Wednesday, March 22, 2017


A number of over zealously prosecuted synthetic marijuana drug cases brought by the Justice Department based on faulty laboratory and DNA evidence are finally being undermined with expert testimony from the combined efforts of federal defense lawyers around the country. By working together attorneys were able to anticipate the best argument that federal prosecutors would make in trial and effectively rebut them with experts. 
A sympathetic
Synthetic Marijuana Producer

Some cases are won at trial, but most victories are the result of very hard work before trial. The defense team in this case looked at over 1,100 federal designer drug cases and logged the accumulated evidence of every DEA agent and expert who testified in those cases. As one would expect our federal government over-reached going well beyond current scientific knowledge and even giving jurors contradictory evidence to win convictions where necessary in many of those cases. 

Congratulations to the lawyers for their fine victory and let's thank them for making their trove of information in these cases available to all of us (see below for information on how to access it). Here's a summary from Zay Thompson the lead investigator on the case who also deserves a lot of credit for the two not guilty verdicts in these drug cases based on his hard work.

On behalf of lead attorney Branden Bell and the rest of the defense team, I am very happy to announce that we won an acquittal for our client Craig Broombaugh and his co-defendant Terrie Adams who were charged with one count of Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances and Controlled Substance Analogues and one count of Mail Fraud. The chemicals in question were synthetic cannabinoids, substituted cathinones, and miscellaneous designer psychedelics. Both co-defendants worked for The Outer Edge, a large distributor of these substances.

Our client's nightmare began when the DEA raided The Outer Edge in 2012 and intensified when he was indicted in 2014. The prosecutor tried to pressure him to plead guilty by alleging a user of these products suffered serious bodily injury (20 year mandatory minimum). All the other co-defendants pled, including the company co-owners.

We're sharing this win, not just to celebrate an extremely rare win in this area of the law, but also to contribute to the body of defense knowledge in these cases and from which we benefitted. This victory would not be possible without:
  • The fierce defense in the Ilan Fedida/Timothy Hummel case in Florida that first identified an initial group of scientists to push back on the DEA science of convenience and uncovered DEA Chemist Arthur Berrier's dissenting opinion.
  • The many attempts around the country to bring in Arthur Berrier to testify that were instructive in shaping our successful attempt. We intend to move to unseal and order transcripts of his testimony and that of his supervisor Jeffrey Comparin. 
  • The folks who got James Felman and Dr. Gregory Dudley to present "Litigating Synthetic Drug Cases" at the National Seminar for Federal Defenders in 2014. 
  • The Ira Stockton Daubert hearing victory in New Mexico that caused our judge to order a second Daubert hearing so that the DEA scientists could testify (He did not require the government to bring their scientists to the first hearing so only our experts testified then). Our judge ruled that the DEA pharmacologist could only testify about stimulant. hallucinogenic, or depressant effects on the human central nervous system. 
  • The 10 Circuit opinion in the Iqbal Makkar case of out of Oklahoma and the Texas District Court ruling in the Barry Bays case that limited the DEA pharmacologist's use of scary (but irrelevant) reports of injuries and overdoses as evidence of these substances' alleged stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effects.
  • The Stephen McFadden Supreme Court opinion and, again, the 10th Circuit Makkar opinion that allowed us to present the defense that our client was an employee who thought was he was doing was legal because he was constantly told this by both his employers and their attorneys. 
  • All of you who have mounted Daubert challenges, tried to limine out prejudicial Government evidence, pounded on the DEA & DOJ's bureaucratic brick wall, and slogged through the difficult work of grasping the science with the experts and helping them translate that science into lay language, leaving behind a rich record on PACER.

During the course of this case, we've surveyed over 1100 federal designer drug cases and recorded information like disposition and drugs & experts involved. This spreadsheet is stored in a Box account administered by the AO. Also in that account are folders for every DEA and defense expert we've found associated with these cases. Their folders hold their reports, transcripts, and motions relevant to them. It is our hope that the wider defense community can also benefit from our hours of research, that it can be added to, and that more victories will occur in this extremely difficult area of federal criminal defense.. If you would like access to this information or have information to add, please email 

By freely giving us an opportunity to use the information accumulated during the defense of their client this excellent federal criminal drug case victory opens the door to future Middle District of Florida victories in federal and state criminal courts and throughout the country. 

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