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Reply #38: For my criminal and civil asset forfeiture cases, almost 300 letters were submitted to the court. [View All]

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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-11 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #28
38. For my criminal and civil asset forfeiture cases, almost 300 letters were submitted to the court.
Edited on Sun Jan-30-11 02:02 PM by Fly by night
We used to have a sampling of them posted on my website: . However, we took down that web-site in September of last year (too soon, it appears.)

However, here are eleven letters that were submitted as part of the civil asset forfeiture case. Hopefully, they will give you some idea of how to frame your own letters.

From a former Republican Governor of Delaware:

Honorable Judge Haynes,

As a former Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Delaware and former Chair of our Pardons board, as an active Republican and a founding member of SURJ: (Stand Up for Whats Right and Just), I want to write to offer my support for Bernie Ellis. SURJ is a statewide, grassroots organization focusing on the reform of Delawares criminal justice system with an emphasis on access to effective, high quality treatment, fairness in sentencing and successful reentry. Bernie Ellis has worked on all of these issues and brings invaluable experience and commitment to this work. As an epidemiologist and a community organizer, Bernie has been generous with his time and resources, with special commitments to working with those who are struggling with addiction.

I met Bernie during a national conference in Nashville almost ten years ago. It is clear that he brings urgently needed gifts to our communities and has done excellent work in the area of substance abuse prevention and treatment. This is an area I have focused on and I am convinced that Bernies creativity and vision on this issue add wisdom, insight and practical possibilities for healing and hope to many who are struggling.

As someone who grew up on a farm and knows what it means to be deeply connected to the earth, I want to urge the court to drop the current effort to seize Bernies farm. He has already paid a high price and I hope this issue will soon be resolved in his favor.

Sincerely Yours,


From a personal friend here in Tennessee:

Dear Judge Haynes,

I have known Bernie Ellis for many years and wish to offer my support to him in regard to this ongoing legal matter concerning the forfeiture of his farm.

This matter could have been resolved many times over and, in my opinion, it could have been resolved in favor of Bernie. He is a man that we need working for us, as a City, State, and Nation -- as a people. In no way has Bernie shown evidence, before or after the raid on his farm, that would require the federal government to spend the amount of time and resources that it has in an effort to bring further punishment to someone who has dedicated his life to be of service to his fellow man.

If, indeed, we were to be blessed in a way that would somehow recreate people like Bernie over and over, our State, Nation, and World would be a better place to live.

I have to believe that those who seek to continue to prolong this punitive process are also good people. It is reasonable to believe that the pain that Bernie has felt over the past seven years far exceeds what was necessary to punish the altruistic person Bernie truly is.

Please -- on behalf of what is right, responsible, and good -- allow an end to come to this effort to punish Bernie further. Seek no more to destroy him. Find ways to join with so many of us who wish to have Bernie and others like him working to bring healing to our World. He is, by no stretch of the imagination, the enemy.

I entreat you to bless us all by saying: "This is finally over, Bernie. Go home to your farm. We will leave you to the work to which you have been called and of which you have proven throughout your life to be so capable."

As one of many, Bernie has taught me much about grace over these years that he has been my friend. I ask of you, the legal arm of our government, to end this punitive action. It would truly be wrong and without cause to continue it. Please do what is right and just -- reject any further effort by Bernies prosecutors to "WIN AT ALL COSTS."

There are so many more issues that we face which impact us as a Nation in such a more profound manner. Please proceed with your work, the final dispensation of justice in this case, with our encouragement and blessing. As with Bernie, you are in my prayers.

MLM, Co-Founder, Patients Out of Time

Dear Judge William Haynes,

I am writing to you in support of Bernie Ellis. My name is Mary Lynn Mathre. I know Bernie Ellis through my work advocating for patient access to a legal supply of medicinal cannabis. In 1995, a group of patients and health care professionals formed a non-profit organization, Patients Out of Time, which is dedicated to educating health care professionals and the public about the therapeutic use of cannabis. I am a registered nurse and I firmly believe that cannabis/marijuana was wrongly placed in Schedule I of the controlled substances because it does have medical value and is very safe for medical use.

I met Bernie at a conference in Washington, DC (in 2004). We have been in contact with each other through email since that time. I believe that punishment should fit the crime. This is clearly not the case of a drug dealer trying to make money by growing and selling marijuana. Mr. Ellis understood the therapeutic potential of cannabis and he has a great love and talent for growing plants. He grew this plant to use as medicine and shared his crop with other patients in need. He posed no danger to society, but rather demonstrated compassion to those who suffered.

To demonstrate his commitment to this issue, he has been working with Tennessee legislators to draft a bill that will allow cannabis as medicine in the state of Tennessee. This is what we hope a good citizen does he saw an unjust and harmful law and is trying to right that wrong through the legal process. Prior to his arrest, he did not seek to make money by selling his plants. Instead he took a legal risk by growing his plants in order to alleviate suffering. He could have grown a smaller amount to take care of his personal needs, but he grew more because he knew others could benefit from the use of this plant.

Since 2000, Patients Out of Time has co-sponsored a series of biennial accredited conferences on the science that supports the clinical efficacy of cannabis as medicine. Our faculty includes researchers from the international community and in the last 2 decades scientists have learned that humans have an endogenous cannabinoid system, meaning that humans are made up of cannabis-like molecules that are essential to life. These findings are helping scientists understand how and why the cannabis plant (unique in that it is the only plant that has these cannabinoid substances) can be so therapeutic for a wide variety of conditions.

It does not make sense that our government allows the sale of Marinol (a synthetic THC pill in sesame oil), which is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, but does not allow the sale or use of the whole plant which contains other cannabinoids that are not psychoactive, but have therapeutic properties. In other words, Marinol is a safe medicine that is now in Schedule III of the controlled substances and can get a patient very "high", but the whole plant that is not as psychoactively strong and has more therapeutic potential remains illegal.

As a registered nurse, I believe very strongly that we are expected and trusted by the public to use science to guide our care. Once a healthcare professional understands the efficacy of medicinal cannabis, it is unethical to remain silent on the issue and let the prohibition continue. Many do the safe and legally correct action by voicing their opposition to the cannabis prohibition. A few individuals are willing to take a real risk and quietly break the law in order to help others by providing them a medicine that reduces their suffering and increases the quality of their lives. Mr. Ellis took that risk and has suffered the consequences of breaking this unjust law.

This caring man is now at risk of losing his farm, his home of 40 years. Clearly that would be excessive punishment that serves no one. I urge you, as a judge, to help end this long nightmare for Mr. Ellis. He has suffered long enough for what doing what most citizens do not even consider a crime. There are enough real criminals, those who commit crimes of violence to others, for law enforcement to deal with. In the name of justice, I hope you can find a way to end his nightmare so that Mr. Ellis can start to get his life back in order.

P.S. I am enclosing a list of organizations that support patient access to cannabis. Mr. Ellis has a masters degree in public health. Please note that the American Public Health Association passed its resolution in support of patient access to medicinal cannabis in 1995.

A forty+ year old friend from my hometown (Columbus, MS):

Your Honor,

I am writing this letter on behalf of Mr. Bernie Ellis. I have known Bernie for more than forty years and would like to call him my friend. But like so many other high school friends, I have not kept up with Bernie except occasionally over the years. So it was not until recently that I learned of the troubles that may lead to his losing his beloved farm. To gain some insight into the trials and tribulations he has endured, I sat last night and read the diaries he posted during the time he served his probation at the halfway house in Nashville. They gave me a glimpse into the heart and soul of a man that I think truly cares more for others than for himself, and I am ashamed that a man like Bernie ca be considered a "criminal" in our society.

As I read Bernie's description of his life on his farm, his many endeavors to help others, and even his efforts to make a positive impact at the halfway house; I believe I discovered his true crime. He is an honest man, who foolishly cares more about helping other people than he cares about the consequences of his unselfish acts.

Bernie has been deprived of his life for a year and a half for his crime of providing relief to suffering friends. Taking his farm will be tantamount to condemning him to a life sentene ofr a crime with no victims. As I read Bernie's diaries, I watched a crime show on TV. It was a case of a mother and son who hired a hit-man to murder her husband for his insurance. All three were caught and convicted of first degree murder. They were all sentenced to 25 years. I do not believe that such a man as Bernie Ellis deserves a life sentence for caring more for others than for himself.

Sir, I implore you to let the man go home. Thank you for your time.

A new (and as yet un-met) friend from Berkeley, CA:

Dear Judge Haynes,

Bernie Ellis' trial concerns me as a citizen. By reading Bernie's web-site, I've learned that he has been an extremely cooperative and good-intentioned citizen. As you well know, Bernie is not your typical drug offender. His cries were of the mildest severity and as far as is possible were committed with good intent. You've treated him very fairly so far with the criminal proceeding, but this good character needs to be extended to the civil case. If Bernie loses his land after all the time he has served in the halfway house, despite his obvious cooperation and harmlessness to society, my faith in the American Justice system will be further degraded.

Please do not cut short your rationality regarding Ellis' case now, when he most needs it.

A friend from Colorado:

Dear Judge Haynes:

I met Bernie Ellis through mutual friends who also live in Tennessee, and while I have not met him in person, I know him by his deeds. When my late husband was diagnosed two years ago with the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, Bernie put me in touch with one of his friends, who provided knowledgeable help because of her daughter's experience with the disease. I know Bernie to be a good man who cares deeply about people and his country. I know that he consistently works to improve and accomplish the things he believes in. I know him to be a man with solid core values, ones I wish more of us had. He is an honorable citizen of both Tennessee and the United States. I am proud to call him my friend.

Bernie has already paid for the so-called crime of growing marijuana on his farm and sharing it with four terminally ill neighbors. To me, laws that criminalize a generous act like that are archaic. But Bernie did what the legal system said he must: he served almost two years in a halfway houseand even then, tried to improve that situation for everyone.

Yet even that wasn't enough to satisfy the government. They continue to persecute him. They want him to pay them $225,000, without his plight being heard by a jury of his peers. Bernie's life has been consumed by all this for over seven years! At what point does such relentless activity by the government become harassment? Theoretically, the government speaks for us citizens. But I am one of those citizens, and I find their actions obscene

I know that Bernie has been unable to find gainful employment since his release from the halfway house. I know that the crops he grows on his farm have enabled him to survive and to get a little cash for paying other living expenses. Where is an honorable citizen like Bernie to get the amount of money the government is demanding? Is it ethical for the them to completely destroy such a man by forcing him to sell the one asset he has: the farm he has owned for forty years? How much does an honorable citizen need to pay "society" so that the government will finally quit hounding him for that little "crime"?

Please, Judge Haynes, I respectfully beseech that you use your power to deny any motions the government brings before you that will further punish Bernie. He has paid enough.

A friend from Wyoming:

Honorable Judge Haynes,

Please consider this document as the strongest possible support for Bernard Ellis in his quest to maintain his family farm of 40 years. I had the very great honor of working with Bernie for five years in our initiative to build and manage Wyoming's first Substance Abuse (Detox) Center. It remains impossible to measure the impact that Bernie has had on the State of Wyoming, Fremont County and most significantly, the Wind River Reservation, home of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes.

Bernie's influence has been in community development, human development, and sexual and reproductive health. My experience with Bernie has been as a participant in his initiatives in community and human development. His areas of expertise are in substance abuse and related mental health issues. He has undertaken community-wide initiatives in these areas as a response to several epidemiological studies for the State of Wyoming and the Wind River Reservation in West Central Wyoming.

As a result of his varied studies and insightful community work, Bernie is well known in Wyoming. As part of a community effort to address substance abuse, Bernie obtained a three-year grant of $1.7 million from CSAT for the Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center to serve Fremont County and the Reservation. There were major barriers to getting the project started, including locating and remodeling a site. When funds were at risk because of an inability to initiate the project, Bernie organized the community, convinced the city to donate building to for the project and hustled an additional $130,000 to remodel the building. This project opened in October 2000. Not incidentally, and as a testament to his generous nature, Bernie contributed considerable private funding of his own in order to ensure that the center would open. He not only wrote grants that supported the ABATE community substance abuse program in Fremont County, but volunteered to serve on the community board to ensure its successful implementation. This program, in turn led to community education, particularly for the business community, and the creation of a youth program.

Bernie also wrote three grants to develop Substance Abuse Courts for the community and reservation. An adult court was approved for the Wind River Reservation, and a juvenile development grant was approved for the County. He continued to serve the Fremont County community even after he moved back to Tennessee, including writing a comprehensive report on the Crisis Center and generating continuing funding. He did this single handedly and without remuneration. There is no question that Bernie Ellis has done more in Wyoming for Substance Abuse than anyone in the history of the State.

I think it important that you understand my perspective on the magnitude of Bernie's contributions to the field of substance abuse in general and to Wyoming in particular. I have worked in the field of corrections and community mental health since I was 17 years of age and am now 67. I was the first Psychologist in the Wyoming Corrections system, and have also been a teacher, Director of Juvenile facility, Superintendent and Warden of prisons in both Wyoming and Montana. I was the Director of Corrections in two States.

I am writing this letter because my knowledge about Bernie is not always consistent with what has been written about him, and because the proposed costs associated with his crime greatly exceed what would be considered just in our just society. He certainly did violate the law in providing marijuana to friends who were dying. That is incontrovertible. However, at some point in our lives, we must look beyond the act and examine the intentions. Bernard Ellis is not a "drug dealer" but a humanitarian. He deserves our respect, not our condemnation. This generous and kindly man has suffered greatly for his illegal acts, and further punishment is simply illogical. The loss of his family farm would be a crippling, even a killing, blow to a man who is now virtually indigent. I pray you to consider the considerable and potential contributions of Bernard Ellis to our society. A magnanimous heart and a desire to alleviate human suffering, not a desire for profit, led to growing marijuana and making it available at no cost to those who were in chronic pain. If this is wrong, and our current laws say that it is, then he has already paid a very heavy price. What is ironical is that if Bernie had been a less generous man, he could easily afford to pay the fines levied against him. Instead, he gave his heart, his devotion, and his cash, to communities in need.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I have seen the number of people this man has and continues to help. Losing his farm would be akin to losing his heart, and he still has so much to contribute to a field that desperately needs his intelligence, insight, and courage.

A Tennessee state legislator:

Dear Judge Haynes:

I am proud to voice my support for Bernard Ellis, a man for whom I have the utmost respect. I first met Mr. Ellis as a result of our mutual support of a medicinal cannabis program here in Tennessee. As the sponsor of a bill to establish such a program, I am obviously aware that Mr. Ellis's actions over seven years ago were illegal. However, I am also aware of the level of hardship Mr. Ellis has experienced since then, and I am writing to express my feeling that the loss of his farm (the near-certain result of a summary judgment) would be catastrophic, constituting an excessive punishment for his crime.

In his advocacy for both medical cannabis and election integrity, Mr. Ellis has always conducted himself in a professional and courteous manner. His motivations have never appeared to stem from anything other than a genuine desire to improve life for his fellow Tennesseans. It is admirable that a man facing the loss of everything he has would continue to spend so much of his time concerned with civic responsibility. His expertise has been invaluable to me in my efforts to better serve Tennessee as an elected official. It is my sincere hope that the ruination of his personal and financial well-being not be compounded by the loss of his home.

A fellow citizen-soldier for free, fair and verifiable elections in Tennessee

Judge Haynes,

This is a quick note in support of my friend and fellow American patriot, Mr. Bernie Ellis.

As I think of Bernie's situation, I think of Blind Lady Justice, holding the scales, trying to determine if the balance is fair. In Bernie's case, it is most decidedly NOT. Lady Justice has no problem feeling that Bernie's side instantly outweighs the other. Why?

I'm not sure, because Bernie has more than paid his debt to society for growing some marijuana plants to medically help (at no charge for something that in some American states is legal) some friends who were in pain. Even if Bernie was growing for profit - which anybody who knows him will tell you he was not - in any system of fairness, he should have long-since been out of our criminal justice system.

As Bernie has been held back in his struggles for gainful employment for seven years; as Bernie has spent more that a year sleeping nightly in a halfway house, unable to tend his vegetable garden at home, nor work in a situation equal to his skills as an epidemiologist; as Bernie has had the emotional turmoil of wondering if he would lose his farm hanging over him for seven years; I feel that he has suffered enough; and that his debt has been more than paid in full. I think that Lady Justice would agree.

I have known Bernie since October of 2004, and during that time I have found him to be one of the most honest, caring and compassionate persons I have ever known. Bernie has been a leader in the fight for voting rights for all Tennesseans, founding and doggedly leading the non-patrician group, Gathering to Save our Democracy, in it's multi-year quest that ultimately changed the law of Tennessee to allow voter-verified paper ballots in our elections. Bernie is a great patriot; true only to fairness, freedom and justice, but never to a particular political dogma or party.

So please, Your Honor, listen to Lady Justice when she feels that Bernie Ellis should not pay any further for a victimless crime that was born of compassion for his fellow man.

Bernie is not a threat to society. He has learned his lesson. He will no longer grow illegal marijuana for any reason.

I humbly ask you to allow Bernie Ellis to be released from the United States criminal justice system, and to be able to keep his farm, the only tangible asset he has left.

If asked, I will gladly speak publicly in support of Bernie Ellis.

Lady Justice knows.

A friend in Indonesia

Dear Judge Haynes,

I write to you from my office in Indonesia, where I am currently based working on my PhD on the role of forests in rural development in China.

I have known Bernie since 2001, when we were introduced by mutual friends in Tennessee. I spent a lot of time on Bernie's farm, and got to know him well during this time, as together we planted out his berry orchard, made fences for the cattle and did some forestry management work. I remember upon first meeting Bernie that I was impressed by his strong commitment to his local community and his country, to his work as an epidemiologist and by his strong connection to the land. As a (then) young Australian travelling and living in the USA, Bernie was one of a handful of Americans that I came to know well. His warm and generous character and the love of his land and country came to represent my very positive impression of the USA and its people. It was therefore with great distress that I learned of his criminal charges, and I have followed his situation with increasing concern for his welfare over the ensuing years.

I am literally shedding tears as I write this letter to you, as the thought of Bernie losing his farm and undergoing any further punishment is hard to conceive. He has already lost so much; his professional reputation, his loss of livelihood, financial ruin, and doing time in the half way house; he has already suffered so much.

Judge Haynes, I hope and pray that you can pass judgement on this man whilst considering these things that I have said. This genuinely kind and gentle man has suffered enough, justice has been served. He deserves to live in peace and quiet on his farm in the hollow, where heart and soul belongs.

With kind regards..
And finally, from a neighbor, friend and survivor of someone I helped

Dear Judge Haynes,

My name is C___. I was married to A___ for 24 years.

A___ worked hard all of his life. Then, in the prime of his life, he was struck down with kidney disease. He also had high blood pressure, which was unknown to both him and me. Seemingly overnight, A___ lost function in both of his kidneys. His doctors hospitalized him immediately, put shunts in his chest and started dialysis the next day.

The dialysis pulled A___ down to the point that he couldn't work, where he lost his appetite and where he lost interest in life itself. He couldn't eat and keep his food down as a result of all the medicines he was on. A___'s health just continued to go down and his blood pressure stayed too high, no matter what medications he took.

At that time, I spoke to Bernie about helping A___ with medical marijuana. We spoke with A___'s doctors at Centennial about whether A___ should use it. The doctors said that A___ should do whatever was necessary to get him to eat and grow stronger. I asked them whether A___ would stay on the transplant list if he used marijuana. They said that they would keep him on the transplant list if A___ started using medical marijuana. As it was, they said that he was too weak to survive the surgery, so if the marijuana helped him improve, he should use it.

A___ started smoking the marijuana that Bernie gave him then and his appetite came back. His blood pressure went down and he began to feel more like a man. Using the marijuana made A___ feel like doing some things he couldn't do before. It gave him back his pride and a quality of life that he had not had for two years.

I am thankful for Bernie's help. He was a blessing in our life, coming at its lowest point. The comfort that Bernie's marijuana gave A___, and his renewed pride in life, was something I could not do. I loved my husband dearly but having pride in himself wasn't something I could give him.

My love, support and prayers were answered when the Lord put Bernie Ellis in our path. He was a blessing in our life. I feel I owe Bernie a debt of gratitude I cannot repay, because he gave my husband quality of life. Bernie couldn't help with quantity but quality is so important when your days are numbered. A___ finally got a transplant but we got a bad kidney that p
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