Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero Meet With Detainee Roger Christie at Federal Detention Center

At 8:00am today, Senator Russell Ruderman, joined by Senator Will Espero, met with federal detainee Roger Christie at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Honolulu to discuss his incarceration, health, and rights as a United States citizen under the United States Constitution. Mr. Christie has been held now for almost three years without a bail hearing or a trial.

Senator Espero and Ruderman at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu

Senator Espero and Ruderman at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu

After weeks of requests and assurances, the U.S. Attorney’s Office granted permission for Senator Ruderman, representing Christie’s district, and Senator Espero, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, to visit Mr. Christie at the FDC in Honolulu with restrictions, including that no media shall be present. Mr. Christie has not been allowed to meet with media despite requests from National Geographic, Newsweek and Honolulu Civil Beat among many others.

In June of 2010, Mr. Christie, along with twelve co-defendants, was charged with manufacture, possession with intent to sell marijuana. The other defendants have been released on bail pending trial. Prior to the detention hearing, Mr. Christie was interviewed by the Office of Pretrial Services and on July 13, 2010, Pretrial Services issued a report that recommended that Mr. Christie be released on an unsecured bond of $50,000.

In the almost three years since that recommendation, all efforts to have Mr. Christie released pending trial or have access to a speedy trial have been denied. Visitations have been severely limited by the FDC including those by his wife Share Christie, who has not been allowed to see her husband for almost a year. In recent weeks, additional charges have been added, and his trial postponed once again.

While the charges against Mr. Christie are federal in nature, holding a defendant without bail, while denying his/her constitutional right to a speedy trial is virtually unheard of in our state. Even those accused of serious crimes such as large-scale distribution of ice, violent criminals, rapists, and murderers are routinely released on bail pending trial.

To urge President Obama and the Federal Government to release Mr. Christie pending a hearing, Senator Ruderman authored two measures – Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 and Senate Resolution 42 – both of these measures have been passed by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs.

Mr. Christie explained that he is content with the position he is in because he feels he is doing the right thing and looks forward to proving his innocence in a court of law, saying, “Dignity trumps longevity.”

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero expressed their concern for Mr. Christie, the violation of his Constitutional rights, and the implications for all persons facing non-violent federal charges and deemed dangerous by the federal judicial system, such has been the case for Mr. Christie since July 2010.

Senator Ruderman said, “I have known Roger for over 25 years. He is one of the most peaceful persons I know. To anyone who knows him, the claim that he is a danger to the community is absurd.”

Senator Espero commented. “This visit was very enlightening. I still feel that Mr. Christie should be released pending a trial.”

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero would like to graciously thank FDC Warden David Shinn, Asst. Warden Tom Blumm, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara, and Public Defender Thomas Otake, for their assistance and for the opportunity to meet with Roger Christie.


6 Responses

  1. “In a motion filed last month in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, federal attorneys argued the benefits of extending the trial date to July outweighed Christie’s and other defendants’ right to a speedy trial for several reasons, including that the case is “so complex” because of “the existence of novel questions of fact or law (specifically, those dealing with RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself within the time limits established by the Speedy Trial Act.””

    Using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as an excuse to nullify the Speedy Trial Act certainly amounts to malfeasance by federal attorneys, effectively disintegrating the credibility of a court that condones such blatant illogic. Applying the same logic used by prosecutors, to the complexity that Reverend Roger faces in having to defend the First Amendment, his wife and himself against an unobjective federal policy that is so politically prejudiced, unreasoned and corrupt demands his immediate release.

    By contrast with the disingenuity of the court, Reverend and Mrs. Christie have demonstrated their religious integrity and sincerity by enduring two years and nine months of imprisonment-without-trial-or-bail, without caving under threats, plea deals and denial of visits. The credibility of The Hawaii’i Cannabis Ministry has been forged and hardened in the fire of indefinite, coercive imprisonment, in the historical tradition of spiritual strength and patriotism reminiscent of William Penn.

    In Hawai’i, where marijuana law enforcement is directly and knowingly responsible for causing a meth epidemic, [1,2] Reverend Christie is as critically essential in defending his community against the rabid “drug war” as the healing plant he stands for. Cannabis is too valuable to be within the rightful jurisdiction of any court and Reverend Christie must be returned to his ohana immediately. Anything less means the dysfunction of our species will consume us sooner than later.


    Paul von Hartmann
    Cannabis scholar
    California Cannabis Ministry
    6 April 2013

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