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When Castano objected roughly half a dozen times to Margolin's closing speech on the same grounds, Sheldon repeatedly sustained her objections, referring to Margolin's arguments as "improper" and ruling they be stricken from the record. In fact, Sheldon had to ask the courtroom reporter to read back Margolin's statements each time Castano objected because he wasn't even listening to Margolin's speech. Typically, judges avoid this kind of intervention by simply reminding the jury that nothing the attorneys say during closing arguments should be considered as evidence, but Sheldon either forgot to say this or didn't see the point.
Speaking of forgetfulness, during more than a week of courtroom proceedings, Sheldon never admonished jurors to not speak about the case with one another or anyone else—an amazing oversight. Because of a gag rule Sheldon imposed on the lawyers in the case, Glew, Margolin and Castano are prohibited from speaking with reporters.
But speaking in the hallway shortly before the trial ended, Grumbine laughed nervously as he tried to make sense of the case. "It's a personal vendetta or something," he remarked. "Maybe it's just a dream, or we stepped into an alternate reality."
The jury began deliberating Dec. 20. If convicted, Byron and Grumbine face several years in state prison.
This article appeared in print as "Captain Kangaroo: Inside the biased, anti-medical-marijuana courtroom of Long Beach Judge Charles D. Sheldon."