Davis seeking review of 2-year drug sentence

May 14, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Marijuana-rights advocate Pamela Snowhite Davis has requested a judicial review of the two-year prison sentence she received April 28 from Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. for a felony drug conviction.

Davis' attorneys also filed papers in Carroll Circuit Court yesterday seeking a change of venue for her June 10 trial on drug distribution charges because she doesn't feel she can get a fair trial in Carroll.

"I believe that the length of my sentence was due not to the crime for which I was convicted, but was due to my outspokenness in supporting the legalization of marijuana," Davis said in her application for a sentence review.

"I also believe I was incarcerated because of the publicity resulting from the unusual circumstances surrounding my arrest."

Davis, 48, of Silver Run, was convicted in March of maintaining a common nuisance, possessing marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia based on evidence seized when the county's Narcotics Task Force raided her 80-acre farm near the Pennsylvania line May 7, 1992.

Task force officers, disguised as United Parcel Service deliverymen, brought a package containing 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana and addressed to Terrapin Station, the Davis family farm.

When a woman at the farm signed for the package, the task force raided the place and arrested Davis, two of her children and another woman who was living at the farm.

Davis was sentenced to five years in state prison with all but two years suspended, fined $2,500 and ordered to serve five years on supervised probation, undergo drug treatment and submit to random urinalysis.

The drug distribution charges stem from a November raid on Liberation, her Westminster clothing and accessory store, from which an undercover officer took what were advertised as sterile marijuana seeds to the crime lab. There, the seeds sprouted into marijuana plants.

Davis cited widespread publicity as a factor in her decision to pursue both of her requests to the court.

arrest and prosecution have received extensive and pervasive pretrial publicity," said Davis in her request for a change of venue for her pending drug distribution trial.

She supported her statement with a list of 20 articles about her cases.

"The extent of the pretrial publicity will prevent me from having a fair and impartial trial," Davis concluded.

Davis' attorney, Stephen P. Bourexis, declined to comment when asked by a reporter whether Davis actively sought the publicity she says makes it impossible for her to receive a fair trial in Carroll County.

He said Davis is acting in what she feels are her best interests.

"It is obvious she would like to get the opportunity to get a trial more favorable to her outside of Carroll County," Mr. Bourexis said.

Davis said her sentence should be reviewed because she had no prior criminal convictions and the amount of marijuana seized from her home was small. She also said that other defendants who have been caught with greater amounts of drugs, including cocaine, were not given sentences as severe as hers.

"These people have not, however, advocated the legalization of marijuana as have I," she told the court.

Mr. Bourexis said a three-judge panel -- made up of of judges in Maryland's 5th Circuit, which includes Carroll, Howard and Anne Arundel counties -- could review Davis' sentence and impose any sentence allowable by law for the offense. The maximum penalties are six years in prison and fines up to $16,500.

"We feel that if a three-judge panel has the opportunity to review the sentence, we are hopeful that she will have a more favorable decision," Mr. Bourexis said.

Davis has at least one other person supporting her efforts.

Kevin J. Alt, a Westminster businessman, has started the Pamela Snowhite Davis Legal Defense Fund to help pay Davis' bills.

"The primary reason that I volunteered to be the chairman . . . is because I feel she was punished by the system because she spoke out and criticized the government," said Mr. Alt, 29, part owner of Alt's Transport Service Inc.

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