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Bad Axe Pot Case To Be Heard In Circuit Court

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Bad Axe pot case to be heard in circuit court


Published: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 8:39 AM EDT <br style="mso-special-character:line-break"> <br style="mso-special-character:line-break">



Tribune Staff Writer


BAD AXE — A 46-year-old Livonia man will face a charge of manufacturing marijuana following a ruling late Friday by District Court Judge David B. Herrington.


The conclusion of the preliminary examination resumed Friday in district court, where Jeffrey Ellis was facing a manufacturing marijuana charge and a felony firearms charge. Both charges stem from a September 2009 bust at a rental home located on W. Huron Avenue in Bad Axe.


After hearing testimony presented by the prosecution, Herrington ruled there was sufficient evidence to bind Ellis over to circuit court for a trial on the marijuana charge only.



Testimony from Gerald L. Green, Ellis’ brother-in-law, who lived at the W. Huron Avenue home in 2009, revealed the firearm police found in a bedroom of the home during the raid was Green’s, not Ellis’.


Green told Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Michael H. Schuitema that he was given the “deer hunting rifle” by his father. He also testified he was aware of the marijuana growing operation in the basement of the home, but he had no involvement.


“The room was locked all the time,” said Green. “I had no interest in it. It (the marijuana) was for my sister (who was ill and has since passed away). Whatever helped her.”


But despite his testimony that the door to the basement was “always locked” where the marijuana was being maintained and harvested by Ellis, Green testified he never tried to open the door or go into the basement.


Whether the door to the basement was locked was pivotal during the preliminary examination. Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act requires all caregivers to keep the marijuana they grow in a locked room.


Bad Axe Police Chief David Rothe testified Friday that “no locking mechanism” was found on the door at the time of the raid.


“He was a caregiver for four people, but had 85 plants — that’s too many,” said Schuitema, asking Herrington to bind the matter over to circuit court. “All 85 plants found by Chief Rothe had leaves and root systems as seen in the photos, 68 plants analyzed by the Michigan State Police determined them to be marijuana.”


Rothe testified at the May 18 preliminary examination that the police department did check Ellis’ caregiver cards and they were valid. In total, five cards were valid. Caregivers are allowed up to 12 marijuana plants per patient, and when asked whether police would have arrested someone who had one card and 12 plants, Rothe said no.


Testifying Friday afternoon were Sgt. Michael H. Anderson, who was police chief at the time of the raid. Anderson was one of the first people in the door, on which Officer Shawn Webber used a battery ram to get inside the home. At one point during the raid, Anderson video recorded rooms inside the home while officers were seizing the marijuana and growing equipment.


Anderson’s video, which he narrated, was shown during the preliminary examination Friday.


Reporter Kim Russell, from WEYI TV-25, also testified Friday. Russell was questioned about her interview with Ellis following the bust.


“He said he was a medical marijuana caregiver,” said Russell. “He said he wanted to help some of his friends and his wife who had Lupus.”


She also said Ellis told her the Bad Axe Police claimed he had too many plants.


“He said he did not,” said Russell.


Ellis’ attorney, Michael Komorn, of Southfield, argued Friday the marijuana charge should be dismissed due to the fact that Ellis is a caregiver registered with the Michigan Department of Community Health and his compliance with the law made him immune to arrest, prosecution and any penalty under the law.


Herrington determined through testimony by Rothe that the doors to the growing operations were not locked, which he determined to be a clear violation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. He said Ellis was in compliance with the act to some degree, but the level of compliance is a question for the trier of fact.


While Herrington determined there was sufficient evidence to bind Ellis over to circuit court on the marijuana charge, he dismissed the felony firearms charge.


“There was insufficient evidence for the court to conclude Mr. Ellis knew the rifle was in this location,” said Herrington, who set a July 6 date for Ellis to be arraigned on the charge of manufacturing marijuana.


The September 2009 bust was a result of an investigation conducted by the Bad Axe Police Department after an anonymous tip was given to the Oakland Sheriff’s Department, which passed on the tip to Bad Axe police in August 2009.


A lengthy investigation followed, and in April 2010, Bad Axe police filed a warrant request seeking charges against Ellis. Charges weren’t officially filed, however, until nearly a year later.


The magistrate authorized a warrant for Ellis’ arrest March 25, and Ellis turned himself in March 29 without incident. He was arraigned April 13 in Huron County District Court, where a not guilty plea was entered by the court on behalf of Ellis.


The preliminary exam began May 18.


The maximum penalty for manufacturing of marijuana is four years in prison and/or fines up to $20,000.


Though Bad Axe police filed warrant requests seeking charges against Ellis and two other men — one from the Livonia area and one from Whitmore Lake — in April 2010, only Ellis has been charged in connection to the Sept. 25, 2009 bust.


Reporter Kate Hessling contributed to this story.


Stacy Langley • (989) 269-6461 • slangley@hearstnp.com



Michael A. Komorn


Attorney and Counselor


Law Office of Michael A. Komorn


3000 Town Center, Suite, 1800


Southfield, MI 48075


800-656-3557 (Toll Free)


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Email: michael@komornlaw.com


Website: www.komornlaw.com


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Call-in Number: (347) 326-9626




Attorney Michael Komorn’ practice specializes in Medical Marihuana representation. He is a board member with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA), a nonprofit patient advocacy group with over 20,000 members, which advocates for medical marihuana patients, and caregiver rights. He is also an experienced defense attorney successfully representing many wrongfully accused medical marihuana patients and caregivers. He is also the founder of Greentrees of Detroit, a medical marihuana community center that offers patient certification, legal consultation, cannabis education, business development, and caregiver’s classes.










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How is over 80 plants in compliance? Otherwise I don't see a basis for a charge here. Clearly if they had to use a battering ram to get in the grow was secured. Would be nice if there were a couple more layers of locks, but it was enough. I'm glad to see the court tossed out the bogus firearms charge. Sometimes the courts have some common sense it seems.


Dr. Bob

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Again .. the law does not require a grow to even have locks. Since the law doesn't require the area to even be equipped with locks, how does the law require that it is locked?


The law says secured by locks or other security devices.


Such as an armed guard?


Advise like this will put patients in jail. Lock the rooms.


Dr. Bob


Michael, you can chime in any time.

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It said 85 plants but 65 were marijuana. Either the other 20 were mutations or he had an herb garden like me. I wonder if they would use a battering ram on an open door? I'm sure they would but there has been many comedy skits like that.

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I noticed the comment from the judge that "He said Ellis was in compliance with the act to some degree, but the level of compliance is a question for the trier of fact."


Was it secure ENOUGH.


Is there a reason for over the count? Such as was he trying to raise enough to save his wifes life?

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