Looking at the Elements in the Andrew Cissell Petition Trial (video)

Looking at the Elements in the Andrew Cissell Petition Trial (video)

UPDATE:  On Feb. 4, Andrew Cissell was found guilty of  making a false statement on an initiative petition.  Sentencing will be in April.  He faces up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The trial of Andrew Cissell, 25, began today with opening statements and Prosecution Street-Eatzz-Adwitnesses.  Cissell is charged with making a false statement on an initiative petition in his drive to get marijuana decriminalization placed on the ballot in Ferndale last year.

The petition drive was successful, and voters passed Proposal A on Nov. 5 which decriminalizes marijuana possession in the amount of one ounce or less, by adults over the age of 21, on private property.  While this is now local law, marijuana is still illegal (except for registered medical marijuana users and caregivers) under State and Federal Law.

The issue in Cissell’s case is whether or not he knowingly used a false address on the 55 pages of petitions he turned in to the Ferndale City Clerk on July 30, 2013.  If convicted, Cissell faces up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine for the misdemeanor.

Cissell is also being charged in a separate case for felonies related to a marijuana sale to an informant as essentialpart of an investigation that began in August 2013, within weeks of Cissell turning in the petitions.  Cissell has claimed that both cases are politically-motivated, while Oakland County Sheriff  Mike Bouchard has said the case is “not political.”

The drug charge case is expected to begin in the spring.  Jurors in the petition case are hearing very little about the other case, with witnesses and attorneys taking care to describe it as “an unrelated investigation.”

The petition case hinges on three things.  Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick explained “There are three elements that I have to prove in order to prove the defendant is guilty…One: The defendant made a statement on a certificate on a petition…Two: I have to prove that the statement the defendant made was false.  Three: I have to prove that the defendant knew that the statement was false when he made it.”

When Cissell turned in the petitions, he signed an affidavit listing his address as being on W. Drayton in Ferndale.   That is also the addressed used on each petition sheet.  However, when Cissell was arrested in September and search warrants were issued on locations where it was believed Cissell may have lived, Jim Shaffer ad EDITEDquestions arose as to whether the Ferndale address was a legitimate place of residence.

The law regards a residence as the place where someone regularly sleeps, stores their personal effects, and is their regular place of lodging.  In the State of Michigan any registered voter may circulate petitions; however some municipalities may have additional stipulations.  Ferndale City Charter requires that the circulator be a registered voter in the city, and that requires being a resident.

When officers executed a search warrant at the Ferndale address, they met with Andrew’s father John Cissell.  John Cissell said he “had an idea of what they were looking for,” and told police that Cissell had not lived there in 2-3 years.  “I’ve seen what they [officers] do to houses so they pretty much stopped in their tracks,” he said.

An officer testified that the search team spent about ten minutes in the home, doing a quick check of the upstairs bedrooms and the home’s finished basement.  The officer testified that he did not see evidence of Cissell living there, and described the house as clean and neat, calling two of the three upstairs bedrooms “guest rooms.”

Officers then searched two other homes, both in Oak Park.  In each home they found mail addressed to HowesLocationCissell and other personal belongings such as clothing, DVDs or video games, and food.

John Cissell testified that his son did not live at any location full time, rather slept in multiple places – his house, his girlfriend’s house, and the two Oak Park homes. “Because of his nature, he didn’t really have a set place,” he said.

He said Cissell had a room at one Oak Park house, and that he had purchased the home on Rensselaer in Oak Park as a “fixer-upper” earlier that year.  For an unspecified amount of time, the bathroom had no toilet or bathtub, and the “walls were down to studs,” he said.

In regards to the W. Drayton house in Ferndale, John Cissell testified that Andrew Cissell kept clothing in a closet in the basement, winter clothes in storage, clothes in an upstairs closet, and that he did his laundry there. He said his son would come there during the day to eat, do laundry, and meditate as well as sleeping there a few times during the month, and that he received mail there regularly. He has a key to the residence, and “he’s pretty much free to come and go as he pleases,” John Cissell said.

Witnesses for the Prosecution, including police officers, the Ferndale City Clerk, and the Director of Elections for Oakland County, testified to key dates in the case. DENGATE _Fern115_Ad

On Nov. 27, 2011 Cissell filed his initial voter registration, using an address on Chesterfield in Ferndale.

On April 22, 2013 Cissell went to the Oakland County Clerk’s Office to file paperwork to run for State Representative.  According to Oakland County Director of Elections Joe Rozell, Cissell gave the Rensselaer address in Oak Park to the clerk who assisted him.  The clerk noticed that his voter registration showed the Chesterfield address in Ferndale.  The clerk than processed a change of address form for Cissell, which Cissell signed, changing his voter registration address to Rensselaer in Oak Park.

On June 10, 2013 Cissell changed his address to W. Drayton in Ferndale.

On June 12, 2013 Cissell began collecting signatures for the ballot proposal.

On July 30, 2013 Cissell turned in petitions using the W. Drayton address in Ferndale.

sidebar01sponsorLisa Dwyer, representing Cissell, will present the Defense portion of the trial on Monday morning.  Cissell will likely testify.  The trial is being held in Hazel Park 43rd District, presided over by Judge Charles Goedert.

For more on the issue of marijuana in Ferndale, and the Cissell case, see our previous stories:

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/11/16/cissell-case-moves-forward-sheriff-says-not-political/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/10/16/cissell-charged-with-voter-fraud/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/10/28/collins-and-covey-debate-ferndale-marijuana-proposal/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/investigation-into-possible-voter-fraud-in-marijuana-petition/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/09/14/marijuana-ordinance-petitioner-arrested-on-drug-charges//moderntax

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/09/11/clinical-relief-case-continues-charges-reinstated-by-court-of-appeals/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/08/12/marijuana-ordinance-goes-to-nov-5-ballot

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/08/11/council-to-vote-on-marijuana-ordinance-monday-video/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/08/09/board-of-appeals-hears-clinical-relief-case/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/07/29/ferndale-voters-could-decide-on-pot-decriminalization/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/07/30/cissell-and-covey-turn-in-pro-pot-petition-for-ferndale-video/

nicholas-schrock-allstatehttp://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/05/15/straight-talk-on-medical-marijuana-laws-proposed-changes/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/07/22/council-imposes-distance/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/01/12/clinical-relief-drug-charges-dismissed/

http://ferndale115.com/20100826clinic.html – Ferndale Clinic Still Open After Raid

http://www.ferndale115.com/20100629medicalm.html – Ferndale Places Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Based Businesses.

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