Fred Fletcher, September 15, 2019

Farewell to Humboldt

My family and I are relocating to Oregon although an office will be maintained in Eureka for awhile. We moved to Humboldt with hopes of helping to improve the community, and learned billions of dollars of cash floating around a rural county unleashes a distopia: "a place where the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror."  Humboldt is full of wonderful individuals who are intimidated, uninformed, or tired of trying. Humboldt's golden age was when people did not inhabit her, and so we leave Humboldt. Please destroy English Ivy wherever you see her. 

August 18, 2019

Fred Fletcher 

Is Latin a Dead Language in Humboldt?

Latin is still used to describe legal doctrines. 

  • "Defacto" means "in fact"
  • "Ex parte" means "by one party"
  • "Fiat" means "let it be done"
  • "De novo" means "anew"

The term "de novo" is commonly used to describe the right to a new trial of an administrative hearing officer's decision if appealed. This is an important right that can effect disability payments, permit and license revocations, and property rights.  Without the right to a traditional "de novo" review of an administrative hearing officer's decision property and civil rights are at risk. An administrative hearing officer is someone the Government pays to determine the rights of its residents. Sometimes these hearing officers are unqualified, bias, or conflicted so California law allows their decisions to be reviewed by judges "de novo" or "anew."

Two Humboldt Superior Court Judges Kelly Neel, and Gregory Elvine-Kreis have determined the term "de novo" means the exact opposite of it's Latin origin. Both judges have held that a "de novo" review of an administrative hearing officer's decision is limited to the record at the administrative hearing meaning the review is not "anew" but is the opposite.  Our judges have decided nothing "anew" is allowed to be presented on appeal to challenge the hearing officer's decision. This is an astonishing holding (postmodernism?) which appears to contravene the findings of every other Judge in the State who has pondered the issue.  Will the Court of appeals agree with our Humboldt Court by turning Latin on it's head and disposing of due process? 


Fred Fletcher

July 15, 2019

Supreme Court Resurrects Property Rights from the Grave

Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, No. 17-647, 588 U.S. ___ (2019)

Ms. Knick bought 90-acres of land in 1970 in Pennsylvania.  In 2008, rumors started to circulate a dead body was buried on her land. A relative of the dead body convinced (probably bought) the City Counsel to designate the land as a cemetery which forced Ms. Knick to allow visitors on her land. Ms. Knick sued in State court where her case was dismissed because the City had not filed an enforcement action against her. 

Ms. Knick petitioned the US Supreme Court to overturn a catch-22 for property owners. She claimed the City turning her property into a cemetery was an illegal taking (without just compensation) under the 5th amendment. Prior to this decision property owners were barred from seeking relief in Federal Court until they had sued and appealed all the way to the State Supreme Court. 

The US Supreme Court overturned this rule and now property owners can sue directly in Federal Court when a locality takes property without just compensation. This decision may bring an end to our local bureaucracy. 

Humboldt Planning and Building Department, Director John Ford on bottom right

Eureka Public Transit System

I've been grounded from driving since Mother's day due to a medical condition giving me an opportunity to review Eureka's public transit system.  On average public transit in Eureka is as fast as walking. 

California Proposes Reducing Cannabis Taxes to Fight Illicit Market 

Assembly Bill 286, dubbed the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction bill, would temporarily cut state excise taxes for legal marijuana retailers from 15 percent to 11 percent and also suspend cultivation taxes altogether through 2022.  The proposed legislation, which is sponsored by state Treasurer Fiona Ma.  “The whole aim of legalization is to compete with the illicit market and to get people to buy from the regulated establishments,” he said. “You can’t do that if the taxes are so high and onerous that people are driven out of that market.”

This is at odds with the taxing scheme in Humboldt were the black market is estimated to be 1,500% larger than the white market.  Yesterday, the Court refused to dismiss the Measure S lawsuit attorney Eugene Denson and I filed. The lawsuit seeks to return the tax to a crop tax as approved by the voters. The suit challenges the constitutionality of an amendment our county supervisors made to impose the tax whether or not plants are grown. 

Fred Fletcher

January 29, 2019

Human Rights Update

Judge, Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the US District Court in Oakland, on Sunday granted a request by more than a dozen states to temporarily block the Trump administration from putting into effect new rules that would make it easier for employers to deny women health insurance coverage for contraceptives. 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

New Laws in California for 2019

Farm Employee Overtime

In 2016, California became the first state in the U.S. to require employers to pay overtime for farm workers who work more than eight hours. The first phase of the new rules will begin in January, when agricultural employees will earn overtime after working 9 1/2 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week. Currently, California farm-workers can get overtime after working 60 hours in a week or 10 hours in a day.  The change only applies to businesses that employ at least 26 people. The rules do not apply to smaller agricultural employers until 2022. Our office consults with agricultural employers on compliance matters and we represent employees on wage and labor claims. Aside from wage and hour claims, sexual harassment and discrimination are constant concerns on the farm. 

Street Vendor Permits

A law going into effect in January will allow local governments to design permit programs for vendors and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted. It pertains to anyone selling food or other merchandise from a pushcart, stand or “non-motorized conveyance.” I anticipate the City of Eureka will embrace this new law and its economic benefits. I predict the County will ignore this law until the County is forced to follow it by a judge.  

Home Kitchen Businesses

A new law encourages Counties (like Humboldt) to permit home kitchens for the purpose of selling food products. California Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, who authored the bill, says that homemade food sales are a vital part of self-reliant communities. “Legitimizing these home businesses will offer a means of economic empowerment and pathways for many to achieve the ‘American dream,’” Garcia said when the bill was signed. Humboldt historically resists new opportunities which provide residents access to residual income. Perhaps after the County Supervisors election in 2020 progress will be made on this front.  

Fred Fletcher

January 17, 2019

The Measure S Lawsuit

Measure S is the cannabis cultivation tax the voters passed. We are challenging the County Supervisor's decision to amend Measure S as passed by the voters. The Supervisors amended the tax to apply to the property owner, not the farmer, and regardless of whether any crop is grown.  

Yesterday, we filed our response to the County's demurrer to the Measure S lawsuit. (Set to be heard January 28, 2019.) The County hired a large Sacramento Firm (founded the year I was born) to defend the lawsuit. They argue it's impossible to tax farmers for the actual crop grown because the County can't verify how much was grown. We informed the Court, governments since the beginning of governments have taxed farmers for crops actually grown, and we cited the Book of Genesis as our evidence.  

The amendments by the Supervisors have been misreported. The Supervisors amended Measure S to tax the permitted area regardless of the amount of crop grown.  As such, the supervisors have amended the tax to be assessed against fallow land, without regard to crop grown. We provided the Court authority that Measure S as amended is a property tax and is unconstitutional. We ask the Court to return Measure S to its original state which acted as an excise tax on legal crop actually grown. 

We will update this one. 

Fred Fletcher

January 15, 2019

County Supervisor's Can't Silence Critics, including Humboldt's Supervisors. 

In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by banning him for 12 hours from her “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” facebook page.

Last election my office received a few complaints from citizens who were censored for making comments critical of politicians, on the left and right (somehow our local politics are becoming politically polarized). Now these citizens may have recourse. This First Amendment decision could impact local elections nationwide by allowing the public to be heard.    

Fred Fletcher

January 8, 2019

Update on Nation v Trump filed in the 9th Circuit

This lawsuit challenges HUD's rule which forces subsidized apartments to evict medical cannabis users. Plaintiff was evicted from her HUD apartment on July 10, 2018 when a maintenance man discovered some medical cannabis in her bedroom. She remains homeless and is not alone.

The lawsuit not only challenges HUD's rule but relies upon Murphy v NCAA (decided May 2018) to challenge the constitutionality of the Controlled Substance Act itself relative to medical marijuana in the State of California. The Supreme Court in Murphy v NCAA resurrected from near death the anti-commandeering doctrine, which in laymen's terms means the Congress cannot make orders directly to the States. 

We are optimistic this lawsuit will prevail. If the District Court issues an order in our favor appealing the decision would pose a political pitfall for the Trump administration. 

I will update this one.

January 3, 2019

Fred Fletcher 

Update on Volkswagen Diesel Fraud Case

We filed an action in Butte County on May 17, 2018 with the intent of having a jury decide punitive damages. We would be the first party to bring the defeat device case to jury trial.  Peer reviewed studies proved thousands of people with lung diseases died from the fraud.  


From Alabama to California: Family moves to obtain medical marijuana

Posted by Lacy Fletcher on Monday, August 31, 2015 Under: Marijuana Regulation

By Paul Gattis

The passion and the energy resonated from California to Alabama, the video interview providing a window into the raw determination that drives Vicki Hill.

She left 32 years of her life behind in Huntsville to relocate to northern California in search of a medical marijuana sanctuary for her 20-year-old daughter, Aubrie, who has suffered from epilepsy since she was 5.

The Hills are a snapshot of a small migration west for some Alabama families seeking access to various forms of medical marijuana that are unlawful to possess in their home state. In the Hills' new California home, medical marijuana is legal.

One Alabama family that moved to Oregon to access medical marijuana chose not to do an interview with at this time while another in Colorado did not respond to an interview request.

Hill, meanwhile, has a message she wants you to hear. And for a state like Alabama, which has barely dipped its toe into the world of medical marijuana through 2014's Carly's Law study, it may be shocking.

While anti-epilepsy drugs (AEDs) left her daughter suicidal, Hill said, marijuana – both in the recreational and medical iterations – have rescued Aubrie from that physical and emotional abyss.

And, yes, that marijuana treatment includes Aubrie getting a high.

"There sure is," her mother said when asked if there was a high associated with the medical marijuana Aubrie takes. "And you know what? I will tell you something and I think it's really ridiculous the way the Deep South has embraced this CBD strain that doesn't cause any kind of mind-altering ... God forbid we should make these children happy, right?"

Hill's voice began to take on an edge, an urgency that trampled on the popular selling point in Alabama of marijuana's cannabidiol (CBD oil) that does not include a capacity for euphoria.

"Just take a look at any of the AEDs that the western medical community is pushing," Hill continued. "All of them – all of them -- affect these children's personalities and not in a good way – not euphoric at all. It makes them depressed, it makes them moody, it makes them emotional. Keppra was so bad. You can look at the side effects of Keppra (an AED which includes mood changes such as violent behavior, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks, according to the Food & Drug Administration).

"When the Southern culture is so closed-minded that they can't allow something because it might alter a personality, I take issue with that strongly. And I think you can feel that in the way that I'm delivering it to you at this moment."

Immediate results

The Hills have been in California for two weeks, moving into an apartment in the Santa Rosa suburb of Sebastopol – about 55 miles north of San Francisco. Vicki said she spent 32 years in Huntsville and that she and Aubrie have left a wealth of family behind.

Already, they say, Aubrie has seen a decrease in seizures with more accessible CBD oil as well as THCA, another marijuana extract.

"We were able to get her some CBD oil," Vicki said, "and a product called THCA she is to ingest and that, so far, when she went from having several auras (warning signs of a possible seizure that may include partial seizures) and the day after we arrived, she had a very violent seizure before we were able to get her on the medication.

"So far, she has gone from having 10-12 auras a day and a big Grand mal (a full-body seizure that can include a loss of consciousness) and she hasn't had any more and her auras have gone down to about one a day."

Aubrie began to see a marked improvement in her health three years ago when she began to smoke recreational marijuana, her mother said. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, classified on the same level as heroin and LSD and on a higher level than Schedule 2 drugs cocaine and methamphetamine.

"Aubrie did discover recreational marijuana on her own about three years ago and I witnessed a child that went from suicidal to giggling and hungry," Vicki said. "Her appetite was horrible on regular Western medication. So she started smoking pot and I, quite frankly, in the state of Alabama, said 'Let's go get some more.'

"So we did that and looked over our shoulders for two years. It was horrifying. I was very worried about the legal implications of that."

The Hills, though, said they could not ignore the benefits.

"It didn't mainly help the seizures," Aubrie said. "It helped things that would cause seizures – eating disorder, stress, no sleep."

Vicki said, "My daughter was 18 and I was like, 'What the heck happened to her?' She was suicidal, like looking at cutting her wrists, crying all the time; I couldn't get her off the couch. She wouldn't eat, couldn't eat. So it was a marked difference just for her to explore with the recreational. I have taken a lot of heat on that one – not only with my friends but her friends and her family and everything else. It's just a stigma that's attached to it and it's unfortunate."

Vicki said she does not advocate smoking marijuana, saying there are more effective ways to ingest it than through smoking.

"Honestly, I've seen Aubrie's energy increase since we've been on the THCA and the CBD oil. Recreational marijuana, to me, while it was a prop in Huntsville while we were there, it was something that she used temporarily. To me, it was not the best delivery – smoking is not the best delivery.

In its various forms, marijuana has proven to be more effective than synthetic drugs, Vicki said.

"We have found that the anti-epileptic drugs have about a six-month lifetime before they start failing," said Vicki, saying that doctors frequently would increase the dosage to combat the diminishing benefits. And the side effects, she said, "are just unbelievable."

"A big whew!"

The fear over the legal aspects of marijuana finally drove the Hills to California, Vicki said. Her online business has most of its customers in California, she said, which made the move to the West Coast seamless from a professional standpoint.

"It's been extremely stressful but at the same time, the legal aspect is a big 'whew!'" Vicki said. "From the moment I arrived on California soil, I didn't feel like I was breaking the law anymore."

While still getting settled in California, Aubrie has not yet found a doctor to help her care for her epilepsy. She plans to visit the University of California San Francisco Medical Center soon. UCSF has been a leader in medical marijuana research and the San Diego campus is home to the University of California's Center for Medical Cannabis Research.

Vicki is also in the process of starting a non-profit organization – Voices for Cannabis -- to advocate for medical marijuana. A website ( is expected to go live soon.

Vicki described the foundation as "my goal and my dream now for four or five months since I started realizing California was going to happen."

"My goal is to change the stigma around medical marijuana by sharing the stories of people it has impacted positively," she said. "If we can just convince people that it's not evil, I think that would be great."

In : Marijuana Regulation 

Tags: california medical marijuana 


Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. Warning may contain more opinions than facts.