All Charges Dropped Against Joe Byron & Joe Grumbine
More than a year after Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine--who were featured in this Weekly cover story--were convicted of selling marijuana in Long Beach, a Superior Court judge in that city dismissed all charges against the two men. A courtroom observer tells the Weekly that the courtroom hearing was supposed to be a routine scheduling meeting. But while Grumbine's defense attorney was trying to negotiate a reduced plea for his client, Judge Arthur Jean called both sides to the bench. He then suddenly announced that he was dismissing the case in the "interest of justice."
Joe Grumbine (center) and Joe Byron (right) outside the courtroom
The Weekly reached Grumbine shortly thereafter. According to Grumbine, after the lawyers met at Jean's bench for a few moments, prosecutor Jodi Castano announced that her office had decided not to proceed with the case. "I'm still processing it," he said. "I was ready to take a misdemeanor and be done with it. The juries in California are terrible."
As the Weekly originally reported the two Joes were arrested and charged with selling marijuana in Long Beach despite the fact that the city was allowing other dispensaries to operate. After a controversial and lopsided trial that was heavily covered by the Weekly, a jury convicted the two Joes in December 2011. However, the judge in the case had to recuse himself from sentencing because he'd privately sent a letter congratulating the prosecutor for her work in the trial. Another judge then agreed with defense attorneys that the prior trial had been unfair, granting the two Joes a second trial.
All that is history now. "The judge said 'case dismissed' and we walked out smiling," said Grumbine, who added that the courtroom where this took place was number 4200, or, he said, "420 with an extra zero."