State senators fighting for man's constitutional rights

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Apr 03 2013 09:24:00 PM HST

A Hawaii man known as the marijuana minister got a visit in jail from two state senators fighting for his constitutional rights.

HONOLULU -

Locked up for three years, without a chance for bail or a trial.

A Big Island man known as the marijuana minister got a visit in jail Wednesday from two state senators fighting for his constitutional rights.

After weeks of requests, the U.S. Attorney's Office allowed state Senators Russell Ruderman and Will Espero to visit Roger Christie at the Federal Detention Center.

"He shared some documents and some information with us and we were able to ask him some questions and see how he's being treated and how everything is going while he is patiently waiting," said Espero.

In 2010, Christie and 12 others were arrested and charged with manufacture and possession with intent to sell marijuana.

Since then, Senator Ruderman, who represents Christie's district, says all efforts to get a speedy trial or to get him out on bail, have been denied.

"Much more violent and dangerous alleged criminals are released on bail all the time," Ruderman said.  "Everybody that knows him, knows that he's not a danger to the community.  I can't imagine how he can be perceived as a danger to the community.  He's a very non-violent, peaceful person."

Ruderman said he has known Christie for more than 25 years, and that Christie is highly respected on the Big Island and did not hide his pakalolo ministry.

"He's a very spiritually driven person and he does what he does because he believes it's his mission in life and he believes it is his roll to do that," said Ruderman.

He added that he would always speak to with people who may have had a concern with his ministry, including the mayor, police chief and prosecutor, "And time, after time, after time, he's been told, 'Keep going, we don't have any interest in this.'"

Ruderman said Christie has also been denied most visitation rights and hasn't seen his wife in almost a year.  He's authored two Senate resolutions to urge the federal government to release Christie on bail.

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