The NJWEEDMAN, Ed Forchion, won a major battle yesterday in his ongoing
legal volley with the State of New Jersey.

United States District Court Judge Joseph E. Irenas granted Forchion a
preliminary injunction, thereby freeing him from the Burlington County
Jail, where he has been since late summer.

As of press time last night, Forchion had yet to be released, but his
lawyer, John Vincent Saykanic, said his release is imminent.

"Mr. Forchion is a freedom fighter," said Saykanic, "and this opinion is a
victory not only for Mr. Forchion, but for the First Amendment."

Forchion was arrested Aug. 18 after filming three commercials that the
state claims advocated the use of marijuana.

The commercials, as seen by The Trentonian, dealt with First Amendment
issues and the war on drugs, and did not explicitly advocate the use of
marijuana.

But that's what members of the Intensive Supervisory Program (ISP) said he did.

ISP is a heightened state of parole Forchion was put into it after 17
months in prison for transporting 25 pounds of pot into the state.

As part of Forchion's deal, ISP allegedly forbade him from advocating the
use of marijuana, though Forchion claims no paperwork on such a restriction
exists.

Tom Bartlett, the South Jersey head of the ISP, said it would be
"inappropriate" to discuss any matter regarding Forchion when asked the
details of Forchion's ISP deal last September.

Forchion subsequently sought relief from the federal courts, claiming the
State of New Jersey violated his First Amendment rights.

Irenas agreed, and ordered Forchion back into the program yesterday.

"It is in the public interest to have Mr. Forchion returned to the
Intensive Supervisory Program," Irenas wrote in one part of the 18-page
decision.

While Forchion can claim victory today, his legal woes are still far from over.

Next week, a continuation of Forchion's battle with the ISP continues, as
he is in the middle of a fight to be let back into the program.

Saykanic said the federal judge's ruling may or may not have an effect in
Forchion's upcoming state hearing.

"It could certainly change things," Saykanic said. "It could change how
they rule."


Pubdate: Sat, 25 Jan 2003
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2003 The Trentonian
Contact: pmickle@trentonian.com
Website: http://www.trentonian.com