Trying to explain to his impressionable pre-teen daughter that the arrest was “no big deal” was made easy when the affable Cusick compared the situation to one she’d easily understand – only not on such a grand scale.
“I said, ‘you were in a school play last week about (black civil rights crusader) Rosa Parks.’ She said, ‘I played the white woman who didn’t get the seat.’ I said, ‘That’s right. What happened to Rosa Parks five minutes after she didn’t give up her seat?’ She said, ‘She was arrested because it was against the law (for blacks to sit amongst whites).’ I told her I’m trying to change another law. Rosa Parks went for freedom and that changed everything. I’m not trying to say this is as important as Rosa Parks, but this is a small slice of the pie.” Cusick goes on to say, “It has to do with my friends and I’m very proud of representing marijuana law reform.”
Fortuitously, Harvard Law School stepped up and offered free legal help in the form of Charles Nesson – ‘Billion Dollar Charlie!’
“He attracted a lot of attention,” Cusick admits. “Basically, we’ve went to court five times in Boston and pushed them all the way to the wall. We wouldn’t take a dismissal. We made them sit in jury for one-third of a joint- took it all the way to the mat. The jury, on May 12, 2008, recessed at 4 PM, and it took them twenty minutes to deliberate, and ironically, at 4:20 (the international time zone to blaze up) came back and pronounced us guilty. They asked the prosecutor what would be adequate punishment for a third of a joint. He was annoyed by this and said a suspended six month sentence, six month probation, fifty hours community service cleaning Boston Commons, $500 fine, and not being allowed back in the Commons for six months which should, I quote, ‘stop them from giving any more speeches.’ Our Harvard lawyer got up, said not only is that unconstitutional, it’s odious. The judge said, ‘noted,’ asked our lawyer what punishment should be. Charles said, ‘Given the professional nature of this case, a $500 fine.’ The judge said he didn’t even have to think about it for more than thirty seconds.”
The judge had Cusick and Stroud stand up and sentenced them to one-day imprisonment limited to the time served in Boston police custody on September 15th. But because Nesson offered stacks of evidence the court didn’t already go through and for “a number of other reasons,” Cusick and Stroud, under the directorial approval of Nesson, appealed the case the following day.
Cusick concludes, “It’s been filed and if the prosecutor appeals the sentence, it gets kicked to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. It’s the best professional experience I’ve ever had. I got to befriend Professor Nesson and Lester Grinspoon, who is a legend in my industry. Lester also worked feverishly on the case, donating money to our defense fund and putting in a fifty-page affidavit on our behalf. He’d always been a hero of mine.”
As an afterthought, Cusick informs me that the film, A Civil Action, based on John Travolta’s character, involves a down and out attorney losing everything and writing to another lawyer to see if he could handle his case. That other lawyer was Charles Nesson, ‘Billion Dollar Charlie,’ who received the first billion-dollar civil law judgment. He now serves as legal counsel for Cusick and Stroud against frivolous lawmakers’ antiquated marijuana prohibition.
Let’s wish ‘em well on their journey to Supreme Court justification. All hail the almighty herbal powers of the magical mystical weed. After all, isn’t America’s Declaration Of Independence written on hemp paper anyhow?
This and John Fortunato’s many articles on music can be found at beermelodies.com.