Opening Statements Made In Jim Carlson's Federal Case

Posted at: 09/17/2013 7:54 PM
Updated at: 09/17/2013 11:01 PM

Jury selection and opening statements got underway Tuesday in the federal trial for Jim Carlson.

Carlson, his son Joseph Gellerman and his girlfriend Lava Haugen face a total of 55 synthetic drug-related charges. The trial started Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Once the jury was selected, each side presented opening arguments, which may have been just as complicated as the case.

The prosecution started with a story about a former addict who they said bought synthetic drugs at Carlson's store, The Last Place On Earth. Surya Saxena, with the U.S. Attorney's office, said the addict spent up to $300 a week at the head shop and helped pay for it by donating plasma.

Then, the prosecution gave definitions of the words "drug" and "misbranding".

"He called the chemicals one thing when really they were something else completely," Saxena said.

Saxena also said his team will present evidence proving Carlson gave synthetic drugs to shop employees, encouraged them to use them, then report back about the effects.

Once Saxena wrapped up, both Carlson and Haugen's attorneys gave opening statements. They said Carlson never sold illegal chemicals. Carlson's attorney Randall Tigue said when chemicals became illegal, Carlson stopped selling them and switched to something else.

"Before he would sell anything, he would make sure his chemicals complied with the law," Tigue said. "He did that from day one until his store closed."

The defense also focused on Carlson's transparency. They said he never hid what he was selling and that sometimes product was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

After all the opening statements were made, the judge acknowledged how complicated the case is. The judge even asked the jury to get good rest so they could be fully prepared for Wednesday's testimony.

The trial could take up to three weeks.