|The Weedly News|
|Joe Grumbine, above, and Joe Byron were found guilty of all counts Wednesday by a jury in Long Beach, California|
Long Beach Kangaroo Court Yields Insane Jury Verdict
After what was reportedly one of the worst, most farcical and biased trials in history, led by an octogenarian judge who openly and repeatedly expressed his bias against medical marijuana — at one point even ordering a screen to be erected between the jurors and courtroom visitors — Joe Grumbine and Joe Byron, who operated Long Beach dispensaries, were found guilty Wednesday of all 13 counts.
The two are scheduled to return to Long Beach Superior Court on January 11 for sentencing. Superior Court Judge Charles Sheldon allowed the men to remain out on bail over the holidays.
Grumbine and Byron were raided and arrested two years ago this month, reports Nick Schou at OC Weekly, resulting in a long legal nightmare which culminated in today’s convictions. The jury found both men guilty of selling marijuana, tax evasion, and electricity theft.
The charges, according to supporters of the two Joes, are nothing more than an attack by overzealous police and prosecutors in violation of California’s medical marijuana law, reports Tracy Manzer at the Long Beach Press Telegram.
Deputy District Attorney Jodi Castano, on the other hand, claimed the case was about about two men using the medical marijuana law as a shield for “illegal drug deals.” The case had been turned over to the jury Tuesday morning for deliberations.
The verdict has ominous ramifications throughout California, since it indicates police and prosecutors can hand-pick cases against cannabis collectives. It also sets the weird and unhealthy example of a biased judge keeping the jury from hearing California’s state law allowing the medical use of marijuana — which, of course, exponentially increases the chances of wrongful convictions like those of Grumbine and Byron.
The entire case stank to high heaven with the kind of ugly anti-marijuana paranoia found in so many police departments and prosecutors’ offices even in supposedly enlightened locales.
|John Gilhooley/OC Weekly|
|Defendants Joe Grumbine, left, and Joe Byron: Jury says guilty on all counts|
For instance, undercover cops using actual doctors’ recommendations for medicinal cannabis made repeated marijuana purchases at a trio of collectives — one operated by Grumbine, one by Byron, and one by both men — in an effort to build an obviously bogus “pot sales” case against the two Joes.
The elderly presiding judge in K Court (“K for Kangaroo,” Grumbine quipped), Charles D. Sheldon, 79, originally ruled that the defense couldn’t even mention medical marijuana, but was overturned on that by an appellate ruling a day before the trial began.
Among other over-the-top and downright strange things the judge ordered in his courtroom was the erection of a screen between jurors and the audience.
You see, the audience members in Judge Sheldon’s courtroom were overwhelmingly former members of the raided collectives, including some in wheelchairs, many of them wearing green ribbons which symbolize The Human Solution — which, ironically, is Grumbine’s effort to protect patients and providers from exactly the court of judicial abuse which occurred in this trial.
That screen came down, but, according to observers, there was plenty of other insanity from the judge, who “continued to display clear signs of bias,” reported Schou at OC Weekly.
Judge Sheldon also frequently screamed at defense attorneys Christopher Glew and Allison Margolin, thus, as the OC Weekly notes, providing ample grounds for an appeal.
“I am not able to mention the AG guidelines at all, nor bring into evidence my corporate minutes, nor mention that I used the law to determine the legality of our collective,” Grumbine said during the trial.
Given the judge’s seeming hatred for marijuana and the people who use it, courtroom observers weren’t surprised at the hateful verdict.
“The only way a jury could have acquitted them was with jury nullification,” said Charles Monson, a wheelchair-bound activist who worked with Byron and Grumbine. “But the judge really painted them into a corner by not letting them look at the entirety of medical marijuana law.
“It’s a travesty.”