Case 2011CR4456: The People of the State of Colorado v. John Vanhorne
In this case, Attorney Attorney defended an individual who was an offsite medical marijuana grower after his facility was raided through the use of a Colorado State Court authorized search warrant sought by representatives of the Denver police Department.
The affidavit for the Search Warrant set forth what initially seemed to be significant Probable Cause in favor of the issuance of the search warrant. The Affidavit specifically stated the location of the establishment and that emitting from the establishment was a very strong smell of marijuana. It went on to describe the sound of high-output running fans, high electrical usage, existence of clay balls used to grow marijuana, and what seemed to be marijuana residue in a neighboring trash area. The affidavit even cited an anonymous citizen informant who claimed that the establishment was an illegal marijuana grow facility. Vanhorne was subsequently charged with a Class III felony–which would mean four to sixteen years in prison–for unlawful Manufacturing and Distribution of a Controlled Substance and Cultivation of Marijuana. The warrant caused several hundred marijuana plants and a sizable amount of growing and manufacturing equipment to be seized.
Marks and his defense team filed a Motion to Suppress on the grounds that the searching authority had not sufficiently proved that the growing facility was in fact illegal, given the guidelines laid out by the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code. The searching authority had not managed to eliminate the possibility that Vanhorne’s facility was, in fact, a legal medical marijuana-growing establishment before they searched the facility and seized his plants and equipment. Thus, their warrant was potentially without Probable Cause, raising the prospect that the search was in fact illegal. Marks’ position was that the search resulting from the warrant was invalidated due to the failure to establish probable cause, therefore, nothing found as a result of the execution of the warrant could be used in court. In direct response to the issues raised by Marks regarding the potential illegality of the warrant, the District Attorney offered the Defendant immediate sentencing which included a plea to a Deferred Judgment, that upon completion, will result in all charges against Vanhorne being dismissed. The District attorney also stipulated to the dismissal of other drug related charges.