Florida Mandatory Drug Testing Ruled Unconstitutional

Last March, Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered random drug testing for 80,000 state employees. On Thursday, Miami Federal District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled that the governor’s order was unconstitutional, citing lack of sufficient reasoning to execute the testing.

Judge Ungaro wrote that the governor’s order “does not identify a concrete danger to must be addressed by suspicionless drug-testing of state employees… And the governor shows no evidence of a drug use problem at the covered agencies.” However, Gov. Scott contended that, in fact, the testing is both reasonable and practical.

The governor’s office is currently facing another legal challenge in opposition to the governor’s order for mandatory drug testing of all Florida welfare applicants.

After Gov. Scott made the executive order last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and a local worker’s union filed a law suit challenging the order, arguing that the mandatory testing was illegal.

According to MN criminal defense attorney Stacy Kaye, the judge is right to require a compelling state interest before allowing this invasion of privacy.

“While employment-related drug tests are generally upheld by the courts, employees of private companies always have the option to leave their position if they fail or refuse to comply with drug tests without the possibility of facing criminal penalties. The proposed Florida law could have subjected state employees who either fail or refuse to submit to drug tests to criminal liability, which goes far beyond the possible consequences for employees of private agencies, and farther than the constitution allows, at least in the absence of a compelling state interest that justifies the invasion of privacy and bodily searches involved. Arguably this law would force people to provide evidence against themselves, and in addition, it criminalizes the using and being under the influence of drugs, which, while objectionable to many people, is in and of itself, not currently against the law (only sale or possession is).

Related Sources:

NY Times


Fairy Tale Law: Hansel and Gretel

This week, our Fairy Tale Law blog series is focusing on the story of Hansel and Gretel and the crimes of the villainous stepmother.

Hansel and Gretel live in the forest deep in the Minnesota Northwoods with their father, a woodcutter. Their mother died long ago, and their father had since remarried. Of course, the woodcutter loved his children more than anyone. This angered the second wife to no end, and she resented the children for the love and attention their father showed them.

One summer, a terrible famine fell over the land. Food was scarce for everyone in the Northwoods, but especially for the woodcutter and his family. The stepmother thought that things would be better if there were fewer mouths to feed, and so she formulated a plan to get rid of Hansel and Gretel.  The woodcutter protested, but after constant pressure and the pains of hunger, he finally agreed. They discussed the details and decided to take the children deep into the woods and leave them there to fend for themselves.

Unbeknownst to the woodcutter and his wife, Hansel and Gretel overhead the conversation.

The next morning, when the stepmother and the woodcutter brought the children deep into the forest again, Hansel grabbed a slice of bread. Throughout the trek, Hansel secretly dropped the breadcrumbs behind him.  When they were very deep in the woods, the parents abandoned them. When Hansel and Gretel tried to follow the trail of bred crumbs back out of the woods, they found that the birds had eaten the breadcrumbs and that they were hopelessly lost.

They wandered through the woods for days until they happened upon an old cottage made entirely of sweets. The children were starving, so they began to eat the gingerbread roof. An old woman opens the doors and invites the children inside with the promise of soft beds and delicious food. The children reveled in their luck that night.

However, things took a turn for the worst the next morning. The old woman–who turned out to be an evil witch–locked Hansel in an iron cage and made Gretel her house slave. The witch fed Hansel constantly to fatten him up, but because she was blind, she could not see the progress. Instead, she made him stick his finger from the cage to feel the fatness.

Clever Hansel found an old bone in the cage, and offered that to the witch every morning instead of his finger. For weeks, the witch thinks that Hansel is too thin to eat until she became too impatient and decided to eat him anyways.

While getting the oven ready, the witch decided that she was hungry enough to eat Gretel too and asked her to lean over the oven to see that the fire is hot enough. Gretel senses the witches plan, and pretends she does not know what is being asked of her. Frustrated, the witch demonstrates and Gretel promptly pushes her into the fire and closes the over door.

Gretel freed Hansel from the cage and in the witch’s house, they discovered a vast treasure trove filled with precious stones and jewels. They catch a ride on a swan back to their father’s house, where they find that the stepmother has been arrested and is in jail awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder.

In Minnesota, kidnapping is a serious felony offense. If the victim is eventually released in a safe place without great bodily harm, the offender may be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $35,000. If the victim is not released in a safe place or sustains great bodily harm during the course of the kidnapping, the offender could be sentenced to 40 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

The constitution guarantees all citizens the right to a criminal defense attorney. Everyone should exercise that right, even a villainous stepmother. If you are facing criminal charges in Minnesota, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Thizz Entertainment Rap Label Busted For Nationwide Drug Trafficking

This Thursday, San Francisco law enforcement made 25 arrests after busting a nationwide drug ring linked to the Thizz Entertainment rap label.  Federal agents seized 45,000 Ecstasy pills, 4 pounds of crack cocaine, 1/2 pound of heroin, $200,000, and 230 acres of property reportedly used as a marijuana growing operation.

According to Vallejo police lieutenant Ken Weaver, the purpose of the organization’s drug enterprise was to finance the rap label.  Multiple rappers and the CEO of the enterprise are now in custody after 4 years of federal investigation. According to a federal prosecutor, they have been charged with the nationwide distribution of Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and codeine cough syrup.

Thizz Entertainment was founded as Romp Records in the 1980s by rapper Mac Dre.  Although billed as an independent record label, authorities say that the group started as a street gang whose crimes financed the growth of the label’s budding rappers.

Mac Dre changed the name of the label to Thizz Entertainment in 1999 after he was released from a 7-year prison term. The name change was reportedly done to distance Dre and the label from the Romper Room gang, the Bay Area street gang that police say was tied to the Romp Records label.  According to the DEA, the Romper Room Gang spent the 80s and 90s robbing banks, selling drugs, and executing hired kills to provide income for Romp Records. Mac Dre and other member of the label/gang were sent to prison after police investigated many of the artists’ explicit lyrics which boasted about violent criminal exploits.

The name “Thizz Entertainment” was a play on a popular street name for Ecstasy.

Founder Mac Dre was shot and killed in 2004 while on tour in Kansas City. His associate Michael Lott was with him at the time and took over the company operations following Mac Dre’s death. In 2008, the DEA acquired a confidential informant who led them to Lott and facilitated a buy between Lott and an undercover agent. That agent ultimately infiltrated the gang for over a year until he was pulled in 2010.

Law enforcement reports that, while on tour, the label expanded its enterprise and began shipping drugs from Vallejo, California to cities as far west as New York.

Although 25 suspects have been arrested, kingpin Michael Lott and 9 others are still at large. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 4th at a Sacramento courthouse.

Nationwide, the sale of narcotics is a serious offense with serious penalties. In Minnesota, the large quantities of drugs seized in the bust would warrant the charge of First Degree Sale of a Controlled Substance.  This is a felony charge which is applicable if they sell:

  • 10 grams or more of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or any combination of the three
  • 50 grams or more of a narcotic drug other than cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine
  • 50 grams (or 200 dosage units) or more of amphetamine, phencyclidine, or hallucinogen
  • 50 kilograms or more of marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols, or 25 kilograms or more of marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols in a school zone, park, public housing zone, or drug treatment facility.

If convicted of a first-degree sale of a controlled substance violation in Minnesota, a person may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, $1,000,000 in fines, or both.

The drug allegations surrounding Thizz Entertainment are not confined to the coasts. Minnesota law enforcement routinely busts drug rings in the Twin Cities and for those implicated in the investigations, an experienced MN criminal defense attorney is crucial. An experienced attorney can spot holes in the investigation such as illegal wiretapping, illegal search and seizure, and violation of the Miranda Rights. This level of criminal defense can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Related Sources:

San Jose Mercury News


MN Criminal Sexual Conduct Case Dismissed

hennepin county courthouseThis morning MN defender Avery Appelman used his experience and expertise to get a case dismissed for a Minnesota maintenance worker charged with criminal sexual conduct.

Apartment maintenance worker, P.A. (note: client name abbreviated to protect ID) was accused of inappropriately touching a female resident while she was sleeping.  P.A. was sent to the residence with a work order to repair a door in the bedroom.  He was greeted by a woman who said he could fix what he needed to as long as he didn’t wake up her sister.  As he was working on the door, the woman woke up and began screaming at him accusing him of touching her buttocks.  He was arrested later that day, and shortly thereafter, hired the Appelman Law Firm.

Criminal defense attorney Adam Goldfine put his investigative skills to work by interviewing the woman.  The woman stated that she was asleep in bed with her daughter, that she felt someone touch her buttocks under the covers, and that she never actually saw the person who touched her nor could she rule out that the touching she felt was a result of her daughter sleeping in her bed.

Between the abundance of evidence Appelman Law Firm collected and Avery Appelman’s negotiating skills, the prosecutor ultimately decided to dismiss the case.

“The attorneys at the Appelman Law Firm were great,” says P.A. “They explained the legal process and my options throughout the case. I would definitely recommend Appelman Law Firm to anyone faced with criminal charges.”


Fairy Tale Law: Little Red Riding Hood

The story of Little Red Riding Hood has many versions, ranging from the tame to the most violent. Today, we’re going to tell our own version of the classic tale and explore the relationship to Minnesota criminal conduct laws.

One day, a beautiful woman named Red Riding Hood set off through the forest to visit her ailing grandmother. As she is walking, Little Red is spotted by a big, bad, lecherous wolf.

When the wolf sees Little Red, his eyes light up and he makes up his mind to force himself on her. However, the woods are full of forest animals and the wolf doesn’t want any witnesses. So, he approaches Red and asks her where she is going. Naively, Red told the wolf that she was headed to her grandmother’s house and then gave him directions.

As a distraction, the wolf suggested to Red that she pick some wildflowers for her grandmother. She agreed and, having successfully stalled Red, the wolf ran ahead to the grandmother’s house.

When he got there, the wolf knocked down the door, hit the old woman over the head with a pipe, then locked her in the attic. He then dressed himself as the grandmother and crawled into bed to wait.

When Red got to the house, she went inside and noticed that something wasn’t right about her grandmother. “Oh Granny,” she said, “What long fur you have!” The wolf replied, “All the better to keep you warm, my dear.”  Then Red said “Oh Granny, what big hands you have!” and the wolf, sensing his opportunity and Red’s vulnerability, screamed “ALL THE BETTER TO TOUCH YOU WITH!”

The wolf jumped out of bed, tackled Red, and forced her to have sex with him. At this point, the commotion roused the unconscious grandmother, who  calls the police from the closet.

When the police arrived, they hauled the wolf away and charged him with the following crimes:

Assault in the First Degree: When the wolf hit Granny with the pipe, he inflicted great bodily harm. Assault in the first degree is a felony in Minnesota. If convicted, the wolf could receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or $20,000 in fines.

Burglary in the First Degree: Because the wolf broke into Granny’s house with the intention of committing a crime, he was charged with burglary in the first degree. This is a felony charge and the wolf can face up to 20 years in prison and/or $35,000 in fines.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree: The wolf used considerable force and threat of harm while raping Red, so he may be charged with felony aggravated sexual assault. This is a very serious charge in Minnesota and if convicted, the wolf could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $40,000.

Burglary, assault, and sexual assault are all extremely serious crimes in Minnesota that carry extremely serious consequences. For the big bad wolf, or anyone charged with one of these crimes, it is absolutely imperative that they retain an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.

Stay tuned as we retell more classic fairy tales in our Fairy Tale Law blog series.


Shlomi Nissim



Georgia Kindergartner Hauled Away in Handcuffs: Examining the MN Juvenile Justice System

Police in Milledgeville, Georgia are in the middle of a national debate after handcuffing a 6-year-old who was throwing a temper tantrum–and defending their decision to do so.  Today, MN criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman weighs in on the conversation and provides valuable insight into the Minnesota juvenile court system.

When kindergartner Salecia Johnson began tearing items off the walls and tossing around furniture on Friday, the school called the police for assistance. According to the Milledgeville PD, the girl resisted the officer’s attempts to calm her down in the principal’s office and threw a shelf at the principal’s leg.

According to Baldwin County Superintendent Geneva Braziel,  “The Milledgeville police department was ultimately called to assist due to safety concerns for the student, other classmates and the school staff.”  Selicia was subsequently placed in heavy-duty steel handcuffs and taken away by police.

When Selicia’s aunt Candace Ruff picked her up from the police station, she says that the 6-year-old was being kept in a holding cell and “She said that [the handcuffs] were really tight. She said they hurt her wrists…She was so shaken up when we went there to pick her up.” Ruff expressed her contention, calling Selicia’s ordeal “horrifying” and “devastating”. Ruff went on to say that while her niece may have misbehaved, “I don’t think she misbehaved to the point where she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department… She has mood swings some days… I guess that was just one of her bad days.”

Selicia Johnson’s parents told the media that since Friday’s incident, Selicia has been having nightmares, for which she must now receive medical attention.

Milledgeville Interim Police chief Dray Swicord has announced that “Our policy is that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back. There is no age discrimination on that rule.”

This incident has sparked intense debate nationwide about the use of police intervention in school disciplinary action. According to juvenile authorities, this type of action is being used more with young students and more as zero tolerance policies in schools are prompting educators to call police to deal with minor interruptions.

Initially, Selicia was to be charged with juvenile assault and criminal damage to property. However, Milledgeville police have ultimately decided not to file charges against the 6-year-old due to her age. According to MN criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman, filing charges against Selicia would be blatantly ignoring years of precedent which say that children cannot form intent at such a young age:

“Although I can see an argument for restraining a child who is clearly out of control, steel handcuffs are certainly out of line.  But what really stands out is that, at least in the Minnesota legal system, charging anyone with simple assault requires a person to ‘[commit] an act with intent to cause fear,’ or ‘intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm.’ This was an emotional 6-year-old girl throwing a tantrum, not a violent predator.  Likewise, criminal damage to property requires that a person ‘intentionally causes damage to physical property of another without… consent.’  It is typically understood that children must be at least 7-years-old to be considered able form ‘intent’, but even after the age of 7, the State generally needs to overcome an extremely high burden to prove intent in children.

In Minnesota, defendants under the age of 18 are treated as juveniles in the justice system–but only after the age of 10.  If a child is younger than 10, such as 6-year-old Selicia Johnson, the case is dealt with in juvenile court as a child in need of protection or services. The case would be considered a social-services matter and would typically involve assessment of the child’s mental and physical health.

Minors facing criminal charges in Minnesota experience a host of challenges unique to the MN juvenile court system. These cases require an experience and compassion. If you are facing juvenile criminal charges in Minnesota, contact a MN juvenile criminal defense attorney right away.

Related Sources:

Associated Press


News 4 Georgia


MN Police to Crack Down on Distracted Driving this Thursday

distracted driving mnThis Thursday, MN state law enforcement will be cracking down on distracted driving.

Distracted driving contributes to roughly 25% of car accidents annually, according to the state. Teenagers are the most prominent offenders. In 2009, the NHTSA reported that 16% of teen traffic fatalities involved distracted driving.

The crackdown is made possible by a $50,000 federal grant. More than 400 law enforcement agencies are participating.

Distracted driving can include many things, but is usually tied to texting while driving. Under MN law, the following distracted driving acts are illegal:


  • A driver reading, composing, or sending text messages or emails
  • A driver accessing the internet on a smartphone or other wireless device (while the car is moving, or stopped at a light)
  • Drivers under 18 may not used a cell phone at any time while driving


A ticket for distracted driving usually runs around $100, depending on where you are in the state.

“With smart phones becoming more and more popular, law enforcement officials and legislators are taking a harder stance on distracted driving,” says defense lawyer, Adam Goldfine. “It’s easy to judge a person’s guilt on what their vehicle is doing. It’s much more difficult to prove illegal activity based on a driver’s actions inside the vehicle. As a result, police often have to use circumstantial evidence to ticket someone for distracted driving.”


Related Sources:



Fairy Tale Law: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

On Monday, we explored the story of the Three Little Pigs and the criminal charges which could be brought against the violent, villanous Big Bad Wolf. This week we are recounting the tale of Goldilocks, a mischievous little girl who gets herself into trouble with a family of bears. Unlike the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks is neither violence nor particularly malevolent. However, her mischief could still leave her facing some hefty charges and in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Our story begins with a cottage deep in the Fairy Tale woods. This little house is inhabited by a family of three gentle bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. They keep a tidy, orderly house and each bear has its own porridge bowl, chair, and bed–each sized appropriately. One day, when the Three Bears were away from the house, a mischievous little girl named Goldilocks wandered off into the woods. There, she came upon the little house and peeked in the window. After seeing that the house was empty, she let herself inside.

First, Goldilocks went into the kitchen, where three bowls of fresh porridge were sitting out on the table. Feeling a little hungry, Goldilocks tried the porridge from the biggest bowl, but it was far too hot. She then sampled the porridge from the second bowl, but it was far too cold. Deciding to give it one last try, Goldilocks tried the porridge from the smallest bowl and decided it was just right. Goldilocks wanted to sit down to finish the porridge, so she  sat down in the smallest chair, the chair belonging to Baby Bear. However, Goldilocks was a bit on the porky side and broke the chair into pieces.

All this activity made the impish little blonde very tired, so she decided to take a nap in one of the beds. After trying out all three beds, Goldilocks decided that Baby Bear’s bed was the perfect size, so she lay down and quickly fell fast asleep.

Soon after, the Bears returned home from their outing and were very hungry. Papa Bear and Mama Bear saw their bowls on the table and exclaimed, “Someone has been eating my porridge!” When poor baby bear saw his bowl, he cried out “Someone has eaten all of my porridge and broken my chair!” Realizing that they had been victims of an intruder, the Three Bear ventured upstairs. Papa and Mama Bear saw that their beds had been mussed and exclaimed “Someone has been sleeping in our beds!” Then Baby Bear looked over to his bed and, seeing Goldilocks, announced “There she is!”

Frightened, Goldilocks jumped up and ran from the house. The Three Bears, being reasonable mammals, called the Fairy Tale Police. Goldilocks was soon arrested.

Goldilocks entered the dwelling without consent with the intent of committing a crime. While she was in the house, the Three Bears returned home. Because of these conditions, Goldilocks was charged with Burglary in the First Degree. This is a felony charge and Goldilocks could be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 20 years or a fine of up to $35,000.

Goldilocks broke Baby Bear’s chair, which was handcrafted by elves and very valuable. It would cost the Bears over $500 to replace the chair, so Goldilocks was charged with Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree. For this, Goldilocks could receive a sentence of up to 5 years or a five of up to $10,000.

Goldilocks ate the Bears’ porridge. Although the porridge is not especially valuable, this is still considered a crime. Goldilocks was charged with Misdemeanor Theft  which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.

The charges faced by Goldilocks were very serious, so she decided to use her right to an attorney and contacted MN criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman.

The Appelman Law Firm is well versed in the laws of Minnesota property crimes, as well as the juvenile justice system. If you have been charged with any property crimes in Minnesota, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.  Stay tuned as we continue our Fairy Tale Law blog series.

Kindergartner Brings Dad’s Heroin to Show-And-Tell

A Connecticut man is being held on $100,000 bail after his 5-year-old stepson brought 50 packets of heroin for his kindergarten show-and-tell. 35-year-old Santos Roman was arrested on risk of injury to minor and drug charges.

The kindergartner wore his father’s jacket to school that day. He discovered the drugs when he reached into the pocket. According to Bridgeport police spokesman Keith Bryant, when it was time for classroom show-and-tell, he opened the jacket to reveal the packets of heroin.

Shortly after, Roman came to the school in a panic and began looking for his stepson. According to police, he saw his jacket hanging in an empty classroom, grabbed it, and ran out of the school. However, Bridgeport police had already seized the drugs. When Roman discovered that the heroin was missing, he returned to the school where he was arrested and taken into custody.

Based on the quantity of heroin, Roman could be charged with possession with intent to sell. In Minnesota, this is a felony fourth-degree drug offense that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Because his young stepson became involved, it is possible that a judge wouldn’t show any leniency in sentencing.  If you are facing any drug crimes in Minnesota, call an experienced MN criminal defense attorney immediately.

Related Sources:


Connecticut Post