UPDATED, DEC. 7, 3 P.M.: The good news, if you can call it that, is that Judge Charles Sheldon, the 80-something judge in the trial of Joe Byron and Joe Grubmine, the former operators of a pair of Long Beach cannabis collectives as well as Garden Grove's Unit D dispensary, has taken down the screen preventing jurors from seeing the defendants' supporters in the audience. The bad news: Sheldon, according to observers, has continued to display clear signs of bias against the accused pot purveyors.
On Dec. 5, for example, Sheldon sustained all seven prosecutorial objections while overruling no less than 44 defense objections, sustaining only one. And yesterday, Sheldon berated defense attorney Christopher Glew for his repeated attempts to get supposedly “expert” prosecution witnesses about medical marijuana to provide any details about their knowledge or training.
For that display, Glew filed a motion for a mistrial but of course
Sheldon denied it. Now, the lawyers are filing a motion with the
criminal division's presiding judge to have Sheldon removed from the
case. Neither Glew, who represents Grumbine, nor Allison Margolin, can
discuss the case because of a gag order Sheldon ordered for the duration
of the trial, which is expected to last at least one more week.
ORIGINAL POST, Dec. 2, 1 P.M.: There's a reason why the marijuana-selling trial of Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine, the former owners of a pair of Long Beach cannabis collectives, is unfolding in Long Beach Superior Court's Department K. The letter, as Judge Judith Meyer (who last month referred the case to Judge Charles Sheldon) once drew laughs for explaining, stands for that lovable bouncy rodent from Down Under: the kangaroo.
jokes go, it's not that funny, though: As the first week in Byron and
Grumbine's trial in Sheldon's courtroom draws to a close today, it's
becoming rapidly clear the robe-wearing octogenarian isn't exactly
worried about appearing overwhelmingly biased against the two
First of all, Sheldon denied the two Joes their right to mention medical marijuana in their defense. This prevented their attorneys from sending subpoenas to witnesses who could testify they were following state law, which, in California, allows patients to smoke marijuana for medical reasons and to establish collectives to grow the plants. But thanks to a ruling last week by the California Court of Appeal, Sheldon was left with no choice but to allow such witnesses to testify.