Criminal Charge: Possession of Drugs While on Felony Probation
Case: State v. Henry Rivers
Court: [CF-05-323, Washington County]
Result: Straight probation
Mr. Rivers was charged with possession of CDS within 1000 feet of a park and false personation. Bartlesville PD arrested him while he was the passenger in a car. Incomprehensibly, the State attempted to use the driver as a witness against Henry – and released her pre-trial – even though she confessed at the scene that the bag containing eighteen packets of crack in the car console was hers and she was selling the crack…!
Originally represented by two other court-appointed lawyers, Mr. Rivers demanded a new attorney when he was offered 8 years in the penitentiary. The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System’s headquarters appointed Haslam.
Haslam immediately filed motions to dismiss the case. Arguing the long line of Oklahoma cases holding that “mere proximity” to drugs is insufficient to convict for possession [Hishaw v. State, 1997 OK CR 276, for example], Haslam persuaded the District Attorney he simply had no case. The State dropped the false personation charge, amended the drug charge to simple possession and Henry pleaded guilty and immediately walked out of jail with a 10 year suspended sentence.
This case should have been tried or dismissed completely because the law simply was not going to support either charge. However, Henry did not want to risk sitting in prison while appealing a bad jury verdict after spending eight months in the inhuman Washington County jail to fight these charges.