Prosecutors above the law

We have a ton of problems here in the United States with out-of-control prosecutors who seem to be completely unaccountable (and immune to lawsuits when they abuse their position).

We’re not the only ones with that problem. Check out this story from Russia.

Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute, some 600 kilometres southeast of Moscow, one of the best-equipped chemical-analysis labs in Russia. She is a specialist in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants.

In September 2011, the defence attorneys of Sergey Shilov, a Russian businessman under investigation by the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS), asked her to provide an expert opinion on the amount of opiates that could possibly be extracted from 42 metric tonnes of food poppy seeds that Shilov had imported from Spain in 2010. . .

. . .On the basis of gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry measurements of samples analysed in her lab, Zelenina calculated the overall morphine and codeine content in the poppy-seed consignment in question to be 0.00069% and 0.00049%, respectively. In such low concentrations, opiates can only be identified or extracted in well-equipped analytical chemistry labs, she wrote.

“This opinion apparently failed to satisfy the prosecutors,” says Irina Levontina, a linguist at the Russian Language Institute in Moscow, who is frequently heard as an expert in libel and drug lawsuits. “It has become quite common for Russian prosecutors to accuse independent experts if they don’t like their opinions. It can be downright dangerous for experts to appear in court.”

Talk about a chilling effect on both science and criminal defense.

She’s been released pending trial, but faces serious charges. More here

Just as a reminder, Russia has an extremely backward zero-tolerance drug policy that outlaws heroin replacement programs and needle exchange — a policy that has resulted in a 10-fold increase in HIV cases in the past decade.

Oh, and the head of the UNODC is Russian representative Yuri Fedotov.

[Thanks, Lars]
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22 Responses to Prosecutors above the law

  1. claygooding says:

    with several jury refusals to convict happening recently it is making demanding a jury trial over minor marijuana charges look more interesting all the time,,if we boycott plea bargaining it would grid lock the courts.

  2. claygooding says:

    Absurd doesn’t cover it.

  3. claygooding says:

    10 Inspiring Quotes From Mashable’s Social Good Summit

    1. Mira Sorvino

    “More is spent in a single month [in the U.S.] fighting the war on drugs than all monies ever expended domestically or internationally fighting slavery from its inception. Per month, we spend more on the drug war than we ever have trying to free slaves.”
 — Mira Sorvino, actress and U.N. goodwill ambassador

    The subject is #1 everywhere but in our congress.

  4. allan says:

    yeah… well… they may be bigger asshats, but WE have the Gulag. ha ha… 🙁

    Michelle Alexander is bringing her book, the New Jim Crow, to the UofO next month. I’m gonna havta go to that.

  5. Matthew Meyer says:

    OT: A very interesting Seattle Weekly profile of Alison Holcomb and the hubbub around I-502.

    • claygooding says:

      I enjoyed that article and took the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation test while there,,interesting.

    • divadab says:

      Thanks for the link. For all their gnashing of teeth, have Hiatt and Steinborn ever gotten an initiative on the ballot? I-502 is seriously flawed, but it advances the game. Good for Alison for building a coalition and doing the work to get this before the people.

  6. Maria says:

    Russia’s ass backwards drug laws, hard line traditionalist ‘punish the weak and sick’ mentality, and their heavy and complex economic and societal issues have combined to create one of the most horrific, cheapest, nastiest street drugs yet. Krokodil (highly impure desomorphine). Which is now slowly spreading it’s way across Europe. Oh, they also are blessed with one of (if not the) highest rates of HIV infection among needle users.

    But I guess all that are measures of success for drug warriors.

    The Drug War! Winning!

  7. allan says:

    led “war on drugs” questioned at U.N.

    The presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala all called for a vigorous global debate of anti-narcotics laws at the United Nations on Wednesday, raising new questions about the wisdom of the four-decade-old, U.S.-led “war on drugs.”

  8. darkcycle says:

    Bastards. Feds are at it again in California. They are dead set on eliminating all dispensaries.,0,2760642.story?track=rss

  9. darkcycle says:

    I just hope and pray that I-502 and the other initiatives pass. For my own part I would feel better if the feds had better things to do than hassle medical suppliers. 502 passes, and suddenly mmj is the least of their concerns.

  10. Servetus says:

    In theory, illicit drug laws are designed to work only in a perfect society.

    In the perfect society there is no greed, no corrupt cops, no megalomaniacal prosecutors, no goofy politicians, no prison industrial complexes, no lying psychopaths, no tweaked authoritarians.

    Yet as close as any society might get to theoretical perfection, prohibition rips it apart.

    What else should we expect? When authoritarian countries such as Russia, Malaysia, Iran and China get their mitts on something like drug enforcement, as bad as any country’s government might be, adding prohibition to the mix makes it look like some joker spiked the botulinum toxin with anthrax spores.

  11. mr Ikesheeny says:

    Part of the problem with the mania of promise breaking is that many holdovers from the last administration are still active in the feds prosecutorial bureaucracy. The problem may be; Bambi cannot seem to get real reformers through congress. Just sayin’

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