Finn files suit against Vermont, three officials

by Alex Shartsis | 11/26/97 6:00am

Mathematics Lecturer John Finn has filed a lawsuit against several parties in Vermont last month in conjunction with the charges filed against him in 1994, which accused him of growing marijuana.

The lawsuit was filed on Oct. 24 against Orange County State's Attorney James McKnight, Constable Charles Stephens, Detective Sergeant Gloria Danforth, and the State of Vermont. It claims McKnight, Stephens and Danforth perjured themselves at a pre-trial hearing by withholding and misrepresenting evidence.

Finn, his wife and her live-in companion had been accused of growing 198 marijuana plants in the backyard of their Thetford, Vt. home. The charges were dropped in May of 1995 after the trial judge cited lack of evidence.

Finn's suit also stipulates that the State of Vermont "failed to provide [Finn] with the protection of the Fifth Amendment," and that it defamed him.

A separate complaint was filed by Finn with the Vermont Professional Conduct Board against McKnight, charging that he "willfully misrepresented crucial evidence" and that he "committed outright perjury."

In the complaint, however, Finn states that, "Frankly, I expect that lawsuit to be dismissed on the grounds that McKnight has immunity from such actions."

Finn is representing himself pro se, or in other words, without a lawyer.

He has served notice of the suit to the defendants, but the process may take up to two months and he said he does not expect the hearing to go forward until the spring.

All of the defendants were unavailable for comment.

At the time the charges were filed against Finn in 1994, he denied any guilt, saying he has not used marijuana for 30 years.

Finn called the episode the result of the country's "so-called war on drugs," which he referred to as a "witch hunt."

He also said in 1994 that he felt the charges were a "deliberate attempt to deprive me of my civil liberties."