Montana Supreme Court Cites “The Wire”, Notorious B.I.G., and N.W.A.

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by | June 1, 2017

Justice James Jeremiah Shea of the Supreme Court of Montana briefly overtook U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the race to make the coolest references in a published judicial opinion yesterday. (Justice Kagan’s spider-man reference can be found in the Kimble v. Marvel opinion here.) The case was State v. Glass and the issue was whether the defendant’s federal conviction for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine barred “a subsequent state prosecution for possession of dangerous drugs on double jeopardy grounds.”

In the case, Mr. Glass was charged by the state of Montana in June of 2014 for, among other things, criminal distribution of methamphetamine and criminal possession of methamphetamine. He pleaded not guilty to all of the state charges. A few months later, Mr. Glass found himself in Federal court facing charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. In federal court he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to distribute charge.

Later, when the state charges went to trial, Mr. Glass moved to dismiss the state’s charges arguing that the prosecution was barred by Montana’s double-jeopardy statute. The State responded that the basis for the state possession charge did not involve the same criminal objectives or conduct as the Federal charges. It seems that Mr. Glass had received sixteen ounces of methamphetamine; of that, he distributed fourteen ounces and used two himself. The Federal charge applied to the fourteen ounces. The state possession charge applied to the two ounces he used. (That was even though he had smoked all two ounces–there was residue of meth on a pipe that police found in Mr. Glass’s vehicle. The residue alone was enough to support a possession charge under Montana law.)

Justice Shea, writing for a unanimous court, agreed with the state of Montana. In his conclusion, he echoed sentiments from “The Wire”, Notorious B.I.G., and N.W.A:

‘Don’t get high on your own supply’ is a long-established rule in the drug trade specifically because such conduct is inconsistent with the criminal objective of distributing drugs for profit. To that rule we now add the legal caveat: ‘Don’t get high on your own supply, ’cause double jeopardy don’t apply.’

The entire opinion can be found here.