The case of Chris Bartkowicz, whose Highlands Ranch marijuana crop was seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration after he showed it off to 9News, instantly fired up the medical marijuana industry, with advocate Rob Corry going toe to toe with the DEA's Jeffrey Sweetin -- and even Congressman Jared Polis getting into the act.
Now, a new twist. Bartkowicz is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court tomorrow, likely to change his previous not-guilty plea to guilty. But yesterday, his attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri, who talked about the conflict between federal law and the Colorado constitution in this February blog and wrote an eloquent brief on the topic accessible here, filed a motion to continue the change of plea hearing.
The document, whose text appears below, makes this request because, "Notwithstanding considerable and repeated effort, undersigned counsel has been unable to contact the Defendant for purposes of reviewing both the Plea Agreement and the Defendant's Statement in Advance of Plea."
Saint-Veltri declined to comment on this development beyond the filing itself. However, the motion doesn't mean Bartkowicz is dodging the date. He may simply not be very good at playing phone tag.
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Hope he's better about keep dates as scheduled -- because the judge in the case denied Saint-Veltri's motion earlier today. As such, Bartkowicz is still expected in court at 11 a.m. tomorrow. At that time, he'll likely be asked if he still wants to change his plea, or if he's had a change of heart. Presuming the former, the whole thing may be resolved tomorrow, or the judge could establish a new date for the hearing. But first, he's got to show up.
Here's the text of the filing:
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO\
Case Number 10-CR-00118-PAB
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. CHRISTOPHER BARTKOWICZ, Defendant.
MOTION TO CONTINUE CHANGE OF PLEA HEARING
COMES NOW the Defendant, Christopher Bartkowicz, by his lawyer, Joseph Saint-Veltri, and he moves this Honorable Court for the entry of an Order continuing the change of plea hearing scheduled for Friday, April 16, 2010.
AS GROUNDS for this Motion, the Defendant states and avers as follows:
1. Undersigned counsel has received the proposed Plea Agreement and Stipulation of Facts Regarding Sentencing.
2. Notwithstanding considerable and repeated effort, undersigned counsel has been unable to contact the Defendant for purposes of reviewing both the Plea Agreement and the Defendant's Statement in Advance of Plea.
3. As a consequence of the issue described in the foregoing paragraph, undersigned counsel will not be able to comply with the pertinent deadlines relative to submission of executed forms of the aforementioned documents.
4. Undersigned counsel invites this Honorable Court to consider rescheduling the change of plea hearing at the time currently scheduled for the Rule 11 proceeding, i.e. 11:00 a.m. on April 16, 2010.
WHEREFORE, the Defendant prays for the relief requested and for any other relief that this Court may deem just and proper.
s/ Joseph Saint-Veltri