana patients generally, and Bob individually, on his blog. There's no such thing as a legitimate patient. Anyone who supports the issue is a "pothead," who is just trying to get his "ditch weed" legalized, to support his "addiction." It's this, over and over and over, every time the issue comes up. Never a shred of respect for patients, or those arguing on their behalf. No recognition that nearly half of South Dakotans (48%) disagree with him. Nothing but contempt and scorn and belittlement.

It's not that he disagrees on the issue; there's plenty of room for debate. It's the way he engages his opponents in that debate. He repeatedly and incorrigibly refuses to extend to them the respect they are entitled to. His behavior is dishonorable.

It's no wonder that we sometimes dishonor ourselves and sink to the same level. But generally speaking, there's no incentive to do otherwise. It's not like he or his blog entertains a serious debate when the issue comes up. There's an almost fundamentalist opposition to the idea that marijuana may have therapeutic value to some people, and it's obvious that, whatever his authority is, no amount of reason or argument is going to persuade him otherwise.

So why be civil, in the face of his incivility?

This guy runs a very popular blog that openly mocks an issue that is very important to a lot of people. He won't debate that issue on its merits, as has been demonstrated again and again, including right here in this post. Doesn't advocacy for the issue require one to humiliate the person if he won't give you an opportunity to humiliate his argument?

For a perfect example of this, see Pat's treatment of Sibby.

I'm not saying you should allow that here. I'm just trying to let you know where we're coming from.

Bill Fleming said...

I've been building your traffic
for two years, Pat. What else is new?

Michael Sanborn said...

Oh Taunia!

Don't leave us now! You're exactly what we're looking for.

The worst thing you called Powers was a poser, and you backed it up.

All of Powers' comments that were removed, were removed by Powers. I removed comments that degenerated into what happens sometimes at War College.

Just because Pat baited those comments, doesn't mean they are acceptable here.

It's supposed to be why you came here.

Michael Sanborn said...


You get it. Thanks.

PP said...

Anon 11pm,

I can provide you with many examples of Bob's incivility on my own, and other websites, with no intent other than to drag my name through the mud.

Aside and separate from my personal views on pot, and as Bob refuses to admit, I've engaged him in debate on the issue on several occasions, setting forth very clearly my objections to the ballot issues, as well as the idea behind the MM issue itself.

I've learned through experience that not only are those occasions never good enough, they tend to only gain me the pleasure of listening to a scatological or sexual retort from Bob in reference to me personally.

Which has earned him a permanently moderated status on my website where it won't hit the website until I have the opportunity to review it personally.

So, why would I debate him civilly on the topic, if at all? If I ever feel the need for being likened to excrement, being deemed a "phuctard" or reading a story intimating that I have sex with blow up dolls, there are plenty of other people willing to do so whose depth extends beyond one sole issue.

denature said...

I don't know if PP's strategy of admitting to being a troll is any better than the potential libel. One's ISP tends to frown on both.

Bill Fleming said...

Here's PP's letter to the Judge, rescued from my email files:

Dear Judge Delaney:

It is my understanding that a Mr. Robert Newland will be facing you on July 6th for the offense of “possession of more than two ounces but less than 8 ounces of marijuana.” Please consider this my appeal to the bench for a strong message to Mr. Newland, coupled with a course of treatment for an addiction he is powerless to resist.

Mr. Newland’s flouting of the law with regards to what the state and federal government has deemed an illegal drug is one that has occurred over decades. While he has exercised his rights in attempting to change a law he disagrees with, his addiction has caused him to continually act in violation of those same laws, much to Mr. Newland’s own personal detriment.

For those people who disagree with Mr. Newland’s position of protest on the laws surrounding the use and abuse of illegal drugs, his behavior is less than civilized. Because I stand in a position opposite to his expressed viewpoints, I have personally experienced harrasive behaviors which have ranged from mild personal attacks to more often the obscene and scatological. In one instance, Mr. Newland also publicly suggested I should encourage my six year old son should grow up and use marijuana.

I don’t consider these actions those of a political protester fighting for his cause. I consider them the actions of a deeply disturbed and addicted person crying out for society’s help in a very public way.
In the big scheme of things, when comparing his actions to those of a violent criminal they are very minor transgressions. However, in the past minor incidents have failed to alleviate the behavior. In fact, they have only emboldened it, leaving Mr. Newland as he stands today - a man inching towards his twilight years exhibiting the same character as one would expect from a impulsive teenager. In his crusade for drugs, Mr. Newland often attempts to use shock tactics to shake people out of complacency. This might be an appropriate time for the court to use it’s discretion to shock Mr. Newland out of his complacency towards standing in violation of the law.

Clearly, it is long past time that his addiction to illegal drugs should be addressed, and as part of his sentence, I would urge that you do so. A sentence which confines Mr. Newland and provides enough time for a significant course of addiction treatment would be not just to society’s benefit, but more importantly, his own. Trapped in the environment that he is, it is impossible for Bob to challenge his world view and to break his cycle of addiction.

I would sincerely ask that the State of South Dakota take the opportunity to not just punish, but to fix what has been long broken. I would urge that Mr. Newland be given the opportunity to live the rest of his time on earth free from the chains of addiction.
And we’ll know at about 5pm central today if the State will just be seeing him back in court for the same thing a few years fom now, or if they’ll actually do something to remediate his problems.

Anonymous said...

This whole marijuana issue could be handled by simply declaring it a drug like demerol for instance and dispensing it only as a drug like that. It would need a dr prescription and be obtained from a drugstore. I don't doubt that it can be used to treat certain conditions. But if allowed to be grown at home etc, it will be abused by those who simply wish a high. Why not do it that way? Would solve the problem of medical marijuana and at the same time largely prevent using it was a "high."