Aspen LSD case dropped after judge suppresses drug evidence
September 22, 2009
ASPEN – The district attorney’s office will not prosecute a man for LSD possession and other drug-related charges after a judge Monday ordered the suppression of key evidence obtained during the arrest.
James Joseph Potter, who was arrested Thanksgiving day at the Regal Watering Hole in Aspen, no longer faces the felony charge of LSD possession and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
That’s because Pitkin County District Judge James Boyd ruled an Aspen police officer did not have probable cause when he arrested Potter. As a result, evidence used against Potter – drug paraphernalia, a baggy, and substances believed to be LSD and marijuana – were suppressed by the judge.
Boyd’s ruling came after an Aug. 3 hearing in which Potter’s attorney, Lawson Wills of Glenwood Springs, argued that Aspen police Det. Chris Womack did not have probable cause the night Potter was arrested.
Womack testified he was doing a “walk-through” of the Regal Watering Hole the night he made the arrest at the downtown nightclub. There, he noticed the scent of marijuana, which led him to Potter. Potter, upon seeing Womack, allegedly tried to conceal a plastic baggy. Suspicious, Womack approached Potter, and the two went to the ground. Womack subsequently seized a bag of pot and some sugar cubes laced with LSD, the officer testified. He then arrested Potter.
Wills, however, argued that Womack did not have sufficient probable cause to conduct the take-down and search at the crowded bar.
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Boyd agreed, ruling that even though Womack had “reasonable suspicion to support an investigatory stop” of Potter, the arrest, which was made after the two scuffled, “lacked probable cause.”
Potter also was charged with resisting arrest, and the judge noted that a “person is not empowered or authorized to resist an arrest even if it is ultimately determined the arrest was not supported by probable cause.”
Even so, Assistant District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said he would not pursue any charges against Potter.
“It would appear the court has suppressed all the evidence we need to proceed,” Mordkin told Boyd.