Lawyer for Jailed Brotherhood Figure Demands Dismissal of Case

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Brenice Lee Smith: Welcome Home, Now go to Jail.


Wow, that was fast.

Yesterday I blogged that a judge denied a request by Gerardo Gutierrez, the lawyer for Brenice Lee Smith, the onetime member of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love who has spent the past three decades living in a Nepalese monastery, to reduce his client's bail from $1.1 million to $50,000. Smith has now been behind bars for a month, apparently awaiting trial on 40-year-old charges that he conspired to smuggle a bunch of hashish from Afghanistan. In the post I mentioned that Gutierrez hadn't filed a motion to have the charges dismissed but that he planned to do so no later than Dec. 7. I also outlined some common-sense reasons why Smith should be set free immediately.

Today, Gutierrez emailed me a copy of that very motion, which essentially argues that the 1972 conspiracy indictment against Smith and more than two dozen other Brotherhood defendants failed to convincingly charge anybody with any specific crimes, instead simply stating that all of the defendants had conspired to form a church, live in Laguna Beach, deal acid and smuggle hash. (And yes, one of the charges in that indictment really was living in Laguna Beach, and yes, every single person charged in that indictment either pled guilty to lesser charges or had the charges dismissed with prejudice, meaning they can never be refiled).

"Brenice Smith respectfully submits that both of his indictments and all charges thereof should be dismissed with prejudice," the motion states. "In the indictment...there is not any allegation or specifics provided concerning the allged  'importation, transportation, ale of marijuana (in all its forms) poessession of  marijuana for sale, furnish(ing) marijuana to [a] minor, possession of marijuana, sale, transportation, furnishing, manufacturing, administering drugs without prescription, unlawful possession of drugs for sale, possession of drugs without prescription, using a minor as agent or inducing violation by furnishing to a minor, maintaining places for the unlawful disposal of narcotics, possession for purposes of sale of narcotics other than marijuana, transportation, importation, sale, etc., of narcotics other than marijuana, and to commit acts injurious to the public health, to public morals, and to pervert and obstruct justice and due administration of laws."

Whew. Back to Guitierrez' motion.

"Simply stating that someone is involved in in a conspiracy, without more, is exactly the evil that needs to be avoided by at least requiring an assembling of defendants to form a conspiratorial agreement."

In fact, the closest the original Brotherhood indictment now being used to jail Smith actually comes to alleging a specific 'conspiratorial agreement' is when it cites the group's October 1966 articles of incorporation, which were filed in Sacramento about two weeks after the California Legislature banned LSD, becoming the first state to prohibit the drug, and unwittingly turning the Brotherhood of Eternal Love from a (relatively) law abiding group of acid heads into the biggest group of outlaws in the Golden State.

By the way, this is what the Brotherhood of Eternal Love set out to do in those articles of incorporation cited in the indictment in question: "[to] bring the world a greater awareness of God through the teachings of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Ramakrishna, Babaji, Parahamansa Yogananda , Mahatma Gandhi, and all true prophets and apostles of God, and to spread the love and wisdom of these great teachers to all men irrespective of race, color or circumstances."

Thank god the cops put a stop to that.

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