Publications allowed as evidence Silver Run woman on trial in drug case


Over the strenuous objections of defense attorneys, Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. yesterday allowed prosecutors to introduce pro-marijuana magazines, handbills and posters as evidence in the first day of Pamela Snowhite Davis' jury trial on drug distribution charges.

"I object, your honor, to this evidence on First and Fifth Amendment grounds," defense attorney Stephen P. Bourexis shouted as Judge Beck allowed an issue of "High Times" magazine into evidence.

The magazine and other pro-marijuana literature belonged to Ms. Davis' son and were seized from Ms. Davis' Silver Run farm, testimony showed.

The first day of the so-called "UPS Case" played out in an atmosphere of almost nonstop objections from Davis' attorneys and a two-person demonstration on the courthouse steps that was quickly stopped by Carroll County sheriff's deputies.

Ms. Davis, 48, an outspoken advocate of marijuana legalization, is on trial on a four-count indictment charging her with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a common nuisance. She faces a sentence of more than 30 years in jail if found guilty of all charges.

Since a Carroll County Narcotics Task Force raid May 7 at Terrapin Station, her Silver Run farm, Ms. Davis has sharply criticized the task force and has amassed a small but vocal following. Some of her supporters were in the courtroom yesterday.

Judge Beck, aware of the spectators, wasn't about to let his courtroom get out of control.

"I run a tight ship here, and I ask for decorum in the courtroom," he said before opening statements began. "Anyone who does not conduct themselves as ladies and gentlemen will be asked to leave."

By the time the third prosecution witness took the stand, two men in the back row were asked to leave by sheriff's deputies who saw them gesturing at each other.

After the men were escorted out of the courthouse, they went to a car, pulled out placards and began demonstrating on the courthouse steps.

Their placards -- bearing messages including "Just Say No to the Carroll County Task Force" and "Carroll County is a police state" -- were seized by deputies who ordered them to leave courthouse property.

The deputies would not comment on why they stopped the demonstration or why they seized the placards. Carroll Sheriff John H. Brown could not be reached yesterday for comment on the deputies' actions.

Judge Beck did not return a phone call seeking comment late yesterday afternoon.

Testimony in the much-anticipated Davis trial -- postponed twice since its original Sept. 23 date -- has so far focused on the items seized by task force officers at Terrapin Station on May 7.

Acting on a tip from an Orange County, Calif., sheriff's deputy, the task force learned that a United Parcel Service package addressed to the farm contained about 1.5 ounces of marijuana. Carroll Sheriff's Deputy Earl Isennock -- who testified yesterday -- dressed as a UPS employee and delivered the package to the farm. After a woman signed for it, task force officers raided the place.

Officers never recovered more than a leaf or two from the package -- Ms. Davis' son, David Kif Davis, had run to the roof and eaten most of its contents. He pleaded guilty to a marijuana possession count earlier this year.

The raiders also found less than 1 ounce of marijuana in a bedside stand.

Most of the items seized in the raid belonged to David Davis, witnesses testified yesterday. But all of it -- including the literature -- was entered as evidence.

Ordinarily, publications are not introduced as evidence, as it is not illegal to possess literature, Mr. Bourexis said after court adjourned yesterday. He declined to speculate why Judge Beck allowed it as evidence.

He said Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III argued during a bench conference that the literature paints a total picture of what was happening at Ms. Davis' farm. Mr. Walker declined to discuss the case with reporters yesterday.

Tfc. Donald Grimes, the task force officer who supervised the May 7 raid, testified that the sprawling, 21-room farmhouse was the scene of a round-the-clock pot party.

The house "would be what I would consider to be a party place, where people come over and smoke marijuana," the trooper said.

The case is expected to go to the nine-man, three-woman jury today.

Ms. Davis faces another trial stemming from a Nov. 23 raid of Liberation, her counterculture store in Westminster. After task force officers found several pounds of marijuana seeds in that raid, they obtained another four-count drug possession and distribution indictment against her. She was arrested, and spent a night in the county jail. She was to go to trial on the UPS case the day following the second raid.

The trial in the store case is scheduled for May.

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