CONTENT WARNING: This article contains information about humanity, compassion and common sense. This is a story about a young, disabled veteran who fell victim to a bully cop, and Dickinson County's version of injustice. Those who find those terms objectionable should stop reading here!
EDITOR'S NOTE: To the "powers that be." Do not attempt to hold Justin responsible for what I have written here, or retaliate against him in any way. I was contacted by several people regarding his situation. I requested the meeting with him. I am solely responsible for what is written here. Justin had no role in the preparation of this material, and no editorial control over the content. There are no "facts" stated in this article that I have not personally verified by viewing the documents in question. While you may question my conclusions, do not attempt to question the facts.
UPDATE: This matter has now been fully adjudicated. Mr. Graham was indeed punished by the court for his courage in standing up for his rights. He is no longer under any type of court sanction.
Otto Warmbier was an American college student who died as the result of being held in a North Korean prison and denied medical treatment. Most Americans were outraged at the treatment, or lack of treatment, that Warmbier received at the hands of the North Koreans, finally resulting in his death. Sadly, we have a similar situation currently happening in Dickinson County, thanks to two judges who believe that they know more than the doctors do, and combined, would likely have a heart smaller than an amoeba.
Justin Graham, whom we shall tell you much more about in this article, is a disabled American veteran, suffering from multiple sclerosis and PTSD; both diagnosis confirmed by a cadre of Veteran's Administration physicians.
While it is Judge Julie LaCost who will ultimately do the dirty work, both she and Judge Christopher Ninomiya have been co-conspirators in this travesty of justice.
Somehow, some way, for some inexplicable reason, Judge LaCost has taken it upon herself to overrule the physicians. She has apparently decided that she knows more about multiple sclerosis and PTSD than the V.A. doctors, or the two doctors that wrote Justin Graham prescriptions for medical marijuana.
Somehow she seems to have adopted the warped attitude that the best way to treat these diseases is to lock the patient up. (Hmmm, wonder if that would work for diabetes or cancer?)
Nowhere has it ever been suggested by anyone with more than one firing cerebral neuron, that jail is an appropriate treatment for multiple sclerosis or PTSD. If Justin were a prisoner of war, these judges would be guilty of violating the Geneva Conventions. All of this over a non-working tail light, and a cop who couldn't resist being a bully.
But this is not a story about marijuana. This is a story about humanity, compassion and common sense. Should Judge LaCost proceed, as expected, to sentence Justin to a lengthy jail sentence, the outcome could be very similar to the Otto Warmbier case. Thanks to these two judges, neither of whom has earned the title "honorable" in my opinion, Justin has already been almost totally without the cannabis that he needs to control his condition for seven months. On one occasion, while on bond, Justin did use cannabis, out of desperation to control his symptoms. He was tested, got caught, and is now facing possible additional jail time, for using a substance that the voters of the State of Michigan have deemed to be perfectly legal. Every day that Justin is without the only medication that has helped him, cannabis, his condition will continue to deteriorate, both physically and mentally. I wonder if Dickinson County's voters will feel as outraged if Justin is wheeled from the jail in a wheelchair, as they felt when Otto Warmbier was. Sadly, I seriously doubt it.
And please don't come up with this horse-crap about "well, he broke the law." Otto Warmbier broke North Korean law, and yet no compassionate human being can justify what was done to him. The same standard applies in this case. Sometimes, it's the law that's at fault. Just because it's an American, or a Michigan law, does not make it right.
Justin Graham is a young man who wanted to serve his Country, so he enlisted in the military. Justin served four years in the United States Air Force. But sadly, this isn't a story about his military career. Any hopes that Justin may have had in that regard were dashed, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Following that diagnosis, Justin was honorably discharged from the military for medical reasons.
After examinations by Veterans' Administration doctors, Justin was found to be suffering from major depressive disorder, stemming from service-related PTSD, in addition to the earlier diagnosed multiple sclerosis. Following more extensive examinations and evaluations, Justin was granted a 100% disability, on the basis that his disorders would make it highly unlikely that he could gain or hold meaningful employment.
As though his physical and emotional problems were not enough to deal with, Justin has now become a victim of what passes for a criminal justice system in Dickinson County. But we'll have more on that later.
When we first heard about Justin's case, we requested a meeting so that we could form our own opinion, as well as review the paperwork which we asked him to bring with him. We met at "B's" Cafe for a cup of coffee. I had never met Justin prior to this meeting, so had no idea what to expect. I found Justin to be a clean-cut, intelligent, responsive, very polite and courteous individual. It was only after this evaluation that I decided to proceed with this article. We applaud Justin for having the courage to tell his story publicly. Justin readily admitted in speaking with us that he didn't expect any of this to help him in any way. His sole purpose is to try to keep this same thing from happening to others who may make the mistake of visiting Dickinson County. All he wants to do is get this over with so that he can return to civilization, in Colorado.
To me, one of the most revealing character traits that I saw in Justin is that in spite of all that he has been through, and all that he is facing, he is just as concerned about what is going to happen to his "best buddy" Bernie, while he's locked up, as he is about himself. Justin said that the longest the two have ever been apart is the night that he was incarcerated, all over a defective tail light. He said that it makes him physically ill to think that he won't see Bernie for many weeks, perhaps months.
After his discharge from the military, Justin's condition continued to degrade, with little help from the VA, other than writing prescriptions for one drug after another. At one time he was taking 15 different prescribed medications.
In 2017, desperate for relief, Justin sought and was able to receive the help he needed to regain a fairly normal life style from a treatment center in Colorado.
Rather than try to describe what transpired next, we have included a letter from that treatment center.
Now remember, there had been no
suggestion that Justin had been driving erratically or irresponsibly. In fact,
when field tested for alcohol, at his request, Justin "blew" a .04
reading, half the legal limit for intoxication. But this wasn't about to deter
gung-ho Deputy Wyle. The fact that he had suddenly come to the totally unwarranted
conclusion that he had been lied to, apparently caused Deputy Wyle to decide to put
Justin "through the wringer."
I don't want to hear any of the normal B.S. about "Well, he did test positive for THC in his system." National surveys have shown that one out of five Americans uses cannabis on a fairly regular basis. My guess is that number would be much higher, if the ever watchful government did not make people fearful of answering honestly. That means that at least one out of every five drivers would, at almost any time, show THC in their system.
Recent testing, including some done by the State of Michigan and made public in a report by the Governor, has shown conclusively that in an experienced user, marijuana has little if any effects on physical dexterity.
I will conclude this first part of this story with this: I have no idea who this Deputy Wyle is. Further, I certainly have no desire to know who he is. Suffice it to say that Dickinson County must be almost completely devoid of serious crime, if this Deputy is this hard up for a "bust."
This cop had probable cause to stop Justin because of a defective tail light.
Nothing that occurred gave him probable cause to destroy Justin's life.
(Try as we might, we could find
nothing in LaCost's biography to indicate that she ever set foot in a medical
school, let alone obtained a medical degree.)
There is certainly plenty of blame to go around here. The prosecutor's and the courts did what they always do. They went for the jugular.
But this whole thing should have never gotten to this stage. The whole thing should have stopped with a warning ticket for a defective tail light, if even that was in order; since the tail light could have easily been repaired on the spot.
The bulk of the blame for what has happened to Justin has to be clearly placed on the shoulders of the one individual who had the power to see to it that this didn't happen: Deputy John Wyle.
Instead of performing like a compassionate human being with a bit of common sense, this cop, apparently too hungry for an arrest to consider anything else, has put this young man through seven months of hell.
There is absolutely nothing to justify what he started.
Justin presented no danger to himself or anyone else, and if there was a misunderstanding about his medical marijuana, card, that sure as hell did not merit this. This is the type of cop that will not only perpetuate, but accelerate Dickinson County's downward spiral. It's a shame that bullies like this are permitted to wear badges. What ever happened to the days when County Sheriff's deputies were known as "peace officers?"
Every resident of Dickinson County should be profoundly ashamed that this is being done in their names. We have heard of many travesties of justice; but this is the first that we have chosen to write about because it is the first that we have been able to document. Dickinson County voters should know that this type of thing reportedly goes on in Dickinson County all the time.
In Justin's case, he is terrified that he could end up leaving the Dickinson
County Jail in a wheelchair, or worse. The mental anguish that this man is
being put through amounts to torture.
It would certainly be nice if people like Justin were able to stay in Dickinson County and receive the type of humane treatment they deserve, without being bullied by cops. And while things may change at some point, Justin sees no future for himself in Dickinson County, a sentiment expressed by far too many young people. His current plans are for him to return to Colorado, as soon as conditions permit.
In the final analysis, it appears that the only thing Justin really did wrong, as have so many others, is show up in the wrong place (Dickinson County), at the wrong time (anytime).
This is not about the law. This zero tolerance, by the book, letter of the law, hyperactive law enforcement B.S. that prevails in Dickinson County is draining this community of its lifeblood. This is about common sense, humanity, and compassion for your fellow human beings. Until we bring those traits back, there is little hope for the future.
Let's make it perfectly clear for those who have not yet realized, that all of the "crimes" that Justin supposedly committed, and is about to be sentenced for, involve cannabis. This is a substance which, by will of the voters, is now absolutely legal in Michigan. However, those who refuse to accept the will of the voters will try to the last minute to enforce their bigoted, ignorant beliefs.
If any of these local officials had any respect for the will of the voters, any common sense, or sense of compassion or humanity, they would no longer be proceeding with any marijuana related charges against anyone, and certainly not for so miniscule an "infraction" as this.
Justin will appear before District Judge LaCost at 9:30 on Thursday morning, April 25th. The decent thing for the judge to do at this point would be to apologize to Justin for what he has been put through, and let him go on his way. However, she is expected instead to hand down a lengthy jail sentence, in addition to fines and costs of nearly $1,600, which it will be very difficult for Justin to pay, likely extending his probationary period. During this entire period he will almost certainly be ordered to refrain from the use of perfectly legal cannabis, which is the only thing to date that has brought relief for his multiple sclerosis symptoms. All of this, if things go as expected, is going to have an absolutely devastating effect on this young veteran's life, both physically and emotionally. Nothing justifies this. We hope, perhaps beyond hope, that Judge LaCost will have a change of heart, do the right thing, and end this torment on the 25th, perhaps giving a little less credence to the saying:
"Dickinson County - Arrive on vacation - Leave on probation!"
I am sure there are those of you out there who think that all of this is perfectly OK.
PLEASE LOG OUT - GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!
Frankly, you're not the type of person that we want logging into our sites. You're not just part of the problem; you are the problem.
Perhaps Kim Jong-Un has a website that would be better suited to your way of thinking.
Editorial Commentary by DCNews Online Editor, Dave Lee