Judge Orders U.S. Attorney to Turn Over Memos on Pot Advocate

A few years ago, I frequently wrote about the trial of San Francisco marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal. In 2003, Sherry Colb at Findlaw had a good synopsis of the case.

First, Ed Rosenthal grew marijuana for sick and dying patients. Second, Rosenthal acted as an agent of Oakland, California's program to dispense marijuana to people whose doctors have prescribed it. Third, California's Proposition 215 expressly authorized the program.

At Rosenthal's trial, the defense sought to tell the jury these facts, but the judge ruled them inadmissible. As a result, Rosenthal was convicted by a jury whose members believed he was an ordinary marijuana grower.

The jurors were horrified to learn afterwards that Rosenthal had been a licensed marijuana dispenser.


It also came to light that two of the jurors had sought outside legal advice. One of the jurors said she shared the advice with another juror.

Ed was not granted a new trial. Despite the federal sentencing guidelines, and the case being pre-Booker, the Judge sentenced him to one day in prison. Ed appealed, nonetheless. He won the appeal.

The feds charged him again. His trial is set to begin March 19.

A few weeks ago, the feds upped the charges. He's now charged with fourteen counts including filing false tax returns, money laundering $1,800 as well as manufacturing and conspiracy.

These charges are almost identical to those in the first case. On Friday, the federal judge presiding over the case ordered the U.S. Attorneys Office to turn over all internal memorandums on the case for his review in deciding whether to grant Ed's motion to dismiss the charges.

“We are outraged that the prosecutor continues to pursue this case,” said Shari L. Greenberger, a lawyer for Mr. Rosenthal. “The vindictive nature of the prosecutor is clear-cut and utterly shocking.”

This is vindictive prosecution at its worst. I can't help wondering if the U.S. Attorney had refused to bring the new charges, whether he would have been fired along with the others recently terminated by the Justice Department.

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  • Display: Sort:
    that's kind of what i was wondering (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sun Mar 04, 2007 at 02:43:29 AM EST
    if the U.S. Attorney had refused to bring the new charges, whether he would have been fired along with the others recently terminated by the Justice Department.

    they just have to prosecute though. to not do so would open the floodgates, and that just cannot be allowed to happen.

    again, the house of cards is beginning to crumble under its own weight.

    jury rights (none / 0) (#2)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Sun Mar 04, 2007 at 07:06:25 AM EST
    while you folks are on this subject, why not remind people of FIJA, the fully informed jury association, and the fact that, as juries were orginially conceived of by the founding fathers, they had the right and the responsibility to be judge of both the law and the facts.  and, if the law was a bad law or being wrongly applied, to refused to convict, such practice going back to the trial of William Penn in England in 1670?

    Juries as originally conceived (none / 0) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Sun Mar 04, 2007 at 09:16:51 AM EST
      were also chosen by the Crown and chosen largely based on their position in the community and for having knowledge of the parties and the facts of the case. That conception was also conteporaneous with the concept that defendants were not permitted to testify in their own behalf.

       Not all changes are bad changes.

    Does Shari (none / 0) (#4)
    by Patrick on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 11:22:13 AM EST
    still work for Tony Serra?  BTW is he out of prisone yet?  I heard he was gettin' out in March.  

    Ed acting as an agent for Oakland is kinda misleading.  I don't think Oakland had him on the payroll.  That's a very defense lawyerly interpretation of the facts.