Monday, April 16, 2007

Ed Rosenthal used to grow medical marijuana in Oakland, California. That was before his arrest and conviction on Federal charges of growing marijuana. At trial he wasn't allowed to provide the defense he wanted to provide -- that he was actually an official in the medical marijuana distribution program of the City of Oakland and his cultivation activity was part of his duties in that position.

Although that argument probably wasn't really a defense based on the legality of his activities, it certainly would have been a strong argument for jury nullification. It made the political nature of his charges pretty clear. It really was more of a political case than a criminal case.

But, he wasn't allowed to make that argument to the jury and was convicted. A sympathetic Federal Judge sentenced him to one day. He appealed the conviction, again as much for political reasons as for personal reasons. One of the jurors had consulted an attorney about the charges and that provided a basis for the conviction being overturned, for jury misconduct. Juries are not supposed to consult outside sources and are supposed to rule on the facts, not the law.

So the guy has been sentenced and has served his time. The Feds want to retry him. Even if they convict him, he can't serve any extra time, he's already served his time for the offense. But, Federal prosecutors really don't have anything worthwhile to do.


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