Judge Jim Gray - Articles 3

DailyPilot - Saturday, September 20, 2008

Judges rule lawyers

They maintain lead over their friendly rivals to win second annual softball game between county judges and trial lawyers.
By Michael Miller

Updated: Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:58 PM PDT

Judge Jim Gray playing softball

NEWPORT BEACH — No fights broke out during Saturday’s softball game at Grant Howald Park, but if anyone had been injured with a beanball, it would have been easy to find a lawyer.
Saturday marked the second annual “Bench & Bar Softball Game” between the Orange County court judges and the Orange County Trial Lawyers Assn. at the park in Corona del Mar, as the lawyers tried to avenge their narrow 19-16 defeat the year before.
They didn’t succeed, as the judges drubbed them, 18-11, but both sides called it a friendly rivalry.
“Are we crushed? No,” said lawyer Melinda Bell, who runs a private practice in Irvine and kept official score. “We had a good time.”
The competition started last year when lawyer Alan Brown and Judge Dave McEachen jokingly challenged one another to a softball game.
It would be inaccurate, though, to say no one on either team was athletic; Judge Karen Robinson, the former mayor of Costa Mesa, ran track when she was a student at UCLA.
Saturday, Robinson used her speed to hustle out two infield singles and make an over-the-shoulder catch in right field.
Vincent Howard, a lawyer who runs a private practice in Anaheim, socked the game’s only home run — an inside-the-park wallop — but the judges held onto their early lead.
Robert Jameson, a retired judge, served as umpire. After the final out, the teams posed together for a photo on the diamond and had lunch provided by the Newport Rib Co.
Even though the judges won by an even bigger margin than last year, McEachen said he was impressed by the opposition.
“They’re about 15 years younger than we are, but they have some pretty good athletes,” he said. “They’re nice about it, though.”

Special Thanks to Lisa Cosenza - Daily Pilot

Clarifying terms for drug war's end

Houston Chronicle: www.houstonchroncile.com/metro
City & State Section A, Page 27
Pubdate: Friday, April 27, 2001
Author: Thom Marshall

Thom Marshall:

Words intended to mean one thing when leaving your mouth can mean something completely different upon entering the ear of another.

Saying what you mean in such a way that others will not misunderstand you is the great challenge in most any type of discussion, debate or negotiation. I wish I could remember who provided an illustration of this many years ago by pointing out that a fellow might intend to convey a romantic message meaning: "When I look at you time, time stands still." But if what the listener understands is, "Your face would stop a clock," there obviously was a major problem with word choice creating a definition gap between intention and understanding.

The word-choice topic came up in a dinner conversation Tuesday, when a California judge met with a handful of Texas people who share his interest in changing the nation's drug policy. Judge James Gray came to Houston to speak at a luncheon Thursday sponsored by the Drug Policy Forum of Texas. He is the author of a new book: Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About it.

Regulating isn't legalizing

Gray said he avoids choosing and using the word "legalize" in connection with drug-policy reforms. What he is working toward, he said, is regulation.

Gray first went public in 1992 as a critic of the nation's war on drugs because, he said, he had seen firsthand and up close how the drug laws have failed, how they waste tax dollars, increase crime and despair, and harm so many lives unnecessarily.

He said at that time that he predicted a major turnaround in drug policy - an end to the war on drugs - by the year 2000. He admits he was off on that guess, but based upon recent developments and the rapidly increasing support for policy change, he believes it could happen in another two or three years.

One of the folks at that Tuesday dinner said that when he used the word "legalize" when talking about drugs, he is proposing that they be treated like alcohol, which once also was illegal.

The problem with that, Gray explained, is that alcohol still is not legal in many instances. There are many places where buying it, selling it or consuming it are illegal for anyone. It is illegal for anyone underage to buy it or consume it. It is illegal to sell it without the licenses and permits. It is illegal to buy it without paying the taxes on it.

Many people hear " legalize" and they believe that to mean drugs would be readily available to everyone. Alcohol is readily available to everyone. Alcohol is regulated. And under potential policy changes favored by Gray and many others who want to see an end to the war, other drugs also would be regulated.

He does not claim that regulating drugs would make them impossible for kids to get. After all, teen-agers can get booze today, just as the judge and others of us middle-age folks could get it when we were teens.

But kids have to go to some effort to obtain alcohol, due to the way it is regulated. Illegal drugs are easier to get, Gray said. illegal drugs come looking for the kids, and there is a plentiful supply despite years of the best efforts of those fighting the costly but ineffective drug war.

Ill-defined words stall progress

So Gray said he is for changing laws o that the currently illegal drugs could be regulated.

In his book, he calls it a "major pitfall in the discussion of our current drug policy and alternative options" that terms are not carefully defined by those who use them.

"It is, regrettably, very common for one person not to know what another person is talking about, which naturally leads to a great deal of miscommunication and misunderstanding," he wrote. "If everyone would take care to define their terms, we would make a lot more progress."

He believes progress is inevitable.

"Our country will someday change to a materially different drug policy," he said, also predicting that "we will look back in astonishment that we allowed our former policy to persist for so long, much as we look back now at slavery."

Thom Marshall's e-mail address is thom.marshall@chron.com

El Paso Times

Judge has a new take on drug war

El Paso Times Borderland: www.elpasotimes.com
Pubdate: Sun, 29 April 2001
Author: Gary Scharrer
Metro Editor Dan Williams


The restricted sale of heroin, cocaine and cannabis 'would break the vicious cycle of violence' Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles

American judges are growing so uneasy about their country's drugs laws that they are to go public with their calls for change. The judge who will publish the names of his concerned colleagues is calling for the regulated sale of cocaine, heroin and cannabis as the only way to break the current international cycle of violence and imprisonment.

The move comes as an advertising campaign is launched advising jurors to acquit people on drugs possession charges even when they are guilty and as a citizen's commission publishes a report calling for drugs to be treated as a medical and social rather than a criminal problem. It also coincides with this week's report on the enormous disparity between the numbers of black and white people jailed for drug offences.

James P Gray, a superior court judge in Orange County, California told the Guardian yesterday that his new book will contain the names of more than 20 judges who favour a change in the policies, some of whom support his call for legalisation, and are happy to say so publicly. He said that three times that number of judges had given him permission to quote them by name. Many others had told him privately of their belief that a radical change to the drugs laws was urgently needed.

Judge Gray, 55, has been on the bench for 16 years and was previously a prosecuting attorney. His experience on the bench convinced him that the drugs laws were causing more crime than they were stopping and that the "war on drugs" had been a failure.

"There is an increasing number of judges who want change," said Judge Gray, the author of the soon-to-be-published Why our Drugs Laws have failed and What we can do about it. "The momentum is truly building, we're making progress and it is no longer a question of if there will be changes, but when."

Judge Gray, who is due to outline his views at a meeting in Los Angeles later this month, is critical of the United States' drugs tsar, General Barry McCaffrey, whose budget has just been increased from $17.8bn a year to $19.2bn (UKP13bn). He suggests that asking Gen McCaffrey whether the right policy is being pursued is "like asking a barber if one needs a haircut".

The changes that Judge Gray would like to see include the regulated sale to adults of heroin, cocaine and cannabis. No advertising should be allowed, said the judge, so that drugs could be "de-profitised". He also favours needle-exchange programmes. He believes that the likeliest route for change would be for individual states to be allowed to decide on what drugs policy suits them best.

"First of all, we have to legitimise the discussion," he said. He stressed that talking about change did not mean that he or fellow judges condoned the use of drugs, merely that the existing laws were causing more harm than good.

His move comes as the organisation Common Sense for Drug Policy (CSDP) has been placing advertisements in magazines headlined "Just Say Not Guilty".

The ad argues that "the jury right to say 'not guilty' is an essential safeguard against injustice. [This] dates back to English common law and the founding of the United States."

Doug McVay of the Virginia-based CSDP said yesterday that the aim of the advertising campaign was to remind people that "justice is not simply the application of the law. The current situation violates common sense". He said that the FBI made 1,559,000 arrests for drug violations in 1998, 78% of them for possession and the campaign wanted to "plant the seed" in the minds of potential jurors that they could acquit people if they be lieved that the punishment did not fit the crime.

The United States is now building a new prison every week to cope with the people serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession. The prison population in the US has risen from just under 200,000 in 1966 to 2m today accounting for a quarter of the entire world's prison population.

A further call for change has come from the influential Institute for Policy Studies in Washington which has published the findings of a citizen's commission on drugs policy entitled The War on Drugs: Addicted to Failure. In the foreword to the report, Professor Craig Reinarman states: "Drugs are richly functional scapegoats. They provide the public with a restricted aperture of attribution in which only the chemical bogey man or lone deviant come into view and the social causes of a cornucopia of complex problems are out of the picture."

The chairperson of the commission, actor, singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, said: "Having grown up in Harlem during the Great Depression, I knew that the real roots of drug abuse and addiction had more to do with poverty, alienation and despair than crimes of malice."

He pointed out that in California five African-Americans were in jail for every one in a state university. The commission has called Gen McCaffrey's "war on drugs" a "monumental failure" and recommends the ending of mandatory minimum sentences for drug cases. It calls on President Clinton to revise the drug laws.

Belafonte's point was emphasised by this week's publication of a report by Human Rights Watch saying that 482 out of every 100,000 African-American men are in prison for a drug crime compared with 36 out of every 100,000 white men. In Illinois, a black man is 57 times more likely to be jailed for drugs than a white man.

The figures were described as a "national scandal" by the organisation, whose report was funded by George Soros's Open Society Institute.

Orange County Lawyer

Pubdate: May , 2001 Vol.43 No.5
Source: Orange County Lawyer
The Orange County Bar Association

Author: Hon. James P. Gray

"To Write a Book" I never in my life thought that I would write a book. But it happened.

Judge Jim Gray

I never in my life thought that I would write a book. But it happened. It began more than twenty years ago when I started clipping news articles about our nation’s drug policy out of magazines and newspapers. Just clip them out, underline a few points, make a few notes, and put them in a drawer. Then as time went on, I started jotting down a few thoughts about the problems we were actually inflicting upon ourselves by our policy, and other thoughts about what possible alternative policies might look like.

Momentum built up over the years, until on April 8, 1992, I held a press conference behind the Santa Ana Courthouse and publicly stated my conclusions based upon my experience as a judge of the superior court, a federal prosecutor, and a criminal defense attorney in Navy JAG, that our drug policy had failed, and that there had to be a better way. That led to quite a few interviews, community forums and discussions. And all the while, I kept reading, listening and learning.

When I was an undergraduate student at UCLA in the middle 1960s, I took a class in public speaking. And, candidly, I was terrible. In fact, I continually proved what poor preparation and a presentation of topics about which I cared little or nothing could do to a speech. However, for my final exam, I chose to speak about a topic that I really did care about: racial discrimination, and I spent my time and energy trying to convince my listeners about the importance of doing away with this malady. And that, I found, was the secret: caring about the issue and trying to convince other people that they should care as well. It worked at school, and it later worked when I was representing clients at trial. In effect, I learned that if you believe in what you are doing, it shows.

The same thing has been true with regard to the drug policy issue. Since, based upon my own observations and readings, I came to believe so strongly that we are inflicting vast amounts of unnecessary harm upon ourselves and millions of others all around the world as a direct result of our drug policy, my talks on the subject have been generally well received. And, although I have never particularly enjoyed writing, and have never considered myself to be particularly proficient at it, the articles I have submitted on the subject have generally also been well received.

But, since the subject is so multifaceted, my oral and written presentations were really only able to discuss a very small number of the problems and alternatives. I found out quickly that, although it is easy to demagog on the other side of this issue by loudly stating that we should "protect our children" by sending these evil drug sellers to prison for ever-longer periods of time, it is hard in a short time cogently to discuss viable alternatives. In fact, on several occasions I have been given a three-hour block of time at forums sponsored by the American Bar Association for appellate justices from all over the nation, and I have never been able to cover even half of the subjects that cried out to be discussed. So you can imagine my frustration at trying to nail down these points in a 30-minute radio "debate," with its constant interruptions and attempts to sensationalize. As a result and out of frustration, I started writing a book in order to set forth these many diverse issues in a more organized and comprehensive manner.

As it evolved, after an introduction, I organized the first part of the book, under the title "Our Drug Laws Have Failed," to set forth a history of how we originally passed our laws of Drug Prohibition. Disturbingly and embarrassingly enough, this had virtually nothing to do with issues of health or safety, but instead was almost completely based upon racism and empire-building. Then the chapter documents numbers of unnecessary harms we have inflicted upon ourselves as a result of that policy: the incarceration of ridiculously large numbers of people for non-violent drug offenses, our communities being awash in illicit drugs, increased violence and corruption, increased taxes, an erosion of our Bill of Rights protections unmatched by any other force in our nation’s history, demonization of drug users, a greater outflow of money from our shores than any other cause except the importation of oil, and the deterioration of the health of our people.

But what people have not focussed upon, however, is that we have viable options between the extremes of drug "legalization," on the one hand, and "zero tolerance," on the other. Those options, as discussed in the second part of the book, include various forms of drug rehabilitation, medicalization, and deprofitization, such as the decriminalization or strictly regulated distribution of drugs. Specific examples are given and documented from other countries where these options are being used successfully. The third part of the book gives specific proposals about what we can do to facilitate a change in our drug policy, and the appendix sets forth numbers of government commission reports and other public inquiries in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, which have universally recommended that we change away from our present policy. (For more information about these studies, see www.druglibrary.org/schaffer

Since I knew that the book would have a great deal more impact if it contained the thoughts of scores of judges instead of just one, I gathered several articles written by or about other judges who had already made comments about our failed War on Drugs. In addition, I contacted U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet of the Central District of New York, and asked him if he would forward to me the comments he had received in response to a mailing he had made of drug policy reform articles to numbers of judges around the country. He graciously did so, and I sent a letter to each one of them requesting their permission to quote their comments in the book. A large number not only responded favorably, but they provided additional quotes for me to use as well. As a result, I was able to compile and include statements of views and experiences from more than 40 judges nationwide.

Unfortunately, after putting pen to paper for so many months, I discovered that my approach to the job of getting a book published was all backwards. Every agent and publisher recommends that an author write out and submit a short description of the book, as well as a two or three paragraph description of each chapter. They also want to know how this book is important, and different than every other book on the subject. Instead, I had littered my living room with stacks of news articles, which were organized into subchapters, and had started to write. Nights, weekends, most holidays, for months. So I was two-thirds finished with a first draft of the book before I even attempted to find a publisher, and no one wanted to read any part of it.

Finding a publisher was tough. I had no experience, and no information. But I wrote out the required summary, and with continual questioning (pestering?) of my friends for leads, and following up on anything that held promise, I sent out lots of summaries.

All of these efforts produced a large volume of rejection slips. But eventually they also produced a few nibbles. And through all of this, I simply kept writing. By this time, I had such an investment of time and energy in the project, I decided that, if all else failed, I would "self-publish" the book, i.e., I would pay for it to be published myself. But finally, Temple University Press in Philadelphia started working with me, and in June of 2000, we signed a contract for them to publish my book.

And then the real work started. Never-ending numbers of reviews and rewrites. Talk about a jealous mistress, just like with an attorney preparing for trial, the rewriting, editing, verifying and updating of footnotes and otherwise improving a book of this kind are never done. Further, I was also called upon to supply information and suggestions for publicity for the book, lists of people who would review or otherwise publicize it, and lists of people and organizations that might be interested in buying it. Fortunately, the number of people and organizations who advocate changing our nation’s drug policy is expanding, so I was able to satisfy the requests by Temple’s marketing department.

Finally, I had to prepare an index, find some reputable people who would provide a cover endorsement for a book written by this unknown author, and settle upon a title and a cover design. For awhile, the working title had been "Just Say Know – A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs," but that was eventually rejected as being too cute. With regard to the cover design, the consultant’s first submission showed what looked like cigarette smoke coming up through the title of the book. They said that it was symbolic of the War on Drugs going up in smoke. But the very last thing I wanted to convey in my book was that it was "no big deal" to smoke marijuana, and that might be the inference some people might draw from seeing the proposed cover. So the consultant was sent back to the drawing board.

The last part of this project is the only one that really counts: using the book as a tool to promote the discussion of this critically important issue, and to argue that just because people discuss or question our drug policy does not mean that they condone drug use or abuse. In my view, the issue of drug policy is the most important issue that our country is now facing. We are harming ourselves by our present policy in so many ways, and the harm is unnecessary. But we have viable options, and it is time that we fully discuss and explore those options. And in furthering this discussion and changing our course, we need the help of everyone, of every background, and of every experience level.

Writing a book has been an unbelievably large amount of work. But if this effort can be responsible for moving the day that we change away from our failed drug policy forward by even one day, then it will result in numbers of lives being saved and many others from being needlessly ruined. Obviously, that would make all of the effort worthwhile. But we need help from everyone in order to get this important work done.

Judge James Gray's book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About it - A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, is available for order from Temple University Press through leading bookstores and online sources, including Amazon.com.

Los Angeles Times


Is Our Drug Policy Failing? Don’t Ask

By James P. Gray
March 29, 2000 in print edition B-7 Los Angeles Times

Recently, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, our nation’s “drug czar,” was invited to Orange County for a debate about drug policy. He said all he had time to do was give a speech and take a few questions.

My question was: Many people here in California feel that the federal government is closed-minded, even arrogant, in dealing with medical marijuana. Since Proposition 215, which allowed sick people to use marijuana as medicine if it was recommended to them by a doctor, passed by a large margin in this state, and similar measures have passed in four other states plus the District of Columbia, will you now do what you can to cause the federal government to allow the will of the voters in these states to prevail?

McCaffrey’s answer was, in essence, that since in his mind marijuana was not a medicine, the voters in all of these states could pound sand.

Our drug czar has now gone back to Washington. But there remain many other critical questions I want to ask him about our nation’s failed war on drugs:

* Have you considered that the enormous problems in countries like Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Afghanistan are really not caused by drugs as such but by drug prohibition? That is to say, the problems come directly from the money obtained from the sale of these drugs. So couldn’t we use our intellect, strength and ingenuity to come up with some way of deprofitizing these drugs? This will probably not have any adverse effect upon the availability of these dangerous drugs, even to our children or even to people in prison, because under the present policy the drugs are already fully available. But if we could take the money out of the equation, we wouldn’t have to consider sending our nations’ troops and treasure down to these countries to fight these unwinnable wars.

* Have you considered that since all neutral studies have shown overwhelmingly that programs of needle exchange for drug-addicted people, which allow a dirty needle and syringe to be exchanged for a clean one with no money changing hands and no questions asked, do not increase drug usage but do greatly reduce the transmission of the AIDS virus, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and other serious diseases both to the drug users as well as to their sexual partners and to the newborns of female drug users? Since these programs have been endorsed by organizations like the American Medical Assn., the Centers for Disease Control, the National Commission on AIDS and the General Accounting Office, as well as by the secretary of Health and Human Services, will the federal government now finally change laws that make these programs illegal?

* Do you know what other countries around the world are doing about these problems? For example, are you aware that Switzerland, in an effort to reduce the harm caused by these dangerous drugs, has implemented pilot programs for drug maintenance in 15 of its cities? These programs allow addicted drug users to have access to low-cost pharmaceutical morphine, heroin and methadone, which can be injected under strict medical supervision in licensed medical clinics. The programs have been so successful in reducing crime in the neighborhoods surrounding the clinics and increasing the health and employment of the clients that more than 70% of the Swiss voters opposed an initiative that would have abolished them. Since reducing crime and increasing general health and employability of our people are good things, why have we not established similar pilot programs in our country?

* Don’t you realize that our war on drugs is not working, and that our prohibitionist policies are significantly adding to our problems here in Southern California, as well as around the country and the world? Don’t you realize that just because some of us talk about changing our policy does not mean that we condone the use or abuse of these dangerous drugs?

* Finally, since you control a federal budget that has just been increased from $17.8 billion last year to $19.2 billion this year, is asking people like you if we should continue with our nation’s current drug policy like a person asking a barber if one needs a haircut?

These are some of the questions I would have asked our country’s spokesperson for the status quo, if only he had had the time.


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