“Know Your Rights” Seminar Presented By Nasaba At Tri-State Trade Association Meeting In Memphis, Tennessee
Washington, D.C. – February 28, 2007 – On Sunday, February 25, 2007, members of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA) and the IndusBar of Georgia presented a “Know Your Rights” seminar at an educational meeting hosted by the Tri-State Trade Association (TSTA) in Memphis, Tennessee.
The speakers, all of whom are South Asian attorneys, discussed the laws and regulations surrounding the sale of cold medicines, from different perspectives to convenience storeowners and employees. The speakers included a former federal prosecutor, a Gwinnett County, Georgia assistant district attorney, an Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney, and a former law professor and criminal/immigration lawyer from Memphis.
The program began with a recap of the indictments that brought this issue to the attention of the South Asian community, when 49 convenience store owners and employees in Rome, Georgia, were arrested for the illegal sale of precursors to methamphetamines. Of those arrested, 44 were of South Asian descent. Many states, including Georgia, have recently enacted laws restricting the sale of common cold medicines like Sudafed, and nationwide, the police are telling merchants to be suspicious of sales of charcoal, coffee filters, aluminum foil and Kitty Litter.
Samidh Guha, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York, explained what methamphetamine is and the types of common precursors, including cold medicines that meth producers purchase for use in the manufacture of meth. Mr. Guha emphasized the Department of Justice’s high priority on fighting meth distribution and abuse, and, to that end, the regulation by Federal law enforcement officers of the sale of such precursors. “The use and manufacture of methamphetamines has skyrocketed in no small part because it can be made from everyday products,” Mr. Guha explained to the TSTA membership, “and convenience and grocery stores selling these products are therefore at the forefront of this problem.” Mr. Guha explained the federal limitations on the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be sold daily and monthly, as well as other product placement and customer log-keeping requirements that went in to effect on September 30, 2006.
Sabrina Nizam, a state prosecutor from Gwinnett County, Georgia displayed pictures of meth users entitled the “Faces of Meth” and explained to the TSTA members the laws in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas involving the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Ms. Nizam explained the devastating impact of meth addiction in rural areas, not only in the increase of other crimes committed by meth addicts, but also the destructive effects meth labs have on the environment.
Ash Joshi, a criminal defense attorney, and former state prosecutor, reviewed the penalties, both monetary and jail sentences related to these offenses. He also advised the audience that the defenses used by many of those arrested, including a failure to understand the informant’s slang words relating to the purchase of the illegal items, and selective prosecution have not been successful. Most of the defendants in Georgia have either been deported or served an average of five months in jail. Mr. Joshi explained to the storeowners what they needed to do to ensure that they did not become victim to meth producers who use convenience stores to purchase the materials they need to create the drug in large quantities.
The final speaker was K. Jayaraman, a former law professor at the University of Memphis School of law. Mr. Jayaraman has practiced criminal law and immigration for the past 18 years and explained to the retailers the devastating immigration consequences that could arise for storeowners just by mere technical and unintentional violations of the new laws. Mr. Jayaraman explained to the retailers the need for contacting experienced criminal and immigration lawyers when faced with these types of charges so that the storeowners would be better able to handle the sometimes draconian deportation procedures.
“The feedback from attendees at our compliance seminars has been extremely positive. From our interactions with the attendees and the questions raised at the seminars, we realize there is an extremely important need to educate and familiarize the storeowners and employees with the often complex state and federal restrictions on the sale and placement of everyday cold medicines” stated Habib F. Ilahi, a member of NASABA’s Executive Committee and coordinator of the Convenience Store Outreach program for NASABA.
The North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA), representing the interests of over several thousand South Asian attorneys has 24 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. NASABA advocates for the South Asian community in North America; provides a networking forum for all South Asian attorneys; supports those who value diversity in the legal profession; helps law students and others interested in the law develop contacts with practitioners; provides information to members on careers and the legal market; and educates and disseminates information to the South Asian community about the law, legal access, and relevant legal issues.
IndusBar of Georgia is voluntary bar association based in Atlanta, serving South Asian attorneys and attorneys whose practice areas concern the South Asian community. IndusBar’s mission is to promote the advancement of lawyers and students of South Asian heritage in the legal profession; provide a forum for professional networking, development, and education; increase awareness and encourage resolution of issues of concern for the South Asian community; support the provision of legal services to the South Asian community and increase awareness of the legal, political, economic, and cultural environment of South Asia in the local community.
SOURCE: North American South Asian Bar Association
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