News & Info

February 26, 2003
CounterPunch Exclusive
http://www.counterpunch.org/harrison02262003.html

Mistrial? Rosenthal Jurors Say They Received Outside Legal Advice!


by ANN HARRISON

SAN FRANCISCO. Lawyers for convicted medical marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal say he is entitled to a new trial because two jurors in the case received outside legal advice that compromised their ability to make an impartial judgment.

Jurors Marney Craig and Pamela Klarkowski have been subpoenaed by Rosenthal's attorneys who today presented U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer with evidence of juror misconduct.

Judge Breyer repeatedly admonished the jurors to judge the case according to federal law, and consider only the evidence presented in court. But Craig has revealed that during the trial, she contacted a friend who is a practicing attorney. Craig believes that her decision to seek his advice was not improper because she revealed no details about the case, and asked a narrow question about a point of law.

"I simply asked him if I had to follow the judge's instructions, or if I had any leeway at all for independent thought,'' said Craig in
declaration. "His answer was that I definitely did have to follow the judge's instructions, and that there was absolutely nothing else that I could do.''

Craig said that her friend, whom she declined to name, further warned her that she could get into trouble if she strayed from the judge's instructions. She passed this information on to Klarkowski, who said in her declaration that the two women had discussed whether past cases challenged the law.

Craig and Klarkowski later voted with their fellow jurors to convict Rosenthal on three federal counts of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy. Rosenthal remains free on a $200,000 cash bond, but faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison when he is sentenced in June.

"In order for a new trial to be warranted, we simply have to show there is a reasonable possibility that the independent judgment, or freedom of action, of one or more of the jurors was affected in some way," said Rosenthal attorney Joe Elford. ''We have met that standard because Marney Craig was given what we consider to be erroneous legal advice which suggested she would get into trouble if she refused to convict."

The defense team has until March 14th to present a motion for a new trial. But when Rosenthal's attorneys alerted Judge Breyer of potential juror misconduct on February 20th, he gave the defense just three business days to produce evidence of impropriety, and reasons for requesting hearing to determine if the information warranted a new trial. Government prosecutors now have until March 5th to respond. The San Francisco U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the potential impact of juror prejudice in the case. But the government must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the jurors are lying, or that the
extraneous influences or improper contact was harmless.

Craig confirms that the advice she received during the trial did effect her actions in the courtroom. She said she was upset to discover after the verdict that she had the power to reject the judge's instructions, and vote to acquit Rosenthal if she felt the law itself was unjust. She said she wished someone had told her about the right to jury nullification.

"Had I known that it existed, I think it would have given me the confidence to pursue other options both in my own mind, and in
deliberations talking to other jurors," said Craig from her home in Novato, California. "I think we might not have been able to come up with a unanimous verdict, I think it is entirely likely."

Craig says she sought her friend's advice because while Rosenthal was accused of conspiring with a medical marijuana club, Judge Breyer forbade the issue of medical marijuana to be presented at trial. Craig said in her declaration that this left her feeling "frustrated and confused."

''We don't condone what the jurors did," said Rosenthal attorney Bill Simpich. "But at the same time, we are deeply sympathetic that they are torn between conscience and duty, and in that vein we feel we have a right to a new trial given this unparalleled situation."

Craig and Klarkowski were among the seven jurors who later said they were misled when Judge Breyer blocked the defense from explaining that Rosenthal was growing medical cannabis under California's Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215). Judge Breyer ruled that because all cannabis cultivation is illegal under federal law, Rosenthal's motivations for growing the marijuana were irrelevant. Jurors said they were outraged to discover after the trial that Rosenthal had been deputized by the City of Oakland, California to grow medical cannabis for patients.

During Rosenthal's trial, his attorneys filed a series of motions citing other grounds for a new trial. These included Judge Bryer's rejection of federal immunity provisions granted to Rosenthal, and the judge's refusal to permit testimony from DEA supervisor Mike Heald.

But Elford said the defense alerted Judge Breyer to the juror misconduct because they wanted to separate this argument from others. He expressed concern that Judge Breyer will decide the issue before the defense has an opportunity to fully brief it in their motions for a new trial. If Judge Breyer rules that the evidence of juror impropriety does not support a new trial, Elford says all defense motions will be presented to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the meantime, Elford says the defense has no scheduled reply or oral arguments to respond to the government's interpretation of the juror's actions. But he says the defense will cite numerous cases in both the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court where outside influence on jurors overturned convictions and resulted in new trials. ''The jury misconduct issue is by far the strongest grounds for a new trial,'' said Elford. ''The other issues that have already been raised have been
denied by the court."

_______________________________________________

Government's Attempt to Silence Activist in Medical Marijuana Trial Fails
Court Hears Testimony on How Rosenthal Helped Patients Live Better Lives

Thursday, January 23, 2003

The U.S. government's attempt to silence marijuana-cultivation expert and author Ed Rosenthal, as well as his attorneys, was thwarted today in federal court, but those assembled to hear the outcome of the latest twist in what was already a Kafkaesque legal saga had to wait to the end of the day for the judge's decision.

Fear of pervasive media reports on the trial "contaminating the jury" had yesterday prompted Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, Jr. to ask the judge to put a stop to all press interviews until the conclusion of Mr. Rosenthal's federal trial. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer responded yesterday by asking Mr. Rosenthal to agree not to speak to the press, with the added threat that -- in the event of a conviction -- he would take Mr. Rosenthal's conduct during the trial into account in considering the wide range of sentencing options available - 10 years to life in prison, and up to $6,500,000 in fines.

But with an attorney from the San Francisco Chronicle and a media-law expert from the First Amendment Project present in court to argue the matter today, Judge Breyer rejected the requested order, saying that the media attention was part of a "legitimate public controversy" and that the government had not made a sufficient showing that the jury was being influenced.

But that came at the end of the day, after court had recessed.

Today's proceedings, which saw eight witnesses called, began with Judge Breyer directing the prosecution to play for the jury several minutes of videotape from the raid on Mr. Rosenthal's Oakland cultivation facility. The video depicted DEA agents holding up small marijuana cuttings, or clones, to demonstrate which of them had begun to show roots. The number with roots is of grave importance, because only cuttings with visible root structures can be counted as plants, and federal marijuana sentences are based on the number of plants, regardless of size. The vast majority of the marijuana plants seized in the raid were clones or cuttings a few inches tall, and only a small fraction of them had roots, even by DEA accounts. The defense is disputing the number of rooted plants the government can prove were present.

Special Agent Charles Taylor of the DEA was called to the stand to testify about the plants he had helped count during the raid. One counting sheet bearing his initials showed a number crossed out and a different one entered, just as had a counting sheet seen yesterday during another agent's testimony. Agent Taylor stated under cross-examination that he had no idea why several large garbage bags filled with marijuana clippings had been left behind after the raid, since it was DEA policy to seize all such contraband.

Next up was Lesley Wilmer, the 74-year-old former landlord of the Oakland building that housed the cultivation facility. A retired MUNI bus driver, Mr. Wilmer testified that after initially leasing the site, Mr. Rosenthal had bought the building, with financing help from Mr. Wilmer. Defense attorney Robert Eye asked Mr. Wilmer if Mr. Rosenthal had told him that he was growing marijuana there under the authority of the city of Oakland, but -- as with all such questions during this trial -- a prosecution objection sustained by the judge stopped him from answering.

IRS Special Agent Anita Dobberstein then climbed into the witness stand to briefly testify about two checks she had recovered from the Rosenthal home. Made out to Ed Rosenthal from the Harm Reduction Center and signed by Robert Martin, the checks had been returned for insufficient funds. Agent Dobberstein said she had neither written a report about the seizure of the checks nor done any investigation into the circumstances that lead to their being written.

The next witness called was a firefighter/paramedic for the Oakland Fire Department, "German" Sierra, who had filled out an initial fire-safety inspection report on Mr. Rosenthal's cultivation facility. He testified that he had been shown a valid City of Oakland business license, and that Mr. Rosenthal had, after explaining that the marijuana was for distribution to the local medical clubs, shown the fire department inspectors through the building. Mr. Sierra said that at no time had Mr. Rosenthal attempted to hide anything or prevent them from inspecting any part of the building. He also said that neither he nor the other Oakland firefighters present had either commented on the marijuana growing in the building or reported it to any law enforcement officials. The inspection report showed that Mr. Rosenthal had brought the building up to code.

Another IRS Special Agent, John Wilson Baker III then came to the stand to tell the jury about a surveillance he had carried out with a DEA agent in which they had observed Mr. Rosenthal leave his Oakland building with a white grocery bag and drive to the Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center in San Francisco, which he entered, carrying the bag. The agent couldn't say if he'd left with the bag, nor could he say what the purpose of the surveillance was. He did say that Mr. Rosenthal made no attempt to hide either the bag or where he was going.

Robert W. Martin was then compelled to testify. One of several witnesses subpoenaed by the prosecution and forced to testify under a grant of immunity to keep them from asserting their fifth-amendment rights against self-incrimination, Mr. Martin described for the jury the circumstances surrounding the checks he had written Mr. Rosenthal (which had been seized in the raid of the Rosenthal home), the number of times he'd seen him at the Harm Reduction Center, and conversations he'd had with others at the HRC about Mr. Rosenthal's involvement with providing medicine for the patients. In answer to a question from the judge, Mr. Martin explained that he sold Mr. Rosenthal's clones to patients for $10 so they could "grow their own medicine and make their life better."

Another grant of immunity was then issued to force the testimony of James Joseph Kyne, who had been living on property in Petaluma belonging to Ken Hayes and working as a volunteer at the Harm Reduction Center at the time of the raids. Mr. Kyne was put on the stand in an attempt to identify a particular phone number as belonging to Mr. Hayes, the proprietor of the HRC, but the best he could do was say he'd seen a piece of paper with Mr. Hayes name and a phone number on it, which the DEA had seized in raiding Mr. Hayes' home. He described his volunteer work at the HRC as counseling patients, helping them find housing, and the like.

Last on the stand was John Brian Padgett, the DEA Special Agent in charge of the search at the Harm Reduction Center. But he'd barely gotten started on testifying about the marijuana plants he'd found in the basement of the HRC when the court day ended. He's scheduled to return to the stand when trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 29.

The prosecution estimated for Judge Breyer that they have an hour and a half left in presenting their case. The defense will present its opening argument at that time and expects to call at least a day's worth of witnesses. Judge Breyer then instructed defense counsel not to try and call such witnesses as Barbara Parker, the assistant city attorney for Oakland; Nate Miley, a former Oakland City Councilman; Lt. Richard Hart, the head of the Oakland Police Narcotics unit; or anyone else who might testify - as they all did during pretrial hearings - about the City of Oakland's medical marijuana program, for which Mr. Rosenthal had been deputized to cultivate.

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Gag Order Fight Draws First-Amendment Expert to Rosenthal Defense Federal Government Seeks to Silence Author of Self-Help Marijuana Books

Wednesday, January 22

Fear of front page newspaper articles, radio news interviews and television reports "contaminating the jury," prompted Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, Jr. to ask for a gag order on noted author Ed Rosenthal, his attorneys and his family, forbidding any of them to speak to the press until the conclusion of Mr. Rosenthalıs trial on federal marijuana cultivation charges.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said he had never before imposed such an order, but observed that the pervasive media attention may be contributing to the three days of demonstrations outside the federal courthouse. He then asked defense counsel to get an agreement from Mr. Rosenthal not to speak to the press.

Judge Breyer then struck an ominous note, pointing out that he had a wide range of possible sentences available to him in the event of a conviction, and that he thought it appropriate to consider the defendantıs conduct during the course of the trial in determining what that sentence should be. If convicted of all counts, Mr. Rosenthal faces penalties of anywhere from ten years to life imprisonment, as well as asset forfeiture and up to $6,500,000 in fines.

The defense will respond to the judgeıs request in court tomorrow, but given Mr. Rosenthalıs more than 30 years of First-Amendment activism as a writer and publisher, it is highly unlikely that he will muzzle himself. Failing a voluntary agreement from him, the prosecution is to present to the judge a written sample of the sort of order they want him to impose.

Threat of the gag order has attracted the attention of many newspapers. The San Francisco Chronicle's First-Amendment attorney will be in court tomorrow, along with Jim Wheaton, senior counsel to the First Amendment Project and a media law instructor at Stanford University, who will be there to advise the defense. Consideration of the gag order will be at 8:00 a.m., before the jury is brought into court at 8:30.

In today's proceeding, the defense returned to cross examining Special Agent Daniel Tuey of the Drug Enforcement Administration about the seizure of evidence from the Oakland facility where the government contends Mr, Rosenthal was engaged in growing marijuana plants for distribution to local marijuana dispensaries. At issue was what evidence the government could present as to the exact number of plants present, since both of the two most serious charges -- conspiracy to cultivate more than 1,000 marijuana plants and actual cultivation of more than 100 -- hinge on quantity. Agent Tuey conceded under questioning that not only did the government destroy substantial amounts of the evidence seized, but that they had left behind several large trash bags full of leaf cuttings. He was also unable to identify the number of plants, rooted or otherwise, pictured in the governmentıs still photos.

Under further questioning from prosecutor Beven, the agent claimed that the other two videotapes made during the raid showed each and every plant with roots, in such a way that they might be counted, but the jury has yet to see that footage, though they were shown video of a walk-through of the grow facility.

DEA Special Agent Anthony Levey was then brought in by the prosecution to testify as to the mature ³mother² plants heıd counted during the search. Notes he had made on the number present in each bed of plants showed at least one counting discrepancy -- a number crossed out and another entered -- which he conceded was the result of error, saying some of the beds had been counted more than once because he and another agent had disagreed as to the number of plants present. He testified further that he did not know if he had ever counted such plants before -- he thought maybe he had -- but he had certainly not done so since. He could not identify any of the dried plant material entered into evidence as being plants he had counted or cut, nor could he provide or identify any photos showing how many plants were in the room he had been responsible for counting.

Trial resumes tomorrow, Thursday, January 23, at 8:00 a.m. in U.S. District Court, Courtroom of Judge Charles Breyer, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco.

_______________________________________________

January 22, 2003

Ed Rosenthal's Federal Trial Begins
Feds May Falter on Pot Plant Count

Tuesday, January 21 -- In the midst of a minor media blitz, the cultivation trial of marijuana activist and noted author Ed Rosenthal got underway in San Francisco federal court today.  Assistant U.S. Attorney George Beven outlined the case against the man known as the foremost expert on marijuana growing, without actually discussing what Mr. Rosenthal was doing -- providing small starter clones of high-potency female plants to local marijuana dispensaries for distribution to qualified patients. The result was a disjointed opening argument. After a preliminary discussion with judge about whether the purpose of Mr. Rosenthalıs activities could be mentioned -- it couldnıt -- the defense elected to reserve its opening argument for after the prosecution completed presenting its case.

First on the stand was the ailing James Halloran, 61, one of Mr. Rosenthalıs indicted co-conspirators and a former racquetball partner, who testified about the marijuana-growing activities he began immediately after California passed the Compassionate Use Act, otherwise known as Prop 215, in 1996. According to Mr. Halloran, he entered into a partnership with Mr. Rosenthal in late 1997 or early 1998 to produce marijuana for the local medical clubs, before going their separate growing ways about a year later, though he continued to buy small clones and cuttings from Mr. Rosenthal until the time of their arrest.

Mr. Halloran also told the court that he was testifying in exchange for a more lenient sentence in his guilty plea to cultivation and money-laundering charges, charges he told the jury would otherwise have resulted in a 50-year mandatory minimum with the possibility of a triple life sentence upon conviction. While this appears to be an overstatement designed to cast his decision to rat out a friend and former partner in a more favorable light, it nonetheless introduced to the jury the seriousness of the consequences facing Mr. Rosenthal, should they choose to convict.

Defense attorney Robert Eye also elicited testimony from Mr. Halloran concerning an extraordinary provision of his plea agreement with the government, allowing him to seek dismissal of the conviction at such time as the federal law on marijuana is either determined to be unconstitutional or repealed by Congress.

Next on the stand was an electrician who detailed work heıd done at Mr. Rosenthal's direction to ensure safety and bring the marijuana cultivation facility into compliance with city of Oakland building codes, at a cost of roughly $7,500. Under questioning from the defense, he described the inspection of the facility by the Oakland Fire Department, emphasizing the complete lack of interest on the part of officials in the small marijuana plants that filled the building.

The last witness of the day was DEA Special Agent Daniel Tuey, who had supervised the February 2002 raid on the cultivation facility. As part of his testimony, the prosecution played a videotape the agent made and narrated during the raid, showing several small rooms containing "mother" plants, young clones and fresh cuttings, as well as various items tacked to the walls, including a bumper sticker that read "Thank you for pot smoking" and a newspaper article that appeared to be about the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center providing medical marijuana for the most seriously ill patients. The prosecution also introduced into evidence one grow light and ballast, one large corroded fan, and a few medium-sized bags of dead marijuana cuttings. The rest of the evidence seized, the agent conceded under defense questioning, had been destroyed.

The defense had, in fact, only begun its cross-examination of Agent Tuey when the court day drew to a close, but defense attorney Robert Eye nonetheless extracted testimony highlighting the fact that no local law enforcement had either participated in the raid itself or delivered any information to the DEA about Mr. Rosenthalıs operation. To further make the point, Mr. Eye questioned the agent about the Oakland Fire Departmentıs building-inspection report, which the DEA had seized in the raid. With the report projected on a screen for the court to see, Mr. Eye asked Agent Tuey about a three-word note scrawled across the top of the form, apparently written by the inspecting Oakland Fire Department officer. "Can you tell us what that note says?" Mr. Eye asked. "Doesnıt it say 'Donıt get caught'?"

After the jury had been dismissed for the day, presiding judge Charles Breyer vented his displeasure with the defenseıs line of questioning regarding the attitude of local officials, as well as the time spent by both prosecution and defense counsels on the matter of how many of the plants seized were either rooted or not. He asked the attorneys to come to an agreement about a range of numbers -- more than x but less than y -- rather than take up too much time arguing over a precise count. Yet the number of viable plants is germane to the specific charge of cultivating more than 100 marijuana plants. The defense believes the prosecution will be unable to produce any such number of plants.

Then came what may prove to be the dayıs most significant moment, in which Judge Breyer quashed the defense subpoena of one of the DEA agents who had participated in the raid.  Mike Heald, the former supervising agent from Sonoma County was being called to testify, outside the presence of the jury, about comments heıd made to a colleague of Mr. Rosenthalıs regarding the DEAıs policy on prosecutions in California. The colleague, Mary Pat Jacobs, who runs the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana, claimed in a declaration provided to the court that Agent Heald had told her that it was policy to follow the lead of local authorities in determining whether or not to prosecute those cultivating medical marijuana under Prop 215 guidelines. Ms. Jacobs had relayed that conversation to Mr. Rosenthal, who had relied upon it, in addition to the numerous assurances of local officials, in concluding that his cultivation of marijuana plants on behalf of medical patients would be immune from federal prosecution.

The quashing of the subpoena of Agent Heald is of particular significance to the defense argument that the prosecution of Mr. Rosenthal is a case of "entrapment by estoppel" in which officials tell an individual that their conduct is legal and then try to prosecute them for it.  In rejecting this argument, Judge Breyer made much of the fact that, while Mr. Rosenthal could reasonably have believed he was immune, the defense had not produced a key element in that defense: any federal government official or agent whoıs said as much. Now the federal agent who might have testified to exactly that will not be permitted to appear.

Trial continues at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, January 22, in U.S. District Court, with trial commencing on Tuesday, January 21, 2003.

_______________________________________________
 

January 13, 2003

URGENT NOTICE - Ed Rosenthal Trial Date set for Jan. 21, 2003
Now Is The Time To Act!!


Despite a voter referendum that makes medical marijuana legal in California, long-time activist and author Ed Rosenthal was arrested by federal agents and now faces 20 years in prison for helping the sick and dying in accordance with California state law.

The Federal government knows that they must defeat the medical marijuana movement at all costs, or else they have lost the Drug War. The issue is clear - Federal prosecutors want to stop legal providers of medical marijuana, despite the growing consensus on medicinal use. According to the November 04, 2002 edition of Time Magazine, "80% think adults should be able to use marijuana legally for medical purposes."

Jury selection in Ed's landmark case begins on January 16, 2003. Ed needs the support of his peers and all those who believe in compassion and the democratic process.

The good news is that the Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has been officially launched with a contribution of pro bono legal services. Green Aid is providing Ed with a group of skilled attorneys to defend Ed as the first of many such cases.

However, we still need to raise an additional $350,000 to pay trial costs.  Please donate whatever you can to help in this just fight. Even a little help will make the difference in defending both state laws and our ethical rights to be compassionate.

Green Aid needs your help to help Ed and others win their trials. To make your tax-deductible donation go to http://www.Green-Aid.com or call 1-888-271-7674.

Please email this notice to your friends and acquaintances who care about the issue. If you have a website, you can pick up a banner ad at http://www.Green-Aid.com. Updates on the legal developments are posted there as well.

Thank you for your support! -- Ed & Jane

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"In the face of the federal government's unprecedented assault on medical marijuana patients, caregivers and growers, Green Aid is an invaluable source of legal aid to those on the frontlines of the struggle."
- Dale Gieringer, Coordinator, California NORML, Co-sponsor, Prop. 215
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Final Defense Motions Denied; Jury Selection Moved Up Further
 

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against Rosenthal; Difficulty of Finding a Jury Willing to Convict Advances Trial Calendar Yet Again

Thursday, January 9, 2003 - Fear of jury nullification and public opinion polls showing that 80% of Americans think medical marijuana should be legally available were the reasons Judge Charles Breyer gave for moving up the jury selection process yet again in the federal trial of activist and author Ed Rosenthal. Only one day after rescheduling jury selection in the case to next Thursday, the judge moved it up even further, to Tuesday January 14th, saying he was concerned about being able to seat a jury that "passes Constitutional muster" in being able to "render both sides a fair trial," because such a large percentage of people may view the prosecution of Rosenthal as unfair. A discussion of how that jury is to be selected is now scheduled for Monday at 2:00 p.m. in Judge Breyer's courtroom, with selection to begin the next day at 8:30 a.m.

This scheduling change followed Judge Breyer's ruling denying the remaining defense motion to dismiss the charges based on immunity or entrapment. Defense attorneys argued that because Rosenthal had been deputized by the City of Oakland to provide medical marijuana and believed himself to have been immune to federal prosecution, the federal government's case was a form of entrapment. Several Oakland officials testified today in support of that argument.

The court heard from Barbara Parker, the Assistant City Attorney for the city of Oakland, who said that the city's intent in passing its medical marijuana ordinance had been to make individuals participating in their program immune to prosecution.

Similar testimony was offered by Nate Miley, a former Oakland City Council member now serving on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, who had participated in needle exchange programs, enacted the medical marijuana ordinance, and (as Rosenthal testified) visited the cultivation facility with his aide and "literally blessed it."

Miley and Parker both stated that despite extensive media publicity about their attempts to provide a legal haven for the distribution of medical marijuana, as directed by California's Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, they were never contacted by any federal official advising them that they were violating federal law, or encouraging others to violate federal law , and that prosecutions could result.

They were joined on the stand by Lt. Richard Hart, the head of Oakland Police Department's Narcotics Division, who testified that while he worked closely with the DEA under a memo of understanding and supervised cooperative efforts between their agents and his officers, he was also participating in the meetings of the Working Group assigned to implement Prop. 215. He was never told by federal officials that there was or would be any problems with the program he was helping develop to ensure safe, affordable access to medical marijuana for patients who needed it.

Rosenthal's trial on federal charges stemming from his participation in that program is scheduled to begin Tuesday, January 21, in U.S. District Court.

COMING UP:
Monday, January 13, 2003 -- determination of jury selection process.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003 -- Jury selection begins.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003 -- Trial commences

WHERE: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Courtroom of Justice Charles Breyer, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, California

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Updates and background information on Ed Rosenthal’s case are also available on the web at www.green-aid.com or www.safeaccessnow.org.


Federal Judge Rejects Dismissal in Medical Marijuana Expert's Case
Oakland City Attorney To Testify Thurs., Jan. 9, Jury Selection Set for Thurs., Jan. 16


WHAT: Federal District Court justice Charles Breyer, presiding over the case against renowned marijuana expert Ed Rosenthal, has rejected motions to dismiss charges against Rosenthal and set Jan.16 to begin selecting a jury for trial, scheduled to commence Jan. 21.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IN FURTHER BREAKING NEWS, Breyer will hear testimony Thursday, Jan. 9, from Oakland Asst. City Attorney Barbara Parker on assurances Rosenthal was given regarding immunity from federal prosecution, and encouragement to continue his work to provide patients medicinal cannabis free from federal intervention and harassment. Despite this understanding, Rosenthal was subsequently arrested by the U.S. DEA.


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Rosenthal, author of over a dozen books on marijuana, was arrested in February 2002 for marijuana growing and possession after agents raided an Oakland facility where starter plants were being cultivated for use by medical marijuana patients. Rosenthal’s research and work on behalf of sick and dying patients followed the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, California’s pioneering medical marijuana initiative. Prop. 215 allows patients to grow and possess marijuana. The federal government has mounted an attack on this initiative, and Rosenthal is seen as a high-profile target in their attempts to eradicate the medical marijuana movement.

WHEN: TODAY! 1:30pm, Thursday, January 9, 2003

WHERE: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Courtroom of Justice Charles Breyer, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, California

WHO: Ed Rosenthal, 58, is internationally regarded as one of the leading experts on marijuana and marijuana cultivation. The charges against him could land him in jail for 20 years. Knowledgeable activists in the medical marijuana movement regard Rosenthal’s prosecution as an attempt by the federal government to silence an outspoken and brilliant advocate for the compassionate use of marijuana. They recognize that if the federal government prevails in its attack on Rosenthal, it will have a chilling effect on the Compassionate Use movement.


Jury Selection to Begin Jan. 16th in Federal Medical Marijuana Case
Judge Denies Motions Challenging the Charges Against Marijuana Expert/Author Ed Rosenthal

January 8, 2003 - Marijuana cultivation expert and author Ed Rosenthal moved one step closer to trial today, when Judge Charles Breyer denied his attorneys' motions seeking to invalidate the search warrant that led to his February 2002 arrest. Rosenthal's attorneys presented several arguments challenging the legitimacy of the government's actions, all but one of which were dispensed with by the judge. The last motion to be considered concerns Rosenthal's assertion that he was entrapped, because the federal government had an understanding with local officials that individuals providing cannabis for medical patients at authorized clinics would not be subject to federal prosecution. An attorney for the city of Oakland will be among those testifying on Rosenthal's behalf Thursday, January 8th at 1:30 p.m.

In an apparent effort to accelerate the trial process, Judge Breyer moved up jury selection to next Thursday, January 16, after expressing incredulity at the prosecution's estimate that it would take two full days to seat a jury -- a length of time that may indicate the government's awareness of the difficulty they face in finding a jury willing to imprison those who help the sick and dying help themselves. The court calendar change clears the way for the trial to begin in earnest on Tuesday, January 21, following a recess for the Martin Luther King holiday. The irony of scheduling the trial of a contemporary civil rights leader around the holiday honoring America's greatest appeared lost on the court.


First Court Date in Federal Medical Marijuana Case
Marijuana Expert/Author Ed Rosenthal Fights Federal Charges Today

January 6, 2003 - Lawyers for renowned medical marijuana cultivation expert and advocate Ed Rosenthal will present arguments in federal court today that the warrant which led to his arrest in February, 2002 on cultivation and conspiracy charges is legally flawed and should be stricken, thereby clearing the way for charges against Rosenthal to be dropped. Their motion to strike the search warrant challenges the veracity of the informants used by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and statements by the arresting federal agent that are integral to the DEA case.

Additionally, Rosenthal and counsel will show that his research and expertise were focused on developing systems to deliver safe, healing marijuana to sick and dying patients based on the will of the voters of California, who in 1996 passed Prop. 215, the state's pioneering Medical Marijuana Compassionate Use initiative. Rosenthal, author of more than a dozen books on marijuana, worked cooperatively with state and local authorities to implement operations and guidelines for law enforcement and marijuana providers to make medical marijuana available to patients. In the past year, the U.S. Department of Justice has escalated its attack on California's Prop. 215 and the publicly-supported medical marijuana movement across the country, arresting, harassing and intimidating growers, providers and patients.

"Ed Rosenthal is an absolutely essential visionary and hero to the compassionate use movement," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. "Because of Ed's work, thousands of ill people can have the medicine they need, and the misguided federal drug warriors truly fear his expertise, outspokenness and courage."

Among California and national medical marijuana advocates there exists the recognition that Rosenthal's case is very important to conservatives opposed to marijuana's medicinal use. His expertise in the cultivation of marijuana, his research into various strains and their medicinal properties, and his collaboration with officials in Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento to develop systems to institutionalize medical marijuana can further legitimize marijuana as medicine and reduce support for the Drug War. Both statewide and national polls have already shown 80% support for the medicinal use of marijuana.

Rosenthal's case will be heard by Hon. Charles Breyer, U.S. District Court, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, at 2:30pm, Monday, January 6, and will be preceded by a rally of support outside the courtroom at 1:30.
 


News Advisory

Marijuana Expert Ed Rosenthal Fights Federal Pot Charges
Lawyers to File Motions to Dismiss Case in Federal Court Jan. 6th

WHAT: Lawyers for renowned author and marijuana cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal will present arguments to dismiss federal charges against him beginning on Monday, January 6. Rosenthal, author of over a dozen books on marijuana, was arrested in February 2002 for marijuana growing and possession after agents raided an Oakland facility where starter plants were being cultivated for use by medical marijuana patients. Rosenthal's research and work on behalf of sick and dying patients followed the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, California's pioneering medical marijuana initiative. Prop. 215 allows patients to grow and possess marijuana. The federal government has mounted an attack on this initiative, and Rosenthal is seen as a high-profile target in their attempts to eradicate the medical marijuana movement.

WHEN: 2:30pm Monday, January 6, 2003
Wednesday, January 8, 2003

WHERE: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Courtroom of Justice Charles Breyer, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, California

WHO: Ed Rosenthal, 58, is internationally regarded as one of the leading experts on marijuana and marijuana cultivation. The charges against him could land him in jail for 20 years. Knowledgeable activists in the medical marijuana movement regard Rosenthal's prosecution as an attempt by the federal government to silence an outspoken and brilliant advocate for the compassionate use of marijuana. They recognize that if the federal government prevails in its attack on Rosenthal, it will have a chilling effect on the Compassionate Use movement.

 

How should children be treated in the war on drugs? That question is the title of a three-way debate at the Marijuana Policy Project's first-ever conference, to be held in Anaheim, California, on November 8-10, 2002.

Mike Males, Ph.D., of the National Youth Rights Association advocates that minors not be punished for using marijuana; in fact, he criticized MPP's Nevada initiative for maintaining penalties for minors. Ginger Katz, who sits on the advisory board of Partnership for a Drug-Free America, will represent the prohibitionist side of the debate. In the middle will be Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.d., a researcher-activist who advocates harm reduction strategies for children who use drugs.

Our conference agenda now also includes panels on:

  * DEA's war on medical marijuana patients in California
  * law-enforcement officers speaking out for reform
  * dissecting government propaganda
  * millionaires and billionaires who are funding reform
  * music and the drug war
  * celebration of ballot initiative victory in Nevada?

The opening reception for this conference -- which is being co-hosted by Students for Sensible Drug Policy -- will take place on November 7, 2002.

Please see
http://www.mpp.org/confernce for everything you need to know.

San Francisco Chronicle Profile on Ed Rosenthal

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