If City Attorney Pete Holmes Isn't Prosecuting Marijuana Cases, Why Is His Office Going After Jeremy Fender?

Holmes' office says it technically isn't "prosecuting" Fender.
When City Attorney Pete Holmes was elected to office in November, he pledged to stop prosecuting marijuana cases. And, for the most part, he seems to have done that.

But James Egan, an attorney for a 26-year-old Army veteran named Jeremy Fender, says Holmes' office is "mobilizing to bring down a house of cards" on his client after the young man smoked pot to relieve back pain stemming from his military service.

Kimberly Mills, a spokesperson for the city attorney, responds that Holmes is not, technically, "prosecuting" Fender.

Instead, his office is seeking to revoke what's called a "deferred prosecution," something Fender entered into after being charged with two DUIs and one count of driving with a suspended license in 2007. If Fender didn't get into any more trouble for five years, the city attorney's office would drop the charges. Otherwise, Fender would be sentenced for those crimes.

That's what prosecutors say should happen now given a recent urinalysis of Fender that came back dirty. Mills says that a court order approving the deferred prosecution specifies that Fender is not to take any mind-altering substances. "We're not going to override a court order," she says. And she notes that Fender, despite his claims of taking pot for back pain, is not authorized to take medical marijuana.

Fender, a former Seattle resident who has lived in Boise since 2008, says it's been impossible for him to get authorization; medical marijuana is not legal in Idaho. He adds that his back was injured during training at a base in San Antonio, and that he consequently receives disability payments from the military.

He also admits that he's a recovering alcoholic, but says that he has been sober for a year. He currently works as a property manager, a job that requires him to drive around Boise to various properties. He says he will likely lose his job if his deferred prosecution is revoked. Among the possible penalties: a seven year suspension of his driver's license.

Mills says prosecutors are still talking about whether there's "a way to lessen the impact" of the penalties. A court hearing on the revocation is scheduled for May 20.

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