I want to deviate a little bit form T & T’s usual back of tricks. This story does not involve murder or child abuse. It does not involve any sort of violence nor is the “perp” an illegal alien gang member or a career criminal. It is the story of two states, medical marijuana, a plea deal, and the State of California “deporting” a native-born Californian for no stated reason.
In January 2011, a 29-year old man we will call T.J., a legal resident of California, was driving through Arizona on the way to a family visit on the East Coast. T.J. was a legal medical marijuana cardholder in California, prescribed for anxiety, and was traveling with legally-acquired marijuana in the trunk of his car He was stopped in the high desert region of Arizona for a minor traffic infraction, and consented to a search of his car after the cop had a “feeling” T.J. had marijuana in the vehicle. He consented to the search because he knew he could have been detained while the officer obtained a warrant.
He was arrested for possession and transport of marijuana for sale, booked and released. He turned around and returned to California, and shortly thereafter retained an attorney in Arizona. The penalty could have been as severe as several years’ imprisonment or as little as probation.
In concert with his criminal defense attorney, T.J. decided to plead guilty to transportation of marijuana for sale, a Class 3 felony, through a plea bargain, avoiding a trial. A judgment and sentencing hearing at the end of June outlined the terms of the plea deal. The terms of the plea kept T.J. out of jail in Arizona, but necessitated paying a series of fines, community service and three years probation. Terms of probation included random drug testing (which also meant no more medical marijuana) and no alcohol use or spending time socializing in bars. Because T.J. had gainful full-time employment in California, he and his attorney asked that probation be served in California. He was also ordered to pay an interstate processing fee and a refundable interstate extradition deposit along with monthly probation fees.
Here is why you are reading this story: Earlier this week T.J. learned that the State of California did not accept his probation, and told him he had to leave the state, nearly two months after Arizona drafted the terms of probation. Yes, you are reading this correctly—a 29-year old white male United States citizen, a taxpaying resident of California, was deported (of sorts) by the state of California.
In the court order, in the section titled “Uniform Conditions of Supervised Probation,” there is a statement that reads:
I may apply for Interstate Compact supervision in the state of California and will not proceed to that state until reporting instructions are received and the APD [Arizona Probation Department] issues a written travel permit.
Problem is, T.J. has NOT been residing in Arizona. He holds a job and maintains a residence in California, and was never jailed in Arizona. Once he was booked, he was free to go, with no travel restrictions. He even asked permission from Arizona’s probation department to attend a family function in Mexico—something required by the terms of his probation.
California’s Department of Probation did not give T.J. or his attorney in Arizona a reason for denying T.J.’s request to serve his probation in California. T.J. drove down to Arizona to try to get things straightened out, but has been told that he can be anywhere BUT California.
Yes, you are reading this correctly. A gainfully employed white male who has broken no laws in California, who plead guilty to a class 3 felony in Arizona and has agreed to terms of probation, has been deported from his state of residence. As I write this, his attorney believes that T.J. may be unable to return to California until the end of September.
So now it’s legal to “deport” an American citizen from a given state, but it’s nearly impossible to deport an illegal alien who is breaking the law by being here, let alone other probable infractions including identity theft, driving without a license, and maybe welfare fraud? It’s legal to prevent a U.S. citizen from holding down a job, to put his life in limbo because the state of California is broke and unwilling to “supervise” his probation? (As part of his agreed-upon sentencing, T.J. will pay a monthly probation fee.)
Seriously, is this what this state and nation have come to? And if any of our readers happen to be attorneys with ideas on how this miscarriage of justice should proceed, please contact me through T & T.