[UPDATED W/PROSECUTORS TRYING TO AVOID NEW TRIAL] Joe Grumbine, Now Lawyerless, Refuses Plea Deal in Long Beach Pot Trial

See updated information at the bottom of this post

ORIGINAL POST, May 31. 1:01 p.m.:You have to hand it to Joe Grumbine: he's a man who isn't afraid of taking a moral stand, even when just about everything in the universe is aligning to tell him to put his scruples aside. In a ridiculous trial that ended in December, Grumbine, the former co-operator of Garden Grove's Unit D marijuana collective as well as two Long Beach dispensaries, was convicted of selling weed. In April, a judge threw out that conviction, granting Grumbine and partner and fellow Weekly cover story star Joe Byron, a new trial.

Grumbine is now broke, and he has no lawyer. He's just weeks away from a new trial. And on top of that, he's refusing a deal that would allow him to avoid jail time.

In an interview yesterday, Grumbine told the Weekly that because he could no longer afford to pay his attorney from the original trial, Christopher Glew, he appeared in court on May 29 to be appointed an alternate defender. However, the alternate defender refused to represent him, claiming that Grumbine, who used to operate a mortgage business before the real estate meltdown, owned several properties and was falsely claiming penury.

“I own one house, and it's upside down,” Grumbine insisted. “I don't have any money; I don't even have a car right now.” 
The alternate defender responded by saying that his office was going to conduct an investigation into Grumbine's claims, at which point the judge warned Grumbine that if the alternate defender continued to refuse to represent him, he'd have to find a private attorney or represent himself. 
Both Grumbine and Byron are scheduled to go back to court next month for a second trial for allegedly selling marijuana. But Grumbine says if he and Byron admit to having committed a felony, they'd be given three years of informal probation, at the end of which period, assuming they didn't commit any further crimes (like providing marijuana to members of a cannabis collective) the felonies would be reduced to misdemeanors.
But going on probation would essentially invite the police to harass him for the next three years, Grumbine says. “They would shut me up and they would do everything they could to trip me up somewhere. I know a couple of people in my collective who were on probation and would keep getting searched and they went through a year of hell.”
But more importantly, Grumbine says he can't agree to a plea deal for something he believes was legal. “I'm not a felon,” he explains. “I didn't commit a felony. All I did was help sick people. I'm not taking their deal.”
UPDATE, JUNE 11, 4:40 p.m.: According to Grumbine, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office has just announced it plans to appeal Judge Cassani's ruling from earlier this year which granted a new trial to Grumbine and former partner Joe Byron. The two men were scheduled to go back to court later this month, but given today's announcement by the DA, there's not much chance of that happening. Stay tuned!
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