by Rick Thompson
CADILLAC- All charges against Don Koshmider were dismissed.
That's the short version of the story. The long version involves raids, prosecutors, politically-charged motives and actions by law enforcement that are not supported by the communities they claim to protect.
"I feel fantastic!" Don told me, in an exclusive TCC interview.
"As Don's attorney I can say we were prepared at the preliminary exam to present a defense to the charges," said criminal defense attorney Josh Covert, who represented Koshmider in court. "The prosecution was not prepared to hold the hearing and really had no choice but to dismiss the charges for now."
Koshmider has been an active figure in Michigan's marijuana movement for several years. He was vocal and visible in Gaylord during the multiple protests held there to oppose a series of raids on medical marijuana distribution centers. Koshmider helped with the petition drive to enact an ordinance in that community to authorize the Centers.
He has also been a proponent of both the MILegalize and Abrogate petition drives to place the adult use of marijuana on the ballot in Michigan during 2016.
He had his own medical marijuana Center in Cadillac. It was raided in July.
"I've maintained my innocence," Koshmider said. "I feel this 'raid' and arrest was DEFINITELY politically motivated against myself and other loudmouth activists!"
Prior to the raid, Otsego county prosecutor Mike Rola was vehement on pursuing marijuana cases like those Gaylord area raids- even when they involve sick people and secret sneaky controlled buys of medical marijuana from distribution centers. Coincidentally, while the prosecution was planning their case, Rola lost his bid for reelection to the Prosecutor position, due largely to the negative press he received surrounding the raids on Gaylord area dispensaries.
In Wexford County, where the raid on Koshmider's place was carried out, the prosecutor was very public about his attack on medical marijuana patients. His name is Anthony Badovinac, and he was also defeated in the August primary elections. Fighting medical marijuana patients is not a popular sport in Michigan.
Those defeats may have led to the prosecution being unprepared to fight Koshmider's case. We'll never know.
Covert knew this case might be decided favorably, even before Rola and Badovinac were beaten in their August primary elections. "We already overcame our first hurdle when the judge allowed Don to medicate while on bond," added Covert.
"Strike at the shepherd and the sheep will scatter," said Koshmider, in reference to the public relations campaign that helped defeat those prosecutors in the primary elections.
"The judge allowed him to medicate and indicated that she would do so next time if charges reappear," said Covert.
It is possible for the prosecutor's office to reissue charges against Koshmider; because there was no jury verdict, there is no double jeopardy danger in re-trying the case.
"If Don is recharged we will again be ready to go," Covert promised.
Koshmiser said it best: "We're all in this together."