Grumbine Medical Marijuana Trial: ‘We Got Pounded This Week’


Joe Grumbine
Joe Grumbine addresses supporters outside the courtroom

​The out-of-control antics of an octogenarian, rabidly anti-marijuana judge continued to appall activists in Long Beach, California this week. Superior Court Judge Charles Sheldon, the 79-year-old judge in the trial of Joe Grumbine and Joe Byron, former operators of a pair of Long Beach cannabis collectives, didn’t even bother to conceal his obvious bias against the defendants, according to observers.

“We got pounded this week and especially the last half of today,” Grumbine posted on Facebook Friday night. “In spite of three motions for a mistrial due to bias, we move forward in this landmark case.”
Right at the outset of the trial, Judge Sheldon denied the two Joes their right to mention medical marijuana in their defense — upon which, of course, the whole case hinges. This prevented their attorneys from calling it witnesses who could testify that they were following California state law. But after a ruling last week by the California Court of Appeal, Sheldon was left with no choice but to allow such witnesses to testify.
On Monday, when confronted with this ruling, Sheldon refused a follow-up motion by the defense to delay the trial for a week so defense attorneys Alison Margolin and Christopher Glew could get ahold of the previously off-limits witnesses. But Judge Sheldon insisted the trial start right away.

Judge Sheldon, who turns 80 next June, on Monday sustained all seven prosecutorial objections while overruling no less than 44 defense objections, sustaining only one. Then on Tuesday, the judge berated defense attorney Glew, who represents Grumbine, for his repeated attempts to get supposedly “expert” prosecution witnesses to give details about their qualifications or training — which, it would seem would be important information when weighing their testimony.

Solidarity Ribbon

​Neither Glew nor Margolin, who represents Byron, are allowed to discuss the case because of a gag order Judge Sheldon ordered for the duration of the trial, which could last another week.

At one point, Judge Sheldon even put up a screen preventing jurors from seeing the defendants’ supporters in the courtroom audience. That screen came down, but, according to observers, there was plenty of other insanity from the judge, who has “continued to display clear signs of bias,” reports Nick Schou at the OC Weekly.
“[I]t’s becoming rapidly clear the robe-wearing octogenarian isn’t exactly worried about appearing overwhelmingly biased against the two defendants,” Schou wrote.
At one point, Judge Sheldon actually ordered that a screen be put up between the jury and the audience to prevent the jurors — some of whom, according to observers, have already been seen rolling their eyes at the judge — from seeing audience members, most of whom support the defendants.

Solidarity Ribbon

​Grumbine, who founded the activist group The Human Solution to provide court support for medical marijuana defendants, now needs that kind of support himself. He is asking for a show of courtroom support to counter the judge’s obvious bias.
“Although this trial will affect all California collectives and everyone that has entered the courtroom for more than a moment has been shocked and affected, in 10 days of trial and protest in front of the courthouse in Southern California, we have been unable to fill the courtroom even once,” Grumbine said.
According to Grumbine, the prosecution has put on nearly 40 witnesses and has been able to introduce twice-removed hearsay into evidence. Next week, the defense brings its case as demanded by the Second Court of Appeals.
“Judge Sheldon is only allowing me six witnesses to take the stand,” Grumbine said. “So most of you that haven’t been in court because you were planning to testify, you’re free to come in.
“In addition, 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. “The judge is planning on introducing the primary caregiver portion of the law as a meaningful portion of the jury instructions even though our writ that was ruled in our favor specifically called the collective defense and did not reference the primary caregiver portion.”
“I’m going to lick my wounds for the weekend and come back fighting,” Grumbine said. “I didn’t have to do this and I am doing it to help change the world.
“There is no bad way to participate, and never too late to come in,” Grumbine said. “This is possibly the last week of the trial and the most important time to show support. Please let’s fill the courtroom and give the appearance that the movement cares for its own.”
The trial will continue Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The courthouse is located at 415 W. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802.
“Department K for Kangaroo,” Grumbine said.