Long Beach Marijuana Dispensary Operators Win New Trial

The operators of two Long Beach marijuana dispensaries and Garden Grove’s Unit D collective—Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine–were awarded a new trial Friday, overturning their previous convictions, according to the OC Weekly. Byron and Grumbine were convicted Dec. 21, 2011 on 13 felony counts, including the sales of “narcotics” and filing false tax returns, Patch reported previously. However, during their first trial, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Charles Sheldon recused himself from the case prior to sentencing, saying he wrote a complimentary letter about the trial prosecutor. “Frankly, I made a mistake,” Sheldon told attorneys in the case, reported Patch in a previous article. Sheldon wrote in the letter that he wanted to let Deputy District Attorney Jodi Castano’s supervisor, Sally Thomas, know that “you chose the right lawyer to handle this difficult case.”

The judge also forwarded a copy of the letter to attorneys for Byron and Grumbine on Jan. 5, stating that their clients’ sentencing was “coming up soon” and that he felt they were entitled to know about the letter, which had been sent to the District Attorney’s Office and the prosecutor. Attorneys for Grumbine and Byron had asserted throughout the trial that the judge was overtly biased in favor of the prosecution. Christopher Glew and Allison Margolin, the attorneys representing the two men, filed a motion for a new trial, citing multiple incidents of bias against medical marijuana, including the judge’s letter. Glew told the OC Weekly that overturning criminal verdicts is very rare, especially in case supervised by another judge.

via : patch

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