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Pot Hating Judge Recuses Himself From Medical Marijuana Trial For Biased Behavior


Crazy JudgeBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

Sentencing for medical marijuana defendants Joe Grumbine and Joe Byron — convicted of cannabis sales in relation to a pair of dispensaries in Long Beach, California and another in Garden Grove — has been delayed. In an unexpected, 11th-hour move, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Charles D. Sheldon removed himself from the case Wednesday morning, citing allegations of his biased behavior in the courtroom and admitting he made a serious error in sending a complimentary letter to the prosecutor prior to sentencing.

Judge Sheldon — who throughout the trial, put on one of the most unseemly displays of anti-marijuana bias in memory — denied the allegations, reports Nick Schou of OC Weekly. “The court is not biased in favor of any party or counsel,” he claimed, responding to a recusal motion by defense attorneys Christopher Glew and Allison Margolin. The recusal motion included a laundry list of Judge Sheldon’s objectionable statements.

But Sheldon, 79, admitted that he had erred in sending a January 4 letter to Sally Thomas, head deputy of the Long Beach branch of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, in which he heaped simpering approbation, praising prosecutor Jodi Castano.

“Frankly, I made a mistake,” Judge Sheldon admitted. “I wasn’t thinking when I sent a commendatory letter to the district attorney.”

Having said that, the pot-hating judge just couldn’t stop himself from insouciantly adding, “I meant what I said in the letter.”

The judge’s stunning revelation “drew exclamations from many in the courtroom,” reports Tracy Manzer of the Long Beach Press Telegram.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Judge Sheldon said.

?His recusal brought raucous applause, cheers and shouts from a courtroom overflowing with about 50 medical marijuana advocates who have rallied outside and inside the Long Beach Courthouse throughout the trial of Grumbine and Byron.

In said letter, Sheldon said he couldn’t remember the last time he was “moved to write a letter commending” a prosecutor, but he was “moved to do so” this time.

“Ms. Castano, despite operating in the courtroom, often full or almost full of persons overtly favoring the defense side, was unflappable, composed, steady, organized, and totally professional from beginning to end,” the smitten old coot, I mean the judge, gushed.

?Castano’s “extraordinary preparation and excellent meticulous and painstaking presentation of evidence was a pleasure to observe,” the judge’s unseemly love letter read. “In short, I just want you to know you chose the right lawyer to handle this difficult case.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Glew said. “But it was obvious from the start that Judge Sheldon walls biased … he said from the very beginning there are no legal sales of marijuana of any kind.”

Grumbine and Byron were convicted December 21 on 13 felony counts including illegal sales of “narcotics,” grand theft, and filing false tax returns, after a three-week trial.

Supporters of the two Joes said the charges are nothing more than an attack by over-zealous police and prosecutors in violation of California’s medical marijuana law. They have also accused the authorities of fabricating evidence.

Grumbine and Byron were arrested in December of 2009 after police raided the three dispensaries, two in Long Beach and one in Garden Grove.

Defense attorneys Glew and Morgan had already prepared a recusal motion to disqualify the octogenarian Judge Sheldon before they knew about his letter.

After Judge Sheldon recused himself, Glew asked if that meant that the judge’s previous gag order against speaking to the media was now lifted. “I’m not making any other orders because of what I just said,” the judge responded. “I’m off the case.”

Though the trial judge has recused himself, the two convictions still stand. However, Glew and Margolin said they are preparing motions for a new trial, which will be heard in a new court, by Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani, on April 3.

Those motions will include arguments that Judge Sheldon’s bias denied Byron and Grumbine a fair trial, and will also cite juror misconduct, according to Glew. One juror, after the conviction, revealed that the jury used the Internet to look up the definition of a medical marijuana collective, even though they were told by the judge they couldn’t use any outside sources of information while deliberating the case.

Glew and Margolin initially opposed the appointment of Judge Comparet-Cassani, due to concern about her strict track record. But moments later, they withdrew their challenge of the venue.

Glew explained that the only other options left at the Long Beach Court would be even worse for the defense’s case. “We don’t have a lot of options for a fair trial in Long Beach,” Glew said.

Joe Grumbine And Joe Byron

Elect Steve Collett

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.


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  1. Testimony for JUD 2/14/2012 2:05:00 PM HB2600

    Conference room: 325
    Testifier position: Oppose
    Testifier will be present: No
    Submitted by: Rev. Rocky B. Hunt
    E-mail: rockybhunt@yahoo.com
    Submitted on: 2/13/2012

    I’d like to express my opposition to any Bill that would surrender a right in exchange for a privilege for a fee to be regulated. The use of cannabis is an individual decision that is protected under Freedom of Choice and Freedom of Association under the "Free Exercise Clause." If those who knowingly want to submit their inherent right in order to be regulated by the powers that be, then they cannot later state, that they did not agree to the terms and conditions of that decision while they knowingly waived their right in exchange for the privilege to be regulated.
    I have issue with anyone who wants to deny my unalienable rights or the rights of others, when I subject no-one to my personal religious values, practices or beliefs and neither should you. As long as I do not offend, coerce, conspire, molest, injure, oppress, or cause harm to anyone that knowingly makes this choice of his own "free will" from a set of known facts about a particular substance, then he/she should be free to so so, and has "exercised his/her rights freely" and chosen or decided and accepted any of the benefits or inadvertent injuries sustained from making that informed decision as everyone has the right to shape & control his/her own destiny.
    Any claim that the Health Safety and Welfare of this Nation is being facilitated by the powers that be, is a total farce and a lie. I can personally attest to this as can many others who have been injured as a result of the gov’t failure to provide "safe harbor, granting access to this natural harmless substance.
    That I, (at the time) being of pre-majority age, while attempting to secure cannabis on the mainland in 1973, while residing in the Republic of Florida, suffered a horrible tragedy in a robbery/purchase gone bad, that included the death of a best friend and classmate.
    This one event was preventable if the powers that be had not been so short-sighted, by providing "safe-harbor," and unrestricted access to cannabis (for whatever reason)with proper legislation based upon the facts in evidence, sound logic and reason, and solid fiscal assessments, not merely speculative decisions or conjecture based upon dictatorial bias and prejudice, as if we lived under a feudalistic or totalitarian society.
    This one event forever changed my life (as I was blamed for the whole incident)sending me into a three (3)year deep depression with no aid nor understanding from my father, school counselor or academic advisor nor anyone from family services and this preventable on event, forever changed not only my life but the lives of another family, who had to endure the loss of a loved-one.
    Regulation is a personal choice for those who wish to surrender a right in order to obtain a license for the benefit, in order to do something which is prohibited, although duly note: That at one time cannabis and its derivatives were mandatory and fully legal in this country and if this governing body wishes to correctly legislate the matter before it, it should reconsider, that cannabis cannot be made illegal, without providing "at least" restricted access. i.e safe harbor" Safe and Guarded access to this wonderful healing plant / herb for its citizenry should be of utmost importance to this governing body while considering proactive legislation.
    Personally, I like many others, would not waive any of my unalienable rights in exchange for a fee to be regulated. However, their are those who will, and I can only surmise that you will take full advantage of that upon drafting of the appropriate legislation which is not what you have before you today.

    Thank you for taking the time to read into the record my comments and suggestions and may God Bless each and every one here today as I lift you up on the thrown of grace, as all things are possible thru him our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Blessings bestowed upon you this day – Amen.

    In His Service,
    Rev. Rocky B. Hunt – ULCR
    Universal Life Church of the Renaissance

  2. Worldwide, tens of millions of people, both users and non-users, have either been killed, maimed, incarcerated or had their lives seriously disrupted. Prohibitionists are overwhelmingly responsible for an immense increase in violent crime, organized crime, international terrorism and official corruption. Add to all that, an AIDS Pandemic and a serious undermining of international security and development.

    Corporate greed and individual bigotry have accelerated us towards a situation where all the usual peaceful and democratic methods, which can usually be employed to reverse such acute damage, no longer function as envisaged by our Founding Fathers. Such a political impasse, coupled with our great economic tribulation, is precisely that which throughout history has often ignited extreme social upheaval and violent revolution.

    There appears to be just one last avenue left to us — Jury Nullification. If we choose not to use this peaceful means for change then a violent solution may be forced upon us:

    “To function as the founders intended, our republic requires that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

    Jury Nullification is a constitutional doctrine that allows juries to acquit defendants who are technically guilty, but, due to their actions involving consensual adults only, do not deserve punishment. All non-violent ‘drug offenders’ who are not selling to children, be they users, dealers, and even importers, clearly belong in this category.

    If you sincerely believe that prohibition is both a dangerous and counter-productive policy, then you don’t have to help to apply it. When it comes to acquittals, you, the juror, have the very last word!

    Create what you can no longer afford to wait for – PLEASE VOTE TO ACQUIT!

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