Prosecutorial Overkill CARROLL COUNTY

November 26, 1992

It appears that Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker II may be out to settle a score with Pamela S. Davis. Mr. Walker, who heads Carroll County's drug task force, used the most transparent pretext to arrest and then jail Ms. Davis last Monday, the day she was scheduled to be tried for allegedly dealing drugs.

The latest twist in this bizarre case only raises more questions about Mr. Walker's real intentions. Is he interested in upholding the law, or is he trying to get even with a middle-aged gadfly who favors the legalization of marijuana? Judging from Mr. Walker's actions, he wants to prosecute this marijuana advocate as if she were a drug kingpin.

Mr. Walker has been struggling to maintain his increasingly flimsy drug-dealing case against Ms. Davis ever since much of the evidence seized in the May raid of her farm was thrown out because of defective search warrants. To add insult to injury, the drug task force had to return $40,000 in business records and computer equipment that had been improperly seized during the raid.

The prosecutor may be compounding his problems with this latest arrest. Undercover police obtained some marijuana seeds that Ms. Davis was openly selling in her store. Possession of sterilized marijuana seeds is legal, and Ms. Davis believed her seeds had been properly sterilized. She even went to the trouble of obtaining a letter to that effect. When some of the seeds were tested by state police, they germinated. Arguing that Ms. Davis possessed seeds that could grow into plants, Mr. Walker had her arrested and then demanded she remain incarcerated until trial. A judge dismissed his arguments and released her on bail.

Ms. Davis may be a pain, but Mr. Walker is struggling mightily to paint her as a danger to the community. She operates Liberation, a counter-culture store, and openly advocates the legalization of marijuana. Neither is a crime. If the task force believes that she is illegally selling drugs, then it ought to build a real case against her.

Mr. Walker runs the risk of making a mockery out of the drug task force. If he continues to use the might of the state unjustifiably against an individual citizen, the rest of the community might start to wonder if this is a persecution rather than a prosecution.

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