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
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:
FIRST POINT IS VITAL!
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
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
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:
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.