Man Who Faced 20 Years For Marijuana Possession To Be Freed After Legal Battle
By Nick Wing
A Louisiana man sentenced in 2013 to 20 years behind bars for a marijuana possession charge is set to be released from prison in the coming days after a successful appeal in state court.
In August 2011, a New Orleans police officer pulled over a vehicle for a broken tail light and found Corey Ladd, now 31, with a half-ounce of marijuana. It was Ladd’s third arrest for marijuana possession, making it a felony in Louisiana. He also had two other felony drug convictions ― one for possession of LSD, another for a single pill of hydrocodone.
Because of his record, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro chose to prosecute Ladd under the state’s habitual offender law, which allows judges to mete out lengthy prison sentences for nonviolent offenses often involving drugs.
After a jury found Ladd guilty in 2013, Judge Karen Herman sentenced him to “20 years hard labor at the Department of Corrections.” Following an appeal, Herman in 2015 reduced Ladd’s sentence to 17 years.
But Ladd’s attorney, Kenneth Hardin of the Orleans Public Defenders, appealed again, and last year a panel of state judges ruled that the “sheer harshness” of Ladd’s sentence “shocks the conscience.”
Ladd was back in Herman’s courtroom last week hoping for a more substantial reprieve. Some key factors had changed since his last hearing. In a move that lowered the maximum potential sentence, the district attorney’s office agreed to take Ladd’s conviction under the habitual offender law “off the table,” citing a 2015 state law that relaxed penalties for marijuana possession.
Although Herman still could have sentenced Ladd to up to 20 years under previous […]