Robin Brown Was Stripped, Subjected To A Body Cavity Search, And Spent The Night In Jail
By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
A birdwatcher landed in a Florida jail on felony charges of marijuana possession after a clueless sheriff’s deputy mistook the sage she had in her backpack for pot.
Robin Brown, 49, of Hollywood, Florida, was arrested after Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Dominic Raimondi, 51, decided her sage was marijuana. Deputy Dumbass, I mean Raimondi, then searched her car and found more “pot,” which was also sage.
Tellingly, the dimwitted deputy’s notoriously unreliable field kit said the sage — bought at an airport gift shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico — tested positive for marijuana, reports Susannah Bryan at the Orlando Sentinel.
Raimondi didn’t arrest her on the spot on the day in March 2009, but he sent the 50 grams of “marijuana” to the crime lab for a more precise test.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Horn, apparently not one to let potheads go roaming free on the streets, ordered Brown’s arrest without even having the sage tested, according to court records.
Three months later, Deputy Dumbfuck, I mean Deputy Raimondi, showed up at Massage Envy in Weston, Florida, where Brown works, and took her away in handcuffs as her shocked customers coworkers looked on.
“They arrested me in front of my customers, my boss, my co-workers,” Brown said.
She was later subjected to a body cavity search, a separate strip search and an overnight stay in jail.
It was a month later when Brown’s Miami lawyer noticed the sage had never even been tested at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office crime lab.
“When I found out they didn’t do a lab test, I was outraged,” said her attorney, Bill Ullman. “I raised hell about that.”
On July 23, 2009, Ullman demanded that her sage be tested.
The lab test, of course, concluded that the dried sage is not marijuana, and is quite legal.
The criminal charges were dropped.
Ullman said one prosecutor called him to admit it was “scary” someone could be arrested and strip searched under such circumstances. The lady didn’t even have a pipe or bong on her, let alone marijuana.
“Our policy is to make sure the evidence is tested at the very least before trial,” claimed Ron Ishoy, spokesman for the Broward State Attorney’s Office. “Looking back now at this specific police report, it would have been the better practice to test the evidence before filing a formal charge,” said Captain Obvious, I mean spokesman Ishoy.
“Looking back”? Hey Ron, it sounds to me as if maybe this is something you should do BEFORE charging someone with a crime and strip searching them, not when “looking back.”
“Sage has a completely different smell to it,” commented “rufusisinthehouse,” one reader on the Sentinel’s site. “If you can’t identify sage from marijuana, then you need to see if you can rent a few brain cells because you don’t have much to operate it. Freaking sad that the cops didn’t do their job and figure this out.”
Field drug tests are notoriously unreliable and give false positives, according to John Kelly a forensic drug test expert in Washington, D.C.
Brown filed a civil lawsuit claiming public humiliation, mental pain and suffering. The suit accuses the Broward State Attorney’s Office of negligence and malicious prosecution.
“I’m not looking for revenge, and I’m not looking for money,” Brown said.
“I would like to see them stop using the bogus field tests and to improve their procedures at the county crime lab,” she said, reports John Kelly at SantaCruz.com. “I would like the public to be aware of the faulty field tests.”
Incompetent redneck Circuit Judge John Bowman dismissed the case in January, saying “prosecutors are given immunity” from lawsuits in the course of “doing their jobs.” Apparently the yokel judge believes strip-searching birdwatchers for sage possession is included in the deputies’ job description.
Judge Bowman’s a real piece of work himself. In January, he was accused of sexual abuse by his ex-foster son, Charles Harper, 18, reports Stefan Kamph of Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
Meanwhile, birdwatcher Brown is appealing to the 4th District Court of Appeals, hoping she’ll be granted the right to a jury trial.
“We just want a chance to go to trial and let a jury decide if the prosecution should have immunity,” she said. “We are appealing to a higher court so my case can be heard.”
Lawyer Ullman argues that, in this case, the prosecutor should not have immunity.
“They said if we allow people to sue prosecutors for mistakes they would be afraid to do their jobs,” Ullman said. “In this case, the prosecutor should be sued because he filed a false statement swearing she had marijuana. And she didn’t.”
Brown was birdwatching that day in the woods near U.S. Highway 27.
As an avid birdwatcher, Brown brought her sage along for smudging, a purification ritual among Native American tribes and spiritual groups. Brown said she believes the smoke from the sage helps clear negative energy and also helps your prayers on their way to heaven.
Before going back to car, Brown burned the sage in a clay pot to give thanks for the wildlife she had seen that day.
“Smudging is a way for me to give thanks and express my gratitude,” she said. “That day, I was using it to carry my prayers to heaven.”
When Brown returned to her car, a Deputy Dumbass, I mean Deputy Raimondo, was waiting, along with an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The officers asked what she was doing there — clearly this dangerous birdwatcher needed correction.
Birdwatching, Brown told the grim officers. When they continued to interrogate her, she opened her backpack to show them her binoculars and bird book.
That’s when clueless deputy spotted her sage and the smudging bowl with burned ashes.
Three months later, she was handcuffed, strip searched, and thrown in jail.
“I tried to look tough, but inside I was quaking,” Brown said. “I didn’t know how long I would be there. All I knew was that something had gone terribly wrong. A few months had gone buy. I thought I was in the clear.”
After her fiance posted $1,000 bail, she was released at 4 a.m., in Pompano Beach.
Brown said she has learned her lesson. She leaves the sage at home these days.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.