[UPDATED W/JUDGE'S LATEST ANTICS] Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine Trial: It's a Kangaroo Courtroom


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UPDATED, DEC. 7, 3 P.M.: The good news, if you can call it that, is that Judge Charles Sheldon, the 80-something judge in the trial of Joe Byron and Joe Grubmine, the former operators of a pair of Long Beach cannabis collectives as well as Garden Grove's Unit D dispensary, has taken down the screen preventing jurors from seeing the defendants' supporters in the audience. The bad news: Sheldon, according to observers, has continued to display clear signs of bias against the accused pot purveyors.

On Dec. 5, for example, Sheldon sustained all seven prosecutorial objections while overruling no less than 44 defense objections, sustaining only one. And yesterday, Sheldon berated defense attorney Christopher Glew for his repeated attempts to get supposedly "expert" prosecution witnesses about medical marijuana to provide any details about their knowledge or training.
For that display, Glew filed a motion for a mistrial but of course Sheldon denied it. Now, the lawyers are filing a motion with the criminal division's presiding judge to have Sheldon removed from the case. Neither Glew, who represents Grumbine, nor Allison Margolin, can discuss the case because of a gag order Sheldon ordered for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least one more week.

ORIGINAL POST, Dec. 2, 1 P.M.: There's a reason why the marijuana-selling trial of Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine, the former owners of a pair of Long Beach cannabis collectives, is unfolding in Long Beach Superior Court's Department K. The letter, as Judge Judith Meyer (who last month referred the case to Judge Charles Sheldon) once drew laughs for explaining, stands for that lovable bouncy rodent from Down Under: the kangaroo. 

As jokes go, it's not that funny, though: As the first week in Byron and Grumbine's trial in Sheldon's courtroom draws to a close today, it's becoming rapidly clear the robe-wearing octogenarian isn't exactly worried about appearing overwhelmingly biased against the two defendants.

First of all, Sheldon denied the two Joes their right to mention medical marijuana in their defense. This prevented their attorneys from sending subpoenas to witnesses who could testify they were following state law, which, in California, allows patients to smoke marijuana for medical reasons and to establish collectives to grow the plants. But thanks to 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, however, Sheldon refused a follow-up motion by the defense to delay the trial for a week so defense lawyers Alison Margolin and Christopher Glew could get ahold of those previously off-limits witnesses. No dice, ruled Sheldon, who insisted the trial start right away. It's been all downhill from there. According to court observers and the blog of the activist group The Human Solution, Sheldon has ruled against almost every defense objection, including ones in which prosecution witnesses were rambling onstage without answering any pending question, in which cases Sheldon simply instructs prosecutors to pose a question so that the witness can keep going.

Today, Sheldon went so far as to order a screen erected between the jury and the audience to prevent jurors (some of whom observers have already been noticed rolling their eyes at Sheldon) from seeing audience members, most of whom support the two defendants.

Supporters have been protesting the trial for weeks now, gathering every morning at 8 on the courthouse steps. The protests--and the trial itself--are scheduled to resume Monday morning.

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LB Concerned Citizen
LB Concerned Citizen

This is truly a travesty of justice.  Whatever happened to the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty.  An accused should be able to use whatever defense at their disposal, i.e. medical marijuana.  I developed an understanding for the use of this medicine through the numerous people in my life who had cancer (my mother and uncle), multiple sclerosis (daughter and friend), etc. I view these as gifts that helped me foster empathy towards others.  Perhaps those who have little comprehension of the necessity for this medicine would benefit from these same type of gifts.  Karma is a powerful teacher.

LB Concerned Citizen
LB Concerned Citizen

This is truly a travesty of justice.  Whatever happened to the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty.  An accused should be able to use whatever defense at their disposal, i.e. medical marijuana.  I developed an understanding for the use of this medicine through the numerous people in my life who had cancer (my mother and uncle), multiple sclerosis (daughter and friend), etc. I view these as gifts that helped me foster empathy towards others.  Perhaps those who have little comprehension of the necessity for this medicine would benefit from these same type of gifts.  Karma is a powerful teacher.

Rory Murray
Rory Murray

I've witnessed the insane rantings of "Judge" Sheldon for months now.He has bragged more than once that he will run things "MY WAY"!Thank Egg Heaven that the Court of Appeals had a little trouble with his way.Joe Grumbine and Joe Byron went beyond the pale to help their customers,who were NOT part owners of the collectives. Despite what Narcs, I mean "Experts" like Officer Oscar Valenzuela claim is the correct proceedure. This KANGAROO Court has cost taxpayers upwards of 2 MILLION dollars in scarce tax money. Speaking of wasting taxpayer dollars, let's put Judge Sheldon out to pasture. Let him collect that fat pension that he thinks he's earned.Leave the Justice System to those that still CARE about JUSTICE!

Paul Lucas
Paul Lucas

The US Supreme Court just upheld the california courst decision that the sates institutions must respect prop 215 and sb 420. That means they cannot do the job of the federal govt in this area.

Marijuanalaw
Marijuanalaw

It is said that justice and the law belongs to the twelve in the jury box.  You have to believe that they have the courage to put this travesty to rest.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

I bet the judge realizes he screwed up, but he can't back away -- he's going to keep the MMJ defense from being heard. 

The only thing we can hope for now is that the jury is already aware of California law concerning MMJ or jury nullification perhaps. 

ZZardozz
ZZardozz

Good reporting.  The OC Weekly ought to teach their sister publication in LA how to write factual articles about cannabis!

Mitch Mandell
Mitch Mandell

To make it more jumpy, the judge refuses the jury to see or hear about the Attorney Generals; Guidelines (written by Gov. Gerry Brown when he was AG) for what a legal dispensary can and can not do.  This is the document that 99% of all dispensary use when setting up a legal shop.

Anyone interested in reading them, you can find them here.http://aboutmedicalmarijuana.c...

mjgerry
mjgerry

we can't let this travisty go on this s**t has got to stop!! all facets of the government including judges, police, and elected officials all think they are god or something and are forcing their opinions and beliefs on all of us and that is not what the constitution states.  it's nation supposed to be a nation:  OF THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE , BY THE PEOPLE!! NOT BIASED, PROPAGANDIZED, IDIOTS WHO SOMEHOW GOT ELECTED. DO YOU SUPPOSE THEY BOUGHT VOTES??? WE HAVE ALL GOT TO GET OUT AND VOTE THIS ELECTION. WE WILL NEVER GET THESE BOZOS OUT OF OFFICE IT WE ALL SIT BACK AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT GUY TO DO IT. VOTE RON PAUL!! AND ALL OTHER LIBERATARIAN PARTY MEMBERS.

Mitch Mandell
Mitch Mandell

One way to stop this is to show up and support us at court this week (Dec 5 - Dec 10)

We fill the court and protest everyday, showing solidarity for the Joe's and the cause.  Come join us at the Long Beach Court house everyday this week at 9:00am, look for the folks with green ribbons.  It's at 415 Ocean Dr. in Long Beach. (google "Long Beach Court house" for a map)  We'll be there, will you?

Sunwu18
Sunwu18

Let's face it, there is still a powerful force working against medical marijuana in any way possible and there are still many people who have been successfully brainwashed by decades of anti marijuana propaganda. This judge is straight out of a Cheech and Chong movie. What's scary is the judges in those movies are a satire of judges 30 years ago but this schmuck is current and for real.  

James Morrow
James Morrow

Someone needs to get this BITCH off the bench

Sage
Sage

When do they retire these judges that are complete idiots?

Heresy
Heresy

The only thing I can think of to say is:

Our system is a sham, and I am completely ashamed of my so called "Justice System". I literally hang my head in shame, and if Judge Sheldon took a good long look at himself, he would too.

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