Cruiser: Conditional Discharge For Weed

October 12, 2011

In yesterday morning’s [Oct.11] Plea Court, Senior Magistrate Archie Warner granted a Conditional Discharge to an American cruise ship passenger who had pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing 5.0 grams of cannabis resin.

The charge arose out a Bermuda Customs searching of the “Nordic Empress” on Monday 10th October 2011. The drugs were found in a plastic bag, in a locked safe, in cabin 2334.

Mr Johnny Nunez, a 28-year-old New Yorker who works as a First Mate on a dinner cruise ship operating in NY harbour admitted that the drugs were his.

Duty Counsel, Saul Dismont, assisted Mr Nunez. Mr Dismont argued that the amount of drugs found was just over the Department of Public Prosecutions [DPP] ‘limits’; that the drugs were clearly intended for personal use; that the drugs had been found in a locked safe on board the ship; and that Mr Nunez was employed and would likely suffer hardship if he lost his job as a result of being convicted on this charge.

Mr Dismont ended his argument by asking that, in all the circumstances, Mr Nunez should be granted a Conditional Discharge.

After a few minutes of introspection, Senior Magistrate Warner began to speak, saying that this was: “…a vexing and embarrassing situation for the courts for a number of reasons including the cutoff point relating to the DPP policy of not prosecuting people for drugs if certain criteria is met.”

The Senior Magistrate went on: “One criteria is the amount of drugs relating to the charge. Thus a person who has four grams would be prosecuted in these courts while a person who has 2.5 grams would not be prosecuted, at the discretion of the DPP.”

“But the DPP is not charged with adjudication. This causes difficulty and embarrassment in dealing with these types of amounts. Superimposed on all that is the distinction as to how ‘locals’ compare to tourists and should be dealt with. There is also the problem of how this impacts on the criteria for a Conditional Discharge. I have no feelings which way.”

“It is time that the Executive make up their minds and rationalize the law in this area. It is causing embarrassment. The Court should try for consistency.”

“Mr Dismont’s argument goes to the heart of Conditional Discharge. If there are circumstances relevant to an individual showing that he would be treated more harshly than another; if you’re going to lose your job and ability to travel, this would be a punishment over and above the statutory punishment that the law allows.”

The Senior Magistrate then gave his judgment. He granted Mr Nunez a Conditional Discharge for twelve months, telling him that he would not have a criminal conviction in this jurisdiction if he got into no further trouble in the next twelve months.

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Comments (11)

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  1. My two cents says:

    Finally some logical thinking in our justice system. Halleluiah! We are coming into the 21st century in regard to this issue! Customs, time to get your sh.. together!

  2. Mad Dawg says:

    Interesting. This is highly detailed story about a fairly routine trial of a tourist with marijuana. There cases like this every week, and most of them get reported.

    Yet there is no report of the Andre Curtis trial.

    It’s just interesting, that’s all.

  3. will says:

    better yet the courts should just throw out any cases about weed…seriously, these judges went to law school, spent thousands on doing so only to end up a judge that only sentences people for weed..what a waste of a life…if i was a judge i would walk out of the court…..DECRIMINALISE the plant instead of wasting everyone time and money

    • Mad Dawg says:

      A judge can’t decriminalise something. He’s supposed to apply the law as it stands. If you think the law should be changed, it’s the elected government that has the power to do that.

      I’d have more of a problem with it if the judge took it upon himself not to apply the law. That would be an abuse of the position.

      • My two cents says:

        If that were the case then these judges would be applying the laws related to gun possession, harboring fugitives, assault, rape, murder etc. The laws for gun possession if found guilty of course say lifetime sentences and that doesn’t happen here, so they do use digression for all crimes all the time. Marijuana is no different.

  4. SMH says:

    So a Foreigner gets caught with a illegal substance and gets a Dis charge, but when a Bermudian gets caught with a lil bit of .. marijuana he /she gets on the stop list??


    • My two cents says:

      The laws need to be changed to reflect the 21st century, period.

      • g man says:

        Yes-very old laws
        1. also Archaic Of, relating to, or characteristic of a much earlier, often more primitive period

  5. YES MATE! says:

    Someone should tell Customs about the DPP’s policy, and then Mr Nunez would have been spared the embarrassment of a court appearance and we would have been spared the cost of slapping this guy on the wrist. Good work Archie, but a complete discharge would have made more sense because aceboy won’t be back here within 12 months, and after being dragged to court I doubt if he’ll ever come back. Still, it’s good to see we didn’t rob the poor bastard of $2000 for a little bit of dried vegetation.