Pubdate: Thu, 17 Feb 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author:  Maline Hazle


A Redding mother and son were growing too much marijuana for their own
medical use, otherwise Shasta County wouldn't have put them on trial,
Deputy District Attorney Tim Kam told jurors Wednesday.

''No one here is disagreeing with the Compassionate Use Act -- it's the
law,'' and people with doctor's recommendations have ''an absolute
right'' to grow and use marijuana under that 1996 law, Kam said in
closing arguments in the 3-week-old trial.

But Kam contends that Jim Hall, 38, and his mother, Lydia Hall, 62,
abused that law and should be convicted of cultivation and conspiracy
to cultivate marijuana. Jim Hall also is charged of possession of
marijuana for sale.

''This entire case is based on lies -- lies under oath,'' countered the
Halls' attorney, Eric Berg of Redding. He went on to argue that Shasta
County sheriff's Detective Jerry Shearman, the prosecution's chief
witness, ''told lie upon lie upon lie'' in his testimony.

Jurors began their deliberations in the case late Wednesday afternoon,
but left the courthouse about 45 minutes later without having reached
a verdict. Deliberations are scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. today.

Prosecutor Kam opened the day's arguments, followed by Berg. Kam then
got to argue briefly again before Superior Court Judge Bradley
Boeckman handed the case to jurors.

As Berg argued he placed three charts in front of the 10-woman,
two-man jury: one outlining arguments that Jim Hall had no intent to
sell marijuana; a second headed ''Shearman's Lies;'' and a third
quoting Bible verses about herbs and lies.

Kam's prosecution of the Halls relied heavily on calculations by
Shearman, a sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Team member, that the two
marijuana gardens at the Halls' house would have yielded 24 pounds of
pot a year.

''He was growing way too much for his use. ... That is the simple
truth of this case,'' Kam told jurors.

The prosecutor went on to say the Halls' ''sophisticated'' growing
techniques and supplies, including grow lights, a hydroponic garden, a
venting system, fertilizers and bug sprays, showed that Jim Hall knew
what he was doing and meant to produce a huge crop.

Over and over Kam mentioned Shearman's 24-pound-a-year crop yield
estimate -- a figure Shearman based on four crops a year.

Over and over he referred to pictures of the gardens and the 244
seedlings sheriff's deputies confiscated from the Halls on March 16.

''By his own statements the defendant uses less than two pounds of
marijuana a year,'' Kam said, later asking, ''what's he going to do
with the excess?''

Lydia Hall testified that she didn't particularly like marijuana, Kam
argued, going on to suggest that she sought a doctor's marijuana
recommendation for glaucoma and migraines only to provide her son with
another excuse for growing pot.

''Money is tight for Mr. Hall -- his mom is paying all the expenses. He
knows the street value of marijuana,'' and the six small bags of
processed marijuana confiscated by deputies were packaged for sale,
Kam said.

''Don't let him hide behind the law to grow more marijuana than he
needs,'' Kam urged jurors. ''That's not fair'' to patients who are
growing pot for their medical needs.

Berg, his voice sometimes booming, sometimes dripping outrage, moved
around the courtroom as he talked -- standing in the witness box when
he mentioned testimony, placing a hand on Jim Hall's shoulder as he
talked of his clients' maladies, dipping into a shoe box full of the
tiny, and now dry, plants uprooted from the Halls' gardens.

He contended that Shearman misled the jury on several counts,
including plant yield, number of potential productive plants
confiscated, and growing conditions in the uninsulated garage.

''He thinks you're going to believe him because he's been a policeman
for 14 years,'' Berg told jurors, going on to attack Shearman's
expertise. ''If he says it, that don't make it true.''

Kam's ''entire case is based on 'ifs' and 'buts,''' suggestions about
crops that might have been, Berg continued.

''I have never heard of or seen two people charged for plants that
didn't exist, for plants that exist only in the mind of a police
officer,'' Berg said, reminding jurors that Shearman's 24-pound-a-year
figure was based on future crops.

But the law puts no limit on the number of plants the Halls could grow
because they had doctors' recommendations, Berg added.

And Kam produced no evidence -- no money, no traffic, no accurate
scales, no calls from would-be buyers during the eight hours
investigators were at the Hall house, Berg argued.

''Some of you may be persuaded by the argument that Mr. Hall is a poor
man. ... He's poor, so he just wanted to get rich by selling
marijuana,'' Berg acknowledged. ''It's not a crime to be poor ... but
if he had $5,000 in cash Mr. Kam would argue, 'Look, he got $5,000
from selling drugs ...'

''If Mr. Hall was a millionaire he wouldn't have to spend time nursing
plants -- he'd buy it.''

Reporter Maline Hazle can be reached at 225-8266 or  ---
MAP posted-by: Allan  Wilkinson