MIAMI (CBS4) – More than three dozen people being held in Miami-Dade were given ‘get out of jail free’ cards Wednesday after a judge dropped the drug charges against them.
On August 17th, Miami-Dade circuit court Judge Milton Hirsch dismissed the possession charges against 39 people declaring the charges illegal based on a federal court ruling earlier this year. However he stayed his order for a week to give the state time to appeal to the Third District Court of Appeals.READ MORE: 120 Opa-locka Residents Return Home After Gas Explosion At Apartment Complex
Wednesday morning Judge Hirsch announced that the 39 case would we thrown out.
“Judge just let a lot of people’s cases go and mine too and that made me happy. I guess from my previous background and cases I’ve been through and worked with the system. It’s a blessed day for me. He freed a lot of people today. Everybody was happy to be free,” said 57-year old Robert Washington.
Last July, U.S. Judge Mary S. Scriven struck down the state’s drug laws based on a 2002 change to the drug statutes. In 2002, the state legislature eliminated the “mens rea,” or “guilty mind” requirement as a part of a drug offense.
Scriven laid out a scenario that said if a student hid his cocaine in his friend’s backpack without telling him, then the owner of the backpack is guilty even if he didn’t know it was there. Scriven said the 2002 Florida law is “repugnant to the common law.”READ MORE: Police Investigate Double Shooting In NW Miami-Dade
“A lot of cases that they had didn’t make sense. They try to make a criminal out of you. I’m not as bad as they thought I was. You can be at the wrong place at the wrong time and they just harass you,” said Washington. “Sometime you get caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time and they just get you. I’m disabled and lost one of my eyesight and I’m trying to get my life back in order. I just need a little help and I’m going in the right way and tell my kids. This is a joyful day, one of my best days.”
“We got our grant motion on our case and there’s a lot of false accusations and that’s why a judge granted a good motion. It’s been about two or three months and that’s my first felony. I’m glad he did grant it. That would have messed me up a lot, a lot. I’m 22 right now. I have a long future ahead of me and I’m glad this ain’t affecting my future,” said 22-year old Anthony Fair who was also freed. “I have nothing on my record. I’m a mechanic but I lost [my job] at the time of this case and then I hope my manager who fired me sees this and hires me back.”
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office took issue when Judge Hirsch decided to dismiss the charges last week.
“An uninterrupted line of well established precedents from both the Florida Supreme Court and the District Courts of Appeal reflects in no uncertain terms that the trial courts in this State are bound by the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court and not lower federal courts,” said Ed Griffith of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office at the time.MORE NEWS: CDC Issues New Covid-19 Guidance For The Holiday Season
Not all judges in Miami-Dade’s criminal courthouse agree with Hirsch’s decision to dismiss. Judge Jorge Cueto has not dismissed drug possession charges in his courtroom, even as defense attorneys have made similar arguments on behalf of their clients.