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  1. Alfa

    A federal judge has taken over jurisdiction of a case that grew out of
    a federal narcotics agent's refusal to return a Hayden man's
    confiscated marijuana.

    U.S. District Judge Walker Miller on Tuesday moved the
    contempt-of-court case from Routt County Court in Steamboat Springs to
    his Denver court. The case will decide if federal narcotics agents can
    be held in contempt of court for disobeying state court orders.

    In October, federal agents raided the apartment of Don Nord, 57, who
    has a valid Colorado medical marijuana registry card allowing him to
    smoke the drug legally to alleviate pain from cancer, phlebitis and
    diabetes. One Drug Enforcement Administration agent and five local law
    enforcement officers confiscated marijuana plants, loose marijuana,
    and growing and smoking paraphernalia.

    Subsequently, Nord's attorney, Kristopher Hammond, showed Routt County
    Judge James Garrecht a copy of Nord's registry card. The district
    attorney's office refused to file charges against Nord, and Garrecht
    ordered the agents to return the paraphernalia and 2 ounces of
    marijuana, the amount Nord can possess legally.

    The agents returned all but the marijuana. DEA agent Doug Cortinovis
    argued that marijuana is contraband under federal law and that his job
    is to enforce only federal laws. (Colorado allows the use of marijuana
    by authorized patients, but federal law still forbids it.)

    Hammond then filed a motion to hold Cortinovis in contempt. Garrecht
    issued a citation and ordered Cortinovis to argue why he shouldn't be
    held in contempt.

    The U.S. attorney's office quickly asked that the case be sent to
    federal court, which Miller granted. He cited a U.S. Supreme Court
    ruling that the chief purpose of one section of U.S. law is "to
    prevent federal officers who simply comply with a federal duty from
    being punished by a state court. ..."

    The U.S. attorney's office has filed a motion that the case be
    dismissed by Miller. Miller has given Nord's attorney until March 29

    to file arguments why it shouldn't be.


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