Lawyer is accused of bringing pot pipe into the courthouse
By CARY DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Peter Martin sat in a judge's chambers on Thursday morning, wondering why his attorney was late for a hearing on a family law matter.
So a bailiff got on a loud speaker and paged the lawyer. Moments later, the bailiff returned with an explanation.
"Your lawyer has been detained," the bailiff told Martin.
Tampa lawyer James Franklin Lowy had just passed his briefcase through an X-ray machine at the main entrance of the Pasco County courthouse in New Port Richey. The machine detected what a Sheriff's Office report described as a "questionable" object.
With Lowy's permission, a deputy opened the briefcase. Inside, the bailiff found a small pipe with some residue, according to the report. The residue, the report states, tested positive for marijuana.
Lowy was given a notice to appear on a misdemeanor charge of possession of paraphernalia.
And Martin's hearing never took place.
"It made me feel like an idiot," Martin said, adding that the hearing will have to be rescheduled. "It wasn't pretty."
Lowy, 35, a lawyer with the Florida Law Group, told the St. Petersburg Times that the incident was "a misunderstanding that will be cleared up in short order."
Asked whether the pipe was his, Lowy said he wasn't going to answer any questions.
He is not the first courthouse visitor to run into trouble during a security screening.
In April 2001, a man walked into the New Port Richey courthouse and tossed a pack of Marlboro cigarettes into a plastic bucket beside the X-ray machine. A bailiff flipped open the Marlboro box and found a marijuana cigarette inside. The man's wife offered a defense: Her husband accidentally had picked up someone else's cigarettes.
Bailiffs didn't buy it. They arrested the 22-year-old man on a charge of marijuana possession.
-- Staff writer Ryan Davis contributed to this report.
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