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Nevada County judge finds problems with deputy in marijuana search warrant

A Nevada County judge on Tuesday ruled that Deputy Jason Mackey made false and misleading statements in a search warrant — a decision that means a marijuana case against two men will be dismissed, a defense attorney said.

In the same decision Superior Court Judge Robert Tice-Raskin denied a defense motion that claimed law enforcement committed outrageous governmental conduct.

The judge’s ruling came after six hearings that spanned three months and included some 20 hours of testimony.

The decision stems from a marijuana case involving Corey Connors and Mark Gonsman, both of whom were accused of a misdemeanor marijuana accusation. Defense attorneys sought to show Mackey, on the Narcotics Task Force in 2015, erred in his search warrant against the men.

Mackey said he photographed suspected marijuana under cultivation. Photos submitted to a judge with the search warrant show no cannabis, the judge’s ruling states.

“The State argues that the photographs were not attached to show marijuana cultivation; instead, it asserts that the photographs were included to identify the property. The court is not persuaded.”

Tice-Raskin later in his ruling states that “the Detective’s representations as to actually observing marijuana were misleading and false.”

Stephen Munkelt, a defense attorney in the case, said the judge’s ruling will suppress evidence gained through Mackey’s warrant.

“That means their case will be dismissed and there will be no conviction,” Munkelt said.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said he respectfully disagrees with the decision. His office is considering asking the judge to reconsider. It also may appeal the ruling.

“We think there’s evidence that clearly shows he didn’t lie,” the prosecutor said.

Sheriff Keith Royal said he was disappointed in the decision, arguing the photos the judge saw weren’t meant to show marijuana.

“It’s our opinion our officer was not dishonest, was not misleading in the search warrant,” Royal said.

Defense attorney Heather Burke, also involved in the case, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The photograph issue is one of dozens Tice-Raskin discusses in his decision. Point by point, the judge addresses claims made by the defense. He found many of them unsubstantiated.

Munkelt said that a ruling in favor of the defense on the outrageous governmental conduct issue requires much evidence.

“It’s fair to say we didn’t reach that level,” he added.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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