Montana Supreme Court justice coins rhyming legal caveat for drug dealers

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James Shea

Montana Supreme Court Justice James Shea

A Montana Supreme Court justice coined a legal caveat for drug dealers in an opinion that found no double jeopardy bar to a state prosecution for drug possession.

The Missoulian has a story on Justice James Shea’s May 30 opinion (PDF), which included pop culture references and a rhyming summary of his holding.

Shea ruled against Bruce Anthony Glass, who contended his guilty plea to a federal drug conspiracy charge foreclosed state drug possession charges. Glass cited the state’s statutory ban on double jeopardy, which bars a state prosecution if it arises out of the same transaction as a federal conviction or acquittal.

Shea said the possession charge is a distinct criminal offense that can be prosecuted by the state.

“‘Don’t get high on your own supply’ is a long-established rule of the drug trade,” Shea wrote. “To that rule, we now add the legal caveat: ‘Don’t get high on your own supply, cause double jeopardy don’t apply.’”

Shea footnoted his drug trade rule with references to an episode of the television show “The Wire,” the 1983 movie “Scarface,” and releases by rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and N.W.A.

Shea also footnoted his rhyming legal caveat. “Grammar intentionally sacrificed at the altar of poetic license,” he wrote.

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