Interview With Michael Stepanian

IstÉ^aman* I became a lawyer in 1U05 in San Fran--, cis&y arid started working with Vincent Hallinan. X Hit's an expert, hu knows everything, and he'sjhe Roughest guy who ever lived. So I started working to l!f become a criminal and personal injury lawyer. Thtn Ground *lwS7 1 started noticing what was hnpjienmp m .JHaight-Ashbury, At that stage. I was a very Jiard-nps'edi hard-drinking« athletic, sort of heavy-handed kind of a guy. ) wanted to succeed, to be a ^reat;criminal lawyer

Brioh Kohan wis the ré. and he was representing Bill j|^raftiah%and Ken Kescry at the lime. Kohan showed mc there w,as 3 whole trip coming down with music r; and dope and thejaw and said that Ihere were going yio be niilfions of kids getting jacked around. I kept ^èiirin^abdut .kids getting busted and going to jail, and ihere was ho Lawyer Who was really representing; those cases.. Older lawyers said, "Dope, ugh, hippi&v u^b' -rasshöles. you know.

So Biîl Graham threw a concert for two or three 4aySv with Quicksilver Messfcn^er Service, Jmiia ]op-|iti; Brother and the Holding Company, the Charlatans ^nd all those groat people, Then they •Sïtfède an announcement at this concert: "We've got a içôùple oft lawyers here who'll represent anybody got a legnl problem this summer-draft eva->ion, pyeri^eg big busts, little busts, whatever it is."

p So lwöuldgo to be a regular criminal lawyer during ithè ^daftbndr then at nighttime I would go to our âofficcin Haight-Ashbury and thcre'd be a Hnû of kids KWaiting!; Everyday thcre'd be 2i) busts, 10 kids would $) .be bustediteone house. 15 or 20 in another house, 3 ¿ays for sellbag ^ills, guys getting doors knocked

"fact" that the victims were really coke-crazed rapists made everyone feel considerably more noble-and, of course, fully justified the transformation of blacks into second-class citizens. As an eadier generation had learned, there was no better salve for a bad conscience than the knowledge that your, actions were diiected against sexually degenerate drug fiends.

Govern mem officials and newspaper editors reacted to (lie new drug menace with odd lapses of memory and hysterical exaggerations. Only a generation before, their strongest argument for banning prepared opium had been that the Chinese r sed it to seduce young white women into lives of unspeakable depravity. Now they claimed, in the words of U.S. Opium Commissioner Dr. Hamilton Wright, that cocaine, "more than any oilier drug, is used by those concerned in the white slave tmffic to cotjupt young gitls.n down, all kinds of stuff. We must h^ve represented 4U) or 500 that summer: Not one went tp&ta tepi ison all th-it time, and fthe kids ¿tattefi id lbs, realizing that all lawyers^ri^i^l^s and biims and assholes. Ultimately, I thmk the storefront scene stopped when th^(>arefu^P6ad^pt 'biiii^i^Al^ (Haight-Ash'jury Legal Organization) got busted. You know, there was £Be place. We ultimately high times: Why do people get caught? What pre sume of the stu-pid-4liin^ people dq? ■

high times: Why do people get caught? What pre sume of the stu-pid-4liin^ people dq? ■

STBVANiAN': Tbey talk too much. When the police officer comes up to you arid Mfeyou aquesWn, you tell him to ¿o to hell You know what l°m talking nbout? I've always got ipexplain t<a peoplethiai tfeyS have a right to keep qutet,^

o guy in the hou^^You must understand thiit^tbe : police officer is tryin^ |p put you a}spot vvrhere you're not gonnii opA out •f^inip'tv tK* tirop

Look, if you have .nothing to hide, ^htiag happen to you, okny? Bulifctbey-re coming up toyou^ i and asking you a quostion, they obviously iuspepl the answer, okay? Andthcy Vo baslc^lIy^ing taget-Information from you: lt^ noCiliega^ipstand oh yowr = constitutional rights and jusi fiay^'Lop^, give me your card, I'll check attorney-

"Ahh, what are attorneys for? TKey ll get you in trouble:1 "Br™™ mIJ^^^^k just give mu; mean? Here'j ficcr, keep your huad, dori'i card and either rU call; call you. Good aftcrnourti'" You ynderstartd? People; would hi in a lot, less trouble if they would just;; remember that theySfegot.rights:

Mania Georgian. March 17, 1934

¿3 'A it high timer: Are the courts making-entrapment more ■ difficult?

steva.ntan: Just the opposite. They're making it easier for the prosecution and impossible for the ? clients. XhcjDistncI Court of Appeaism Cal ¡form:: has ruled'that you can be busied for receiving stolen -property if a c>,p sells it to ii. How hIm ut thai! And as one recent case shows, they can have an informant ' give heroin.4o a defendant. Then the informant tells the cop that this guy will $ell it. And the cop goes up to the guy and says toThim, "You got any smack? '-. And the guy says, ' Yeah," and sells it to the cop, and : they bust him. That's good, because the guy had a predisposition to sell. How about that? That's where our Supreme Court's going, my friend. ■ : ,-;, fe ,, > s fl ^ : i -¡-; F . ,; ■":.':• . HIGH TIMES: How me the dope cases lost, though? is there any good excuse for a good dope lawyer losing his cas¿? :-v..

v-eVi ■ Jim'í viyi',.1 i stepasian: Well,remember .<nt thing,lei metdlyou ' something right now, just for a giggle. You hav. to learn what winning is, you. know. Ihad a client the other day. a two-pound cuke case, judge gives him two years. He looks over at me. and says, "Thanks. ;;^ife.í:you::reiaj!yr onev^jíut J feel good (

because his buddies are in for sew n for "a nickel,"

Sift what's winning? ffífgét a wi'tfc a thousand pounds uf marijuana, and hu ends up getting a split sentence, áix months, is ihét k/síng? Is that winning? ; What raak^ago«si'!lawytr?jUltimately, it's his won!

When the ¡udgelookV down at me an¡! sees me with 5: my little baby on my?, left here, he's making a judgment, he's saying "Can I believe this client? Can / 1 believe this situation?" ¿ % ■%

Unce the communication breaks dpwo between a ' lawyer and a client and tht, kid vets scared, he's vulnerable. Wilh nje. when We're losing, at least the guy knows that tried: He's road the brief. He knows the caaos. He knows Mike's trying. One.: the ■ rapport is broken, the defendant is isolated. That's when they can get him.

Thai same year, 1911, the New York Times declared: "ft, is the unanimous opinion of every slate and municipal [law enforcement] organization ... thai the misuse of cocaine is a direct incentive to crime; that it is perhaps of all-factors a singular one in augmenting Ihe criminal ranks." Or, as llie Times had written three years eaijier, "The dull. white crystals ... contain the most insidious effects known to man." None of these statements, nor hundreds of similar ones, were supported by ihe available evidence. Indeed what was then known about cocaine, as what has since been learned, contradicted them. Yel 46 slates passed laws regulating the use of cocaine prior to iis federal outlawing under ihe Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914.

' 1» the federal courts, one map can testify against everybody else and they don't need dope, contraband or anything; ai| they need is fhn testimony of , one co-conspirator against the others to get a conviction. Their theory is: arresla bunchof peopl e . find out who the.'weak lawyers are. who the vve.ak link is,, ■ put tremendous pressure on this person and have

■ tfttftiiif ^iftiiiwet AifAPY/iirt^tr aleA Di-AYmoii- kirfi f ; But basically in my book I keep saying over and over! :■' as 1 say now: " Do not consent to search Do hot make . -any statements. Consult the'lawyer. Do not run away. Do not make up stories, alibis, excuses. iDori t be an Informer, and don't be afraid. £>o not consent—you h&vo a right lo rcmain/ffee from ; unreasonable' ; searches and seizures. And-/if he« gonna* arri^t yoji, don't resist arrest. Get bailed out and then work jt out later. Call a. good lawyer. Talk to him, ask him -, questions^ make him read you the law. make him li show yon his brief, probe, don't be afraid to ask« tot of questions. There's ; ; no mystical thing about a •.

Steve.Long T*nie>s Sept: 1976

Criminal dope fiends ran rampant through the American tabloids from the early years of this century but none of them smoked marijuana until the 1930s. What finally put grass on Ihe front pages and aroused grave national concern over the killer weed was its popularity in stales west of the Mississippi, into which there had been a steady influx of Mexicans beginning wilh the First World War, and the ensuing shortage of agricultural labor. The fact that Mexicans smoked weed was in itself, enough to foster prohibitory actions, if only oil llie principle that it never hulls to have a law on ihe books wilh which to clout the minorities when they step out of line. So most of the western and southwestern stales had passed anlimarijuana legislation by the 1930s, but in so casual a manner that the local newspapers rarely took notice of llie fact.. Not until, , llial is, llie Greal Depression, which followed ihe stock market crash of 1929. Then, like the Chinese before them, the Mexicans were pitted against the whiles for1 the few jobs still available. Labor didn't want to compete with them, and ihe cities didn't want the cost of putting ihem on the welfare rolls. Voluntarily, or by force over 200,000 were returned to Mexico between 1931 and 1932. Drug busts were merely one of the pretexts used to deport_ them, but fear of glass and the degenerate, violent nature- of its users made hostility toward Mexicans respectable.

The terrible consequences attending the lise of glass quickly became known to everyone who didn't smoke iu Alarmed police officials rushed out bulletins pinpointing marijuana as the source

of current "crime waves." Their statements were prepared in haste and read as if they had simply dusted off their cocaine files and substituted the word "marijuana" for "cocaine" and "Mexican" for "Negro."

Like opium and cocaine, marijuana was outlawed without the benefit- of any empirical evidence against it. Congressional testimony consisted chiefly of "expert" witnesses reading from tabloid horror stories. Dr. William Woodaid, the single witness whose testimony rebutted the sensationalist hearsay, was not made welcome» "If you want to advise us on legislation," warned the subcommittee chairman, "you ought to come here with some constructive proposals, rather than criticism, rather than trying to throw obstacles in the way of something that the federal government is trying to do." And the government did do it, passing the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

"The drug prod uces several other conditions that make the "fiend" a peculiarly dangerous criminal. . One of these conditions is a temporary immunity to shock-a resistance to the 'knock down' effects of fatal wounds. Bullets fired into vital parts, that would drop a sane man in his track, fail to check the 'fiend1-fail to stop his rush or weaken his attack."

Ed wa rd H unt ington W illi;-, m s '"Negro Cocaine 'Fiends" Are a New Southern Menace,"

The outlawing of LSD followed the traditional pattern except that this time the dreaded dope fiends were not foreign devils or ex slaves but the kids next door. As usual, the press and politicians created a fantasy that scared hell out of middle America. Encouraged by the satanie Professor Timothy Leary, the story went, nice kids took this mind-warping stuff and went bonkers,

Pot bust in hie Thirds

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