Yesterday was my first real day back in Oakland from Burning Man (since I spent all day Tuesday unpacking and cleaning playa dust off everything I brought). Unfortunately, I had to wake up and put on a suit and go to work. I don’t normally wear a suit to work, but I was headed for the sentencing hearing of my good friend and colleague Michael Martin.
As I discussed a year ago, the DEA had raided Mickey’s facility where he had produced medical cannabis edibles for California patients. Mickey was charged with several federal counts that could have lead him to be imprisoned for 10-20 years. Thinking about his family, he decided not to go to trial and to accept a plea bargain so he’d miss fewer years of his children’s lives sitting in prison.
But even one year in prison away from his children was more than he deserved, and I expected the worst going down to the Oakland federal courthouse yesterday afternoon.
The hearing was long and emotional. Supporters packed literally every seat in the courtroom and we waited, as Judge Claudia Wilkin discussed the conflict between state and federal law with the prosecutor, the defense attorneys, and Mickey’s probation officer. Then, Mickey spoke directly to the judge about his ordeal and explained that he was only doing what he did to help ailing patients who needed the medicine he produced.
My jarring reentry into Oakland was softened when I heard the judge announce that Mickey would serve no time in prison. Instead, he was sentenced to a year in a half way house, a year of home confinement, and five years of probation. I was elated, and it seemed that everyone in the courtroom had tears in our eyes as we left the building and congratulated Mickey and the Martin family.
There’s plenty of bad news regarding justice to go around in Oakland, so I thought I’d share this happy piece of news. I know it helped me feel better about my return to this city.