MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – A lawyer whose marijuana possession case triggered debate over Vermont’s drug laws would get a two-month law license suspension under a recommendation by a Vermont Supreme Court disciplinary counsel. Now, a three-member Vermont Professional Responsibility Board will decide whether to accept or reject the finding in the case of Martha Davis, 61, of Windsor.

Davis, an attorney and part-time family court judge, was arrested last October after game wardens responding to her complaint about a dead deer on her property discovered 2 pounds of marijuana and 34 plants on her property.

Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand – an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana possession – reduced the charges to misdemeanors and recommended her for court diversion, which triggered a political firestorm and criticism that Davis got special treatment because she is a lawyer.

An outraged Gov. Jim Douglas responded by ordering Vermont State Police to skirt Sand and send major marijuana cases to the state for prosecution. He later rescinded the order.

Typically, marijuana cases involving that much pot result in six-month law license suspensions. But Davis’ medical problems – she suffers from migraine headaches and an inflammatory condition – and her otherwise unblemished record mitigated for something less, according to Beth DeBernardi, deputy disciplinary counsel for the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board.

Her physician, Dr. Alicia Zbehlik, of Windsor, vouched for Davis in a letter to the board, saying she may have been using pot to cope with symptoms and curb the side effects from other medications.

She has headaches that bring her to the point of nausea, struggles with oral medication and suffers from polymyalgia rheumatica, according to Zbehlik.

“Ms. Davis has chronic pain in her arms and legs due to PMR, diagnosed in 2004,” Zbehlik wrote.

Davis, who told a drug counselor as part of her court diversion contract, grew her own and never bought or sold the drug, according to Tim Hebert, a drug and alcohol counselor in Windsor.

He tested her for marijuana use in January and she passed, according to Hebert, who said in a document filed with the Office of Professional Responsibility that Davis said she hadn’t smoked any since it had been found on her property.

“The nature of her arrest, having her house completely searched by the police and resulting publicity from this case has been embarrassing for her, and she never wants to experience anything like this again,” wrote Hebert.



Information from: Rutland Herald, http://www.rutlandherald.com/

AP-ES-04-19-08 1036EDT


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