Pounded in San Bernardino

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October 2013, Octavio Gonzalez called and told me about his case. He mentioned that he had reached out to “all the other orgs” and that no one even returned his calls. I told him of the origins of our group and that this is what we do… I asked him to sign up as a member and send a version of his story. He did and I asked him to join us at a meeting. He did call into a work meeting and explained the case..
It was one of the simplest ones that I have encountered and should have been a slam dunk…
A small informal collective… no documents, no records, only 3 qualified patients that collectively agreed to cultivate their medicine together… sound familiar?
I have been personally attacked by so called “purists” that see this as the only legitimate way to comply with California law…. it’s not of course but they sit on high horses and look down on my “dispensary case”………  and you still wonder why we are still getting our asses kicked
I digress….
a “Knock and talk” turned into a “safety check” and entry into the residence without permission..   occupant was detained and later a warrant was issued and the raid conducted. The “roommate” ended up taking a deal and agreeing to testify on the state’s behalf but turned out to be a tweaker and picked up more charges and taking him out of play….
I spoke with Octavio from time to time since that first contact and he was relocating to Florida to be with family as soon as this mess was over. He was offered a misdemeanor but refused as he didn’t do anything wrong. ……
Last Thursday during a regular Thursday work meeting, I received a call from Octavio, the message stated that he was about to go to prelim and again, he had reached out to every group without any response….. I’ll admit I was a little irked as I had given a formula to rally support and like so many others… last second “help me”
So I did what I could and mentioned his case on the radio show and posted court details on calendar etc, and Octavio showed up at Victoria’s trial on Friday to show support with Tabitha his sister
Kathie Z and I arrived to see Tabitha sitting in the hallway outside the courtroom preparing to testify at the hearing. I walked in hoping to see a strong show of support but instead saw a mostly empty courtroom with the exception of an expert witness and “Mom.”
What happened next was deeply disturbing…. I witnessed not one prosecutor but two and they had convinced the judge that this case was held to the same standard as a dispensary, requiring licenses, and organizing documents etc….
the judge denied the medical defense and furthermore denied the attempt at bringing the recommendations of the members as they were not considered to be “business documents”
Finally, the judge denied the motion to quash the warrant ruling that the “Knock and talk” entry was OK as the occupant didn’t do what he said and a “strong odor of marijuana” got stronger as they got closer to the house…. the case was bound over for trial and Octavio must return to answer charges May 5th at 1:30pm.  (see Calendar)
We left the courtroom with little fanfare and a devastated Octavio walked past us and down the hall…… he returned a few minutes later trembling and on the Virge of tears. He thanked us for being there. We told the family that things would end up OK and that there were still many steps to take before trial. Also that the trial judge would rule on the affirmative defense for trial. I also assured him that we would do everything to rally more support
We have many members from San Diego to Los Angeles and many of you could easily be sitting in Octavio’s place…… we would be there for you……..
Please when you see a court support date posted either make a point to attend or find someone to take your place…. there is no reason why every courtroom in California or anywhere in America for that matter….
as you make your plans for the “420 event” or other entertainment please make the choice to match your time being the solution and supporting one of our Canna warriors that heroically take a stand instead of “taking the deal”
A reason, a season, or a lifetime…… where do you fit in?
thank you for being a part of the solution


Blessings

Joe Grumbine

Call to Action in North Dakota for Jason Miller

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– Jason Miller and his wife (Terri) contacted me recently about a trial Jason is getting ready to face in Williston, North Dakota.  Jason has a medical card from Arizona and got caught with his medicine in North Dakota where there are no medical laws.  The frame of mind regarding our plant in North Dakota has him and his wife extremely worried.  The risk of taking his case to trial is wearing on them, and the consequences are already unbearable.  The government has encouraged Jason to accept a plea deal, but Jason stands strong, even though he is facing 20 years, he does not want this on his record.  Jason and Terri’s courageous sacrifices has left them homeless and beyond!  They live in Idaho, and if he takes his medicine, then travels to North Dakota for a drug test  he is in risk of breaking his bond and an internal possession charge, which North Dakota is one of the few states that harbors this charge.  Terri tells me that Jason is a man of God with his credentials in ministry and they have always worked in the community helping people.  Jason and Terri would like court support, but that is hard to find in North Dakota!  They have been traveling back and forth from Idaho to attend court hearings, so they have had a hard time finding support.  Terri and Jason have been in contact with New Jersey Weedman, and feel comfortable using his defense, but this city is desperate for education and they are desperate for support!  Their trial is April 23rd – April 25th, 2014.

Defendant Cindy Farnsworth

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Being charged with production. I had 11 plants inside of my green
house. Another person threw seeds on my land. Then turned me in to the
police saying that I was not legal.

What city and State were these filed? Case #? Who is your legal
representative?
Holbrook Az. A court appointed attorney.

Case status? Arraignment, Jury Selection, Pre-trial, Charges not yet
filed? Include your next court date.
trial date is set for the 28th of May
I am a medical patent of Cannabis . After helping the Cannabus I drove
my car during the 420 gig last year . To be a support car for the bus.
This person was going to go back east with the Cannabus after Denver.
When they all got to Oklahoma city. This man got thrown off the bus.
As he was posting on Facebook that he was going to get arrested for
even being on the streets. Feeling that I might be able to help him. I
sent a bus ticket to get him back here. Long story short he got upset
with me when I wouldn’t allow him to grow on my land. When I asked him
to leave. He called the police and led them to believe that I am the
biggest dealer in north eastern Az. I have never been in any kind of
court for me. It’s a very scary thing to have to go through. I face a
year and one half of I lose. I would never have been put to this if I
had not gotten involved with activism. The big green bus has changed
my life. I must help change the world.

Urgent request for Chris Woodard

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The following is an urgent request from Matt Pappas.

Dear Friend:

Almost two years ago now, Long Beach Police, using a battering ram and armed with a defective warrant, raided a legal medical marijuana dispensary in Long Beach, California. The entire facility was destroyed. The basis for the destruction was alleged violation of an ordinance banning all medical marijuana in Long Beach that had been hastily enacted as “emergency legislation” at the urging of then City Attorney Bob Shannon. There was, of course, no emergency. The dispensary had leased the property far in advance of the passage of the ban and the City Council failed to include any amortization period, let alone the minimum 2-year period it should have. More than $30,000.00 damage was done to the interior of the dispensary. Patients were arrested as well as brutalized. Officers, effectuating their defective warrant, were in paramilitary uniforms with machine guns out pointed at patients who were prescribed cannabis pursuant to California state law.
Months after the raid, managing patient Christopher Woodard, a very professional and compassionate African-American man, filed suit against the City along with other patients and dispensaries that had similarly been raided, some without any warrants at all, since early-2011. The lawsuit alleged that the City as well as individually named officers, including Det. David Strohman, had violated various civil rights. Although most of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were patient dispensaries, the only individual plaintiffs were Woodard and his brother because officers had, following the raid of the collective, gone out several nights later and raided their homes. When they raided Woodard’s home in Riverside County, officers terrorized his then eight-year-old daughter, who suffers from a heart ailment.
Following the raid, Woodard left the medical cannabis industry and went back to working as an electrician and E.M.T. Since the raid, his house has gone into arrears and he has had to borrow money from friends. The damage done by police to his home, family, and employer were devastating.
The trial date set for the lawsuit was March 12, 2014. However, about six (6) weeks before the lawsuit was to go to trial, Officer Strohman arrested Woodard. That’s right — almost two years after the raid, Strohman — the main police officer defendant in the lawsuit for violation of civil rights — arrested one of the two individually named plaintiffs in the case just shortly before trial in the civil case was set to begin.
As soon as our office attempted to arrange bail for Chris Woodard, the District Attorney sought a “1275 order,” a program reserved for drug kingpins and large-scale drug traffickers. Essentially, the District Attorney alleged Woodard could not post bail until he proved the proceeds used for bail did not come from illegal drug transactions. In fact, Woodard could not afford the approximately $3,000 required for him to bond out of jail without loans from his family — he never has been and is NOT a drug kingpin. He is a father and responsible person who has worked continuously to support his family and to help patients both as a managing patient and E.M.T.
After he had been jailed for nearly 3 weeks, Woodard’s family was able to raise the money necessary to bail him out of jail. A hearing was thereafter set to determine the origin of the money as required by the Penal Code s. 1275 order the District Attorney had obtained. Prior to the hearing, Sergio Sandoval, who works for my law office, had arranged bail with the bonding company and had, as he has compassionately done for many individuals brutalized by Long Beach Police over the years, co-signed on the paperwork for the bail.
At the Penal Code s. 1275 hearing, just days before the federal civil rights trial was set to begin, Det. Strohman was in court along with Los Angeles Dep. District Attorney Patrick O’Crowley. When it appeared the judge was ready to grant bail and allow Chris to be released on bond, O’Crowley suddenly argued to the judge that he could not allow Woodard’s release because the Pappas Law Firm was under investigation. With a look of disbelief, the judge asked O’Crowley what the firm was being investigated for and what evidence the District Attorney had. O’Crowley reported he had no evidence but that the firm was being investigated meaning that Sergio’s signature on the bond paperwork was questionable. After going back and forth for a period of time, the judge granted the bail request despite Det. Strohman and O’Crowley’s effort to thwart bail and keep Chris in jail.
That evening, bail was posted. However, as had happened before with Woodard, he was somehow “lost” in the Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail system. For two days, despite bail being posted, Woodard was not released. Then, much to the surprise of everyone except the D.A., a new hearing before a different judge was suddenly set on the issue already determined by the first judge. Not surprisingly, the new judge was actually one of the most anti-medical-marijuana judges at the Long Beach Courthouse. Without basis, the new judge reversed the first judge, discounted the testimony of Sergio Sandoval, and ordered Woodard to remain in jail through his preliminary hearing set for mid-April.
What has happened with Chris Woodard is wrong. Det. Strohman has repeatedly retaliated against anyone who dares challenge his unconstitutional and illegal conduct. Strohman oversaw multiple raids in 2011 where the police obtained NO warrant whatsoever. He violates the Fourth Amendment regularly by using excessive force during raids of dispensaries. He went after a managing patient who had moved to San Pedro because that managing patient complained to internal affairs about Strohman. Strohman has told people that Police Chief McDonnell is “not his chief.”
Luckily, we were able to obtain a continuance in the civil rights trial. However, Chris Woodard remains in jail. He is there not only because of Strohman’s misbehavior, but because his skin color is black rather than white. He has been repeatedly targeted by officers when he has done nothing wrong.
There is a huge problem in the United States. We have adorned police officers, including the few who are bad and who believe they are above the law. This country has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. We put more people in jail and we do it for non-violent drug offenses. It is no longer the land of the free, but rather is the land of the jailed. Between 40 and 50 percent of the people jailed in this country are in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Costing nearly $100,000 per inmate per year, the budget problems in governments around the country could be solved if we stopped jailing people — homeless people, mentally ill people, non-violent drug offenders — if we actually worked to help correct issues — if we actually worked to correct issues for people when jail is actually necessary — and if we were thoughtful and compassionate about people — we’d save billions of dollars that could be spent on infrastructure or even used to reduce the huge tax burden we now have in this country. We don’t do it right — we just build more jails.
Chris Woodard should not be in jail. He should never have been jailed. He should never have been charged. In my opinion, Det. Strohman should not be a police officer. He is retaliatory, condones the use of machine guns for misdemeanor warrants where there has never been any threat of violence — put simply, Det. Strohman is part of the reason people around the country have such a negative view of Long Beach and its police department.
While the election is around the corner, I’m not writing to urge votes. Rather, I’m writing because Chris Woodard is in jail. I have not had the time or resources to fight for his release. He does not have the money to pay us or any other attorney so we’ve been working on a pro bono basis to help garner his release. We need your help. We need you to write to Jackie Lacey, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, and express why this country is on the wrong track. We need you to write to others in government. And we do need you to vote. Vote to remove judges who thing the proverbial hanging-rope is required in every case. Vote to remove politicians who blindly support law enforcement that puts thousands of dollars into elections. The police departments around the country are not served well by blind support and zero accountability because we put out a flag and remember times past where good officers have performed or fallen. Rather, responsibility and accountability make for the best police departments. The ability of a police chief to make personnel decisions is critical — a strong department and the best officers work where there is accountability. That is proven by the success of officer body cameras.
Chris Woodard needs to be out of jail. The Human Solution, through Joe Grumbine and Larry King, have been working to help Chris. We need your help, too. Please take a moment to think about Chris, write on behalf of him to those who are violating his rights, and reach out and express the need for change whenever you can — voice yourself — make a difference.
Thank you,
Matt Pappas

DA gets spanked at 300 Spring Street

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appellate 2

February 19, 2014 a day that impacts my case, my freedom and potentially the rest of my life.  A bit of history (only a bit) as based on the comments made on social media, very few understand the actual mechanics of a case as complicated as this one. November 2011 I was denied my medical defense by judge Sheldon and just before trial was to begin, the 2nd district appellate court decided to rule on the writ that we had submitted (a very rare occurrence) the day before thanksgiving at trial readiness conference, a stay was put on the trial… later that afternoon we received word that our defense was granted and we celebrated the best Thanksgiving ever! The following Monday, we showed up and requested a contuiance as with a defense, we would need to subpoena witnesses for the defense.

Judge Sheldon had no intention of allowing us any justice and ordered that the trial begin and the jury was called in. The stage was set for an 18 day fiasco of a trial that was protested vigorously, yet received very little media coverage that culminated with my conviction on 12 counts of sales of a controlled substance (a plant.) I was allowed to remain out of custody pending sentencing and things continued to be surreal and bizarre.  Along with dozens of character letters, we asked the observers (court supporters) to submit a declaration telling what was wrong with the trial and filed a motion for a new trial

The day after our motion was filed, Judge Sheldon sent a letter to DDA Jody Castano praising her in a most inappropriate way… odder than that, he sent a copy of the letter to both defense attorneys.

I walked into sentencing expecting to be sent to prison and said my goodbyes but instead of getting taken into custody, judge Sheldon recused himself and I walked out free and bewildered. Later in April, Judge Cassani ruled in favor of our motion and I had successfully overturned a jury verdict with a motion!  As we began the new trial proceedings, I was made aware that the state of California was appealing this ruling and not one but two more attorneys were being assigned to writing the briefs. Put this together with my state appointed atty, the DDA and my alternate public defender. Not to mention the judges and all the extra actors, all to try to add me to the thousands of Americans turned into felons because of the Cannabis plant.

I have no idea how many hours have been billed to YOU (California taxpayers) but this has drug on for nearly 2 years and has included more than a thousand pages of briefs about a 3000 page transcript of an 18 day trial…. Is it beginning to sound ridiculous yet?

The final step before the 3 judge panel rules is called Oral arguments. Both sides get a chance to clarify points and more importantly, the judges have the opportunity to ask questions that were not clarified in the briefs.

Kathie Z graciously covered a room near the courthouse so that we did not need to slog across 70 miles of rush hour traffic. I barely slept  and as much as I did not make  a big deal about court support, I was glad to see everyone that made it out… as much as it’s an experience like no other, I know that it makes a difference albeit intangible most of the time.

The courtroom was huge as usual but this one had a large section for attys and very little gallery. The 3 women and 1 male judge sat high above the rest of the court in a setting that could have been inspired by a pink Floyd movie.

We walked in about 15 deep and I noticed that my codefendant and his atty didn’t bother to come out but DDA Jody who has turned this case into a personal vendetta did.

Several cases came before mine and I was disturbed to see a lawyer vigorously fighting for the possibility of parole for a guy convicted of repeatedly raping a girl for years. The Atty argued that the rapes occurring between certain dates were not taken into consideration regarding the sentencing….I couldn’t help but think about the POWs that are serving LWOP for victimless “plant crimes”

The panel of judges referred to a tentative ruling and as I understand it, these arguments seldom have much of an impact on the outcome. I did however find it interesting to see the informal dialogue between the judges and attys.

The appellate court did not rule with regards to and evidence or details of the trial but rather to the ruling that Judge Cassani made as she pointed out the many examples where Judge Sheldon denied due process in the trial.

The State’s atty was a dark haired squat woman that rambled on saying very little but “we believe that it was a fair trial.” She went on to rant about two of the many points brought up by Judge Cassani, the refusal of Judge Sheldon to allow time to prepare a defense and the limiting of witnesses… she claimed that We never disclosed who the other witnesses were and that it’s a tactic to delay trials and that the judge had every right to deny these things.  She claimed that because we did not repeatedly request these things that we were not entitled to them. The justice responded “if you raise an issue and don’t keep complaining, then it doesn’t count?  State’s atty further claimed that judge Cassani was wrong about every point brought up in her ruling and we were indeed given due process.

With regard to the limiting of witnesses, the justice said, if you have a judge that appears to be favoring the opposing side, would you push the limit?

The final tell was when Justice Chaney said “The real issue here is was there a denial of a fair trial. Our standard here is Was Judge Cassani abusing her discretion in rendering her decision? I don’t see it. I don’t know about my panel members……

My Atty John Steinberg asked the panel if they had any questions and they said no. he submitted.

 

We went downstairs and talked for a minute. John said that he is used to having to defend some very bad people and when he got this case, he was deeply offended by the trial. He had never seen such a lack of due process and he enjoyed the long hours required to prepare for today. He explained that judge Sheldon seriously disrespected this court’s ruling with his behavior and that if he hadn’t retired after this case that he was prepared to file a complaint with the judicial review board. He went on to explain that they will likely publish their opinion within a month or two but there is still a process till the stay on the trial is lifted.  Nothing is certain but they were very transparent regarding their opinion and that the da’s office was seriously spanked here..

He couldn’t understand why they had such a hard on for me but recognized the reputation of the long beach court system as being systemically corrupt. He went on to note that their job is to ensure justice ,not just get convictions but too many times they go to the “dark side.”  He told me that Los Angeles County currently has a policy of not prosecuting collectives and if they continue with my case, there would be a violation of equal protection. He was going to inform my public defender of the memo.

Finally, John was impressed by the support and even more when he became aware that his assumption that they were all members of the collective was wrong and that in fact, I didn’t know any of the supporters besides my wife before the raid that launched this fiasco.  His final words were that if this ended up in the worst possible way and I was to face a sentencing judge, “all you need to do is show him your life’s work” I smiled and told him that was my “ace in the hole” and that I only hoped never to have to use it….

For those of you that got to the end of this, I want to point out this …. If you haven’t yet sat in support of a cannabis defendant, please consider doing so as you will not only make a real impact in a positive way but likely see something you never imagined and who knows maybe you’ll get the “activist bug too”

Thank you to everyone that has decided to be a part of the solution!

Blessings

Joe