Two groups with quite different agendas but upset at the same thing--Orange County's justice system-- joined forces today at OC Superior Court in Santa Ana, carrying signs and chanting slogans in an effort to alert the public to problems inside OC's main courthouse.
In front of the building, OCNORML, a local branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, protested over several high-profile raids against local cannabis clubs, some of whose members now sit in jail on drug charges. Meanwhile, in the back of the building, activists gathered to demand reform of OC's treatment of so-called "pro persona" defendants who choose to act as their own attorneys.
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One protester not present that day because of medical marijuana was CJ Ford, a private investigator who was featured in a recent OC Weekly story, "The Bad Detective," which profiled Ford's efforts to work as a private investigator for several pro persona defendants being tried at the courthouse. Although elsewhere in California, such defendants can choose their own investigators from a published list, there is no such list in OC, leaving many defendants saddled with Joseph Szeles, an investigator with a checkered past who somehow managed to get the lion's share of the pro per cases. "What we're doing is following up on that article about Szeles to demand that they post a public list of investigators and make sure they allow pro per defendanst to choose their own investigators," Ford said. "They can choose their own investigators everywhere else except OC."