You have a right to an attorney…….

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Or so they say, then they continue “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you free of charge if you wish.” This is one of the lines you hear sometime after being raided and threatened with by assault weapons and having your liberty stripped with handcuffs and concrete walls. Since that fateful day Dec 17 2009 I’ve dealt with missing evidence, lead detectives that testify “yes we lie, we lie through our teeth.”  And on and on it goes culminating with a debauchal of a trial and conviction on all counts in Judge Sheldon’s kangaroo court just before Christmas.

The past year and a half have been a series of fundraising activities from silent auctions and donated prizes and dinners at friends’ houses to elaborate music festivals with proceeds going to pay legal costs and still coming up short. Today, nearly 2 and a half years after the raid, an initial $25,000 bail  (no refund), then a $120,000 bail with a 10% non-refundable bond posted by dear friends out of shear compassion, I got the mother of all kicks in the teeth!

In a moment of justice and a few miracles, I had been granted a new trial. Although this is the very best thing I could have ever hoped for, alas I have no more money to pay for it and most of my friends are tapped out as well. My small nursery and a few teaching gigs barely pay the bills, much less exorbitant legal costs, so I signed up with the public defender’s office.

In less than 2 weeks they informed the court that there was a “conflict of interest” and that the Alternate public defender’s office would need to take the case. I met with, let’s call him “Steve,” who quickly reminded me of the plea deal on the table. It seemed that he wasn’t at all interested in fighting this case but I let him know in no uncertain terms that I was “All In” and that I would fight this on my own if necessary.

Today (May 29, 2012) was a procedural day where my codefendant’s new council was going to officially substitute and my “Alternate” was also going to commit.

While we waited for one of the attorneys to arrive, “Steve” approached the bench and I overheard him tell the judge that he was not going to be able to represent me because I didn’t qualify financially. The defendant and I stepped across the bar and the judge said:

“The alternate public defender’s office informs me that they don’t want to represent you due to financial conflict. Now I am going to try to keep them on but I’m not really sure what the law states here.  If I am unable to make them stay you will need to hire an attorney and if you don’t, then you will be on your own. Do you understand this Mr. Grumbine?”

I acknowledged, we set the next date to meet, and my blood began to boil as I approached “Steve.”

“So what do you mean conflict of interest?” I said, obviously irritated.

We were still in the courtroom and he informed me that I owned several properties and therefore didn’t qualify. I just about blew up right there but managed to hold it together.

I choked down my venom for a second and whispered, “I own 1 property, I live there and have for 16 years and it’s way upside down. “

He informed me of several properties and even one that my wife supposedly owned. One was even on the market. My irritation quickly turned to frustration and even anger so we decided to go outside where he proceeded to tell me of his outlook on the case.

He informed me that he had reviewed some of the transcript and as he saw it my partner and I had created a “straw co-op” where “none of the money went back to the members” and that based on our closing arguments, our defense was basically “we didn’t know.”

I about blew a gasket and briefly informed him of the merits of the case as well as current rulings on the law. There in the halls of the court I really wanted to physically assault the guy that my tax dollars (and yours) were going to pay to “defend me” according to Miranda.

He asked if my collectives were still operating and when I told him not for a long time he just had a smug look and told me that I was welcome to talk to his boss. Before I was finished, I asked him if he thought that a jury verdict being overturned meant anything. He didn’t think it was much of a deal “the judge made a few mistakes” he quipped.

I continued to get hotter but somehow managed to maintain composure. I asked him if he was #$@! % kidding and when I told him that I was railroaded and that the trial was a fiasco He smirked and reminded me of the deal on the table.

I walked away as to avoid this getting worse for any of us, especially me and quickly called his office. I spoke with his boss and she informed me that their research showed that I had made millions of dollars from the collective and owned multiple properties and that it was my responsibility to prove otherwise. Add this to the need to prove innocence as opposed to being presumed innocent I am even more motivated to fight for everyone that falls into my category of those unable to afford justice!

As I told the cop that held the weapon to my head “you’ve got the wrong guy” never a truer statement was said!

NORML WOMEN’S ALLIANCE PUTS JUDGES ON THE HOTSEAT

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, May 22, 2012

CONTACTS:
Cheri Sicard: (310) 753-9457
Cynthia Johnston: (303) 345-3259
NORML WOMEN’S ALLIANCE PUTS JUDGES ON THE HOTSEAT
New Voter Education Project Launched via Social Media and Web

On Monday, May 21, 2012 the Los Angeles branch of the NORML Women’s Alliance (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) launched a new voter education project focused on candidates for Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge in the June 5th primary election.

Cheri Sicard, Los Angeles County community leader for the group said, “We at the NORML Women’s Alliance believe that judges hold one of the most important elected offices in our system of government. Judges, more than any other government officials, have a direct impact on the daily lives of the constituents they serve. Yet voters are often least informed about the candidates they elect to these important positions. We want to change that.”

Candidates for Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County are being asked their positions on issues relating to medical marijuana, as well as three-strikes laws, mandatory minimum sentencing and the recent United States Supreme Court mandate to end overcrowding in California prisons.

The first phase of the project reports on candidates for Superior Court Judge in California’s Primary Election, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Phase two will cover candidates in the general election in November.

The NORML Women’s Alliance is a nonpartisan coalition of socially and geographically diverse women who believe that marijuana prohibition is a self-destructive and hypocritical policy that undermines the American family, sends a mixed and false message to our young people, and destroys the cherished principles of personal liberty and local self-government.

NORML Women are bringing a contemporary approach to the public policy debate, and are proudly representing the interests of modern, mainstream women who believe that the negative consequences of marijuana prohibition far outweigh any repercussions from marijuana consumption itself. The NORML Women’s Alliance also presents a core group of national spokeswomen ready to interact with the public and the media on the important issue of reforming our marijuana laws.

View the NORML Women’s Alliance LA County Primary Election Judicial Voting Guide at http://tinyurl.com/judicial-voting-guide
# # #

PRESS CONFERENCE – 5/22/2012 – 12:30pm – Hall of Justice

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Medical Marijuana Trial of Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla   

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, has arranged a press conference on behalf of the defense, in front of the Hall of Justice at 330 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:30PM.

Last week on Wednesday, May 16th in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court, before The Honorable Laura Parsky, a jury was selected and the trial began.

Throughout the last week, the Prosecution presented its side of the criminal trial of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla a navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing Collective (THC), a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.

The Prosecution’s entire case consisted of two witnesses from Dumanis’ Cross Jurisdiction Task Force. The Task Force is an entity Dumanis strongly supports which was formed to commandeer local law enforcement in effort to help the federal government circumvent the state’s medical marijuana laws.

In the DA’s case, San Diego Police Officer Paul Paxton and DEA Agent Lindsay Bellomy testified exhaustively to the existence of THC, a fact not disputed by the defense. Paxton also testified to the existence of marijuana at the collective’s two sites, another fact not in dispute. The Prosecution then rested, having failed to prove the illegality or even raise one instance of where Padilla was out of compliance.

Dumanis’ contention is that marijuana existed therefore a crime was committed, a position held by the federal government not the state of California, where the case is being tried.

The defense represented by attorney Michael J. McCabe, included expert witness Chris Conrad, who testified to the nature of THC’s crop, the expected yields and his expert opinion of the collective’s needs.

Also, taking the stand for the defense was THC’s General Counsel Attorney Mark Wuerfel. According to Mr. Wuerfel’s testimony, on June 17, 2010, DEA agent, Beau Bilek, led a warrant-less raid on the offices of the Redwood Law Group, Mr. Wuerefel’s firm in northern California and stole attorney client privileged records of THC’s patient files.

In his testimony, Mr. Wuerfel described, the theft, the Mendocino Superior Court’s subsequent Court Order to the DEA to return the documents, the return of the documents and their destroyed condition.

Also described by Mr. Wuerfel, were the great lengths THC went through to comply with state law in the forming of the coop. During his testimony Mr. Wuerfel introduced THC’s Articles of Incorporation, the organization’s board meeting minutes, CPA reports, tax records and the only complete patient file returned by the DEA.

On Monday, May 21, 2012, Dexter Padilla will take the stand.

Solidarity with Bob Jerred

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The Solidarity Ribbon I received from the Human Solution has changed my life. I found out i was not alone. As I stood in court and was asked to state my name, I did. Then the judge asked me what my ribbon was for. I told her it was a Solidarity Ribbon. I am terminally ill with a very complicated case of Crones disease, and have an illeostomy as a result of this disease. I had my Drs. paperwork with a written recommandation to use marajauna as there no other medications available, it also shows my health progression with the use of cannabis. The Solidarity ribbon showed them that I was not alone. Many wear this ribbon they are sick, not bad people, but good citizens. Helping many . The local newspaper now wants to hear my story, with the help of my compassionate attorney. No Jail For A Plant! My wife and I are excited to share this knowledge! Indiana Im asking for your help there is much to do and we can Legaize this! We must stand as one and UNITE! Help Joe Grumbine he is a very kind man, with the most compassionate family ive ever met. The Solidarity Ribbon is an honor to wear, as medical marijuana is still not legal in Indiana. It is the only thing that is keeping me alive! Law or Life! Message me for info of those who need more calls, a letter, or court support, this Solidarity ribbon is worn by me proudly to show my support an that medical cannabis is saving my life!

The cost of justice: Vol 1- relationships part 5 Priorities

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There is no handbook (yet) about how to be a successful defendant (whether or not you can afford decent representation) and to say that the justice system is complex is the understatement of the century. There is not usually only one way to be effective and there are nearly always dozens if not hundreds of points that could be made or excluded not to mention actions to be taken. Even if a defendant is able to be represented competently, there is no accounting for understanding the case, communication, and best possible practice.

Most of us have similar priorities, food, shelter, mobility, companionship etc… then the raid happens and everything comes to a screeching halt.” The defendant (or loved one) is in jail, house has been ransacked and assets seized. This is as traumatic as a major injury or disease or even death in the family. Everything stops and must regroup. A tremendous sorting takes place. Those that really care come forward while many others take a step back. The defendant must come to grips with this new reality quickly because time doesn’t stop and waiting can cause even more issues i.e.: utilities shut off etc. “The case” become priority 1 and court dates and calls from attorneys come before most if not all other activities. This over time has proved to be a huge burden on loved ones.

In my case the attorneys have changed from the first trial to the second. Not only has there been the monumental task of choosing council (with no budget) but the need to be available almost constantly. So many calls and meetings are interrupted by the Lawyer’s call that is always priority 1. This is actually kind of the best case scenario. At least these lawyers are keeping in contact. Often, it is very difficult to reach them or in the case of the public defender’s office, often they don’t really care enough to participate in a meaningful way. Although this is rare, I am currently interviewing law students, paralegals and lawyers to help in a “Dream team” to take on this monster. This has proven to be a monumental task as scores of prospects reply to ads often thinking I am hiring a paying job. Reading resumes, interviewing and ultimately coordinating these folks not to mention the constant flood of calls and emails from new people asking to help or just wanting updates has taken resources from everything else including volunteers and loved ones that would otherwise have gotten the time. Defendants willing to stand and fight must be willing to sacrifice many if not most of life are other details including business, social life, and any type of recreation.  That is, if they are to stand a chance at being effective. If you are supporting a defendant please be patient if they don’t always get back to you or acknowledge every act. If they are at all like me, they are very appreciative but overwhelmed and physically unable to respond to everything.