Drug War

Rose McGowan Drug Charges an Indictment of Drug War, Out-of-Control Prosecutors

Authorities say two bags of coke were found in a wallet McGowan left behind on an airplane.

|

mug shot

Facing felony drug possession charges, actress Rose McGowan turned herself in to authorities in Virginia yesterday.

Police claim a wallet McGowan left behind on an airplane contained two bags of cocaine. A warrant was issued last month, and McGowan was released on $5,000 bail. The authorities themselves concede that the wallet was not in McGowan's possession when it was found on the plane.

The incident illustrates the petty and abuse-prone nature of the drug war, as well as the lack of accountability prosecutors face for poor decision-making and misconduct.

McGowan's lawyer, Jim Hundley, has asked the local county attorney to dismiss the charges, pointing out that "individuals other than Ms. McGowan had access to the wallet for somewhere between approximately 5 hours 40 minutes and more than 11 hours" before the authorities found it.

For that reason alone, the charges should not have been filed. They'll never hold up in court, because the long gap in chain of custody provides more than enough room for a reasonable doubt. But prosecutors have little sense of self-regulation on excessive charging like this, because they face no negative consequences for their decisions. "Who are they gonna believe, you or me?" a Texas prosecutor asked an Uber driver during a drunken tirade.

Thanks to video, that widespread sentiment within the law enforcement and criminal justice industry is slowly starting to be challenged. But it isn't exactly on its last legs. Police officers are fairly regularly caught on tape planting drugs, but it doesn't seem to have ended the practice. Here's an example from, uh, yesterday.

McGowan, meanwhile, has powerful enemies. The actress, who says Harvey Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in 1997 and reached an undisclosed settlement with him, has been one of the movie mogul's most vocal critics. When Weinstein hired a private investigation firm to squash imminent reporting about his alleged serial sexual predation, former Mossad agents working for the firm posed as feminist-supporting investment bankers and met with McGowen to fish for information.

Had McGowan claimed that ex-spies were trying to extract information from her before the stories about Weinstein were published, she might have been written off as a paranoiac. The same goes for the claim that someone else might have planted the bags of cocaine in her wallet. McGowan says she got a mysterious Instagram message saying she had left her wallet and coke on the airplane. Fearing she was being followed, she decided to leave D.C. by bus after the Women's March for which she came into town.

Yet the validity of her claim should not have to rest on a widely publicized harassment campaign by one of the most powerful men in her industry. After all, any backwater prosecutor or cop could be the most powerful man in the country from your perspective, when he has your fate in his hands.

Body cameras for police are a start. But the kinds of laws, like drug possession, that offer the authorities an easy way to nail a predetermined target have to go as well. The laws are based on fundamentally nonviolent offenses, but they introduce violence—police force and the threat of jail—and an opportunity to abuse power.

McGowan can sound the alarm to Ronan Farrow and The New Yorker, and she still has to spend money on a lawyer to shake off preposterous charges. For countless Americans without her wealth or fame, it's even worse.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

34 responses to “Rose McGowan Drug Charges an Indictment of Drug War, Out-of-Control Prosecutors

  1. she still has to spend money on a lawyer to shake off preposterous charges

    She should ask Taylor Swift for help on how to do that!

    Crusty Juggler, merging two stories together with incredible humor.

    1. The jesters gonna jest, jest jest.

    2. One time, Crusty left his purse on an airplane. You will never believe what they found inside!

      1. The airplane had to be destroyed. It was the only way to be sure.

  2. But prosecutors have little sense of self-regulation on excessive charging like this, because they face no negative consequences for their decisions.

    You want to introduce accountability into the criminal justice system? I can’t imagine the chilling effect that would have on resume padding in a prosecutor’s march to higher office.

    1. Use the loser-pays system in criminal prosecutions. Have prosecutors pay the legal expenses for every charge which ends in a not guilty verdict (even if some of the other charges stuck).

      Have them post bond, secured by their salary, to ensure they’ll be able to pay these legal expenses.

      Have the judge appoint an independent counsel after every acquittal or dismissal of charges to see if prosecutorial misconduct was involved and bring charges if there was.

      1. I like that idea. It’s pretty nuts that an innocent person charged with a crime has to bear the cost of their defense like that.

      2. Likewise if the judge suspects a plea deal may have been induced by unethical pressure by the prosecutor.

      3. So then a losing defendant has to reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of the prosecution?


  3. “Who are they gonna believe, you or me?” a Texas prosecutor asked an Uber driver during a drunken tirade.

    Yeah, that guy was fired pretty much immediately after that but I’d be the first to point out that without the video that would have gone really poorly for the driver.


    1. McGowan can sound the alarm to Ronan Farrow and The New Yorker, and she still has to spend money on a lawyer to shake off preposterous charges

      I don’t find the charges particularly preposterous since Hollywood and coke go together like peanut butter and jelly, but I’d agree (obviously) that a conviction for it is pretty unlikely. As long as you’re famous, you can beat pretty much any charges up to and including actual murder.

      1. There’s also the fact that she didn’t have it on her. Anyone could beat that.

        1. Oh, absolutely. I’m not saying that she’ll be found guilty, and she shouldn’t be, merely that even if she is rightly found not guilty it’s still probably her cocaine. And so what if it is?

          1. Well, her politics may be dumb but the chain of events as described, if accurate, would suggest a nuclear-level stupidity that I’m not sure is even possible. The conspiracy theories sound more likely.

            1. I just assume a nuclear-level stupidity any time it involves actors.

    2. The Texas prosecutor is a woman.

      1. Women can be guys too, shitlord!

        1. It seems they can be dicks, I’ll grant that much.

      2. Amusingly enough, none of the News reports in Dallas that I caught mentioned the gender of the prosecutor. That’s funny stuff right there, I just assumed from the way the radio talked about the person that it was a guy. Whoops!

        1. The gender-importance oscillation wave is a difficult one to track. If that prosecutor were say, running for Mayor, then the gender would be repeated loudly and constantly.

        2. The fact that she didn’t get into a fight in a strip club is a sign she wasn’t a male prosecutor.

  4. They should give her back her cocaine too.

  5. Let’s stoke up the engines of White Privilege, Ms. McGowan.

  6. The laws are based on fundamentally nonviolent offenses, but they introduce violence?police force and the threat of jail?and an opportunity to abuse power.

    But that comes with the territory when you have a Nation Of Laws?, Ed.

  7. $10 says that someone tailed her, stole her wallet, planted the drugs and then tipped off the police.

  8. Prosecutors are politicians, most often with ambition; if that does not exceed their current office it will certainly be enough to get them re-elected.

    A celebrity drug bust? How can they possibly resist pages and pages of free PR.

  9. is slowly starting to be challenged

    Horseshit. More libertarian moment projection wishful thinking.

    1. Hey, we got BLM on the case! That’s a start, ain’t it?

  10. Well, they couldn’t neutralize her as a pervert. That would be too obvious, and might be seen as petty. The logistics of getting her labeled a terrorist were just too complicated. Setting her up as a drug addict was really the most expedient way to go. Lost of thieves would do the job for fifty bucks. The only complication would be finding one who wasn’t a drug addict herself, someone who wouldn’t gleep the coke and replace it with milk sugar. But any ambulance-chasing lawyer could get the case dismissed: there’s no chain of possession.

  11. WARNING: don’t mess with Rose McGowan!

    you tube.com/watch?v=ubNUCzx4kwg&t=2859s

    1. Oops, forgot to make the link correct, sorry, see below

  12. WARNING: don’t mess with Rose McGowan!

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=ubNUCzx4kwg&t=2859s

  13. Another messed up, entitled actress. I won’t get too upset either this goes for her when there are real people that need emotional energy directed toward their plight.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.