Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Former Vermont Chief Justice: Douglas wrong on pot cases

Franklin Billings, Jr., former Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, has taken Gov. Jim Douglas to task over the Governor's order to law enforcement to skip the Windsor County State's Attorney in marijuana and other drug cases. Chief Justice Billings says that the Governor is both interfering with the prosecutorial discretion the voters in Windsor County have given to Robert Sand, who, as State's Attorney, is an elected official. Douglas argues, weakly, that Sand is abusing his discretion and says that he's received many letters supporting him, particularly from law enforcement around the state.

Personally, I don't know where Gov. Douglas is getting his support from. Letters to the editor in the newspapers around the state are with Sand, and I think that Chief Justice Billings hit it right on the head. Douglas is trying to circumvent our prosecutorial system (and the voters in Windsor County) for his political gain. I have many friends who have met the Governor and they all say he's a nice guy, but he's wrong on this one. Sand is doing the right thing. We need action on the issue of drug policy, and Sand is using his office in a progressive and proactive way to do what he thinks is right. Kudos to Sand, it takes guts to do what he's doing.

We'll see how this thing plays out. Really, there ought not be a big confrontation on this because I don't see either Sand or Douglas backing down. I do think that Douglas, in an attempt to look tough on drugs, took the wrong approach here. Vermonters want drugs out of the state, but they also want a smart and effective drug strategy, not just the same old "lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key" approach that is costing us many millions of dollars per year. It's time for a change.

1 comment:

Dews said...


In Vermont???

When did this happen?