Deadline for letters extended until June 15, 2000.

Please help keep me 
out of federal prison
by writing a letter to the judge


My name is Peter McWilliams. I am a cancer survivor living with AIDS. I was arrested in July 1998 on federal medical marijuana charges, even though I live in California, a state that approved medical marijuana use in 1996.

In November 1999, the federal prosecutors successfully obtained an order prohibiting me from mentioning to the jury that I have AIDS, that marijuana is medicine, that the federal government supplies eight patients with medical marijuana each month, or that California has a law permitting the very act that I was accused of violating.

As I never denied my medical marijuana cultivation, that left me with no defense whatsoever. To avoid an almost certain guilty verdict and a ten-year mandatory-minimum sentence, I pled guilty to a lesser charge. (The whole story is at www.petertrial.com) My sentencing for this charge will be in May 2000. The deadline for turning in letters of support is April 1, 2000.

Would you please take the time to send a letter, or a fax, or even an e-mail, to the judge on my behalf? It would make all the difference in my world.

The letter need not be long or eloquent. One sentence is sufficient. 

The judge can sentence me to 0 to 5 years. The federal sentencing guidelines place my recommended (but not mandatory) sentence in the 5-year range. It is probably unavoidable that I get a sentenced to some time -- perhaps the full five years. 

What I am asking the judge -- and what I am asking you to ask the judge -- is that I be able to serve my sentence under "home detention," also known as "electronic monitoring." (An electronic transmitter would be permanently fastened to my ankle and my whereabouts would be monitored 24 hours a day. I would not be able to leave my home except for medical or court appointments. As I live in Los Angeles, this will allow me to write my books, including Galileo LA.)

In writing the Judge King, please observe these commonsense guidelines:


1. Please do not give your opinion of the War on Drugs (unless you're in favor of it), how the government treated me in this case (unless you approve), your views on medical marijuana (unless you're against it), or anything else critical of the status quo. Save those remarks, however well-reasoned and accurate, for letters-to-the-editor. Letters with such comments cannot be given to the judge. If he shows me mercy, it may seem he is agreeing with the letters critical to the War on Drugs. I cannot cannot afford to put him in that position as he will be forced to sentence me according to federal guidelines in my case -- five years in prison.

2. Please be respectful. The judge owes me, or you, nothing. You are asking for a favor. When Judge King was asked to allow me to use medical marijuana while out on bail, he said to the attorneys on both sides, in a voice trembling with compassion, "I am struggling mightily with this. Please, struggle with me." Alas, there was nothing in federal law that permitted him to allow me to break federal law, even to save my life, but I believed the sincerity of his struggle. Personally, I don't want judges rewriting law as they see fit. Judge King is a good judge upholding a bad law. My sentence, however, is at his discretion. I believe he will be fair, that he will read the letter you send, and he will be moved by your heartfelt request. I believe we owe courtesy to the King.

3. Please focus on my health (www.petertrial.com/undetectable.htm) and my contributions to society (through my books www.mcwilliams.com) as reasons why I should receive home detention or electronic monitoring (the term can be used interchangeably). The legal arguments will be made by my attorney.

4. If you know me, please say so, and state any positive character traits you may have noticed wafting by from time to time. 

5. If you have read any of my books, please say so. If they helped you, please say how. (Exception: Please do not mention "Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do." See point 1.)

6. If you can, please keep the letter to one page, and no longer than two.

Actual letters (those things made popular in the last millennium, printed on paper, put into envelopes, and sent through the Post Office) are best. Typed is better, but handwritten is fine. Please use the most impressive letterhead to which you have legitimate access. (Your business stationery is better than your personal stationery, for example.) If you don't have stationery, you can  create a letterhead on any word processor in about two minutes.

Please address the letters to:

"The Honorable George H. King"

and begin the letter:

"Dear Judge King,"

Please mail the letters TO ME at:

Peter McWilliams
8148 Mannix Drive
Los Angeles, California 90046

If you know you're probably not going to get around to writing a letter (and I know just how you feel -- I don't know where to find an envelope any more, much less a stamp -- please send a fax (signed, on letterhead, if possible, but if not, that's fine) to:


If you think you might not get around to sending a fax, please send an e-mail. Please write at the bottom of the e-mail "You have my permission to reformat this letter, print it, and sign my name at the bottom." Your name will be signed for you, next to which will be the initials of the person signing it. Please include a complete mailing address.

The e-mail address is peter@mcwilliams,com

Finally, please circulate this request as widely as you can -- post it on bulletin boards, send it to receptive people on your e-mail list, send it out in newsletters. Kindly use your creativity, but, please, no spamming.

If you cannot post the entire message of this missive, the online address of this request is www.petertrial.com/letters.htm.

Thank you from the bottom of my weary but very grateful heart.


Peter McWilliams