Beyond the implications for legalized marijuana in California is the much thornier issue of attorney-client privilege.
With her blond pixie haircut and black tailored skirt suits, attorney Jessica McElfresh represents the new face of California marijuana law: polished, professional, and regulation-oriented. Yet early on the morning of May 24, a SWAT team raided McElfresh’s San Diego home, where she lived with her mother and boyfriend. Heavily armed police officers handcuffed her and hauled her, still wearing pajamas, to the backyard, where they read the arrest warrant out loud—just loud enough for the neighbors to hear. That day, McElfresh was the criminal, not the attorney
McElfresh was accused of being an accessory to a crime related to her representation of Med-West, a licensed cannabis manufacturer and distributor, and its owner James Slatic, who had been simultaneously indicted for more than a dozen related felonies for fraud and money laundering that could lead to 15 years in prison. The case against not only Slatic’s business but also his lawyer appears to have been a broad assault by a prosecutor’s office determined to charge as excessively as possible and win, even if it meant being hazy about the facts behind the case.