The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober. He gets the award for the following.
TAMPA -- The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office has decided not to drop charges against Mark O'Hara, who was freed from prison after an appeals court said he deserved a new trial.It is absurd and ridiculous O'Hara ever went to jail in the first place, what the local prosecutor now is taking stupidity to new heights.
O'Hara's lawyer, Ira Berman, angrily stormed out of the courthouse after a brief 8:30 a.m. hearing before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta.
"It's quite a shame," Berman said. "Quite a pitiful shame. End of story. End of statement."
O'Hara, 45, dressed in a white-button down shirt and a pink tie, said he could not comment on the case.
A group of residents calling themselves "We the People Florida" walked out of court after O'Hara's hearing. The group's leader, Bill Trudelle, said they wanted to send a message to Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober.
"We're just letting the courts know that there will be people watching this time around," said Trudelle, 41.
A status conference in the case is set for Sept. 18. Ficarrotta said a trial date would be set at the hearing.
Tampa Airport Police arrested O'Hara in 2004 after they found 58 Vicodin pills and a small amount of marijuana in his illegally parked and unattended bread truck. He refused plea agreements before trial that would have given him one to three years in prison. Instead, jurors heard from two doctors who said they had been treating O'Hara since 1990 for pain relating to car accidents and gout.
However, jurors were not told that it is legal to possess Vicodin with a prescription, which O'Hara had. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking.
Using words like "absurd" and "ridiculous", a three-judge appeals court overturned the conviction in July and ordered a new trial.
Steve Verdon at OTB wrote about the O'Hara case a few weeks ago saying-
Mark O'Hara as the law presently stands, may have deserved time in jail for marijuana possession(I support legalization of this drug. However at present laws in the US consider possession of marijuana a crime.) but trying someone and then having them sentenced to 25 years in prison for having a prescribed drug is a clear case of prosecutorial abuse and a travesty of justice. The case against Mr. O'Hara should be dropped, and for not doing so I name Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober today's Knucklehead of the Day.
Ahhh there we go, refused plea agreements. Apparently that seems to be the tactic of prosecutors these days: offer a plea deal, if it is refused go for the maximum and pile on as many charges as possible. It is really kind of smarmy, and one reason why I think so lowly of prosecutors, since it is a strong arm tactic to coerce citizens not to exercise their right to a jury trial.
Seems to me that every elderly person in Florida is a drug trafficker. The fact that 99.9% probably have a prescription is irrelevant to Florida prosecutors and so they should all be rounded up and sent to prison for 25 years.
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