Pubdate: Tue, 02 May 2000
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Sacramento Bee
Contact:  P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento CA 95852
Author: Wayne Wilson, Bee Staff Writer
Cited: Steve Kubby:


The medical marijuana trial of one-time gubernatorial candidate Steven
Wynn Kubby and his wife, Michele, is beginning to resemble a game of
musical chairs with judges and attorneys dropping out as each side
maneuvers for advantage.

The latest casualty is Placer County Superior Court Judge James L.
Roeder, who was peremptorily bounced Monday as trial judge by Steve
Kubby to give two new defense attorneys time to prepare a
counterattack against prosecutors.

In a criminal case, each principal has a right to one peremptory
challenge, a legal move that is often used to buy time when
preparation for trial is incomplete.

The defense Monday was rebuffed when Carolyn M. Hagin, a
representative of Kubby's recently retained counsel, J. Tony Serra,
asked Judge Roeder for a short delay. She said Serra was busy
defending a criminal case in San Jose and Michele had just recently
obtained the services of a new lawyer, J. David Nick.

Neither Serra nor Nick was ready to start trial, she

Roeder denied Hagin's motion for a continuance, but he accepted a
Kubby affidavit challenging his assignment as trial judge and ordered
both sides to report to Judge John L. Cosgrove for the start of trial
Thursday morning.

Cosgrove is the fifth judge to be assigned the Kubby

Last July, prior to the original trial date, Michele Kubby used her
peremptory to bar Presiding Judge Larry D. Gaddis from handling the
case, and the prosecution then challenged Judge Joseph W. O'Flaherty.

A visiting judge, Robert G. Vonasek of Orland, started jury selection
last August, but a few days into the process Michele Kubby began
experiencing complications with her pregnancy. The trial was put on
hold until Roeder took the reins in February.

The Kubbys decided to hire a new defense team in March when it became
clear that the attorneys representing them at that time, Dale E. Wood
and Joseph S. Farina, could better serve them as witnesses at trial.

They outlined their reasons for the substitution of counsel at an
in-camera hearing before Judge Roeder, and Roeder approved the move.

The Kubbys are charged with two counts of conspiracy, possession of
marijuana for sale, cultivation of marijuana and five other drug
possession counts following the Jan. 19, 1999, discovery of 265 plants
at their Squaw Valley home.

The couple contend their indoor garden was grown for medicinal

Kubby, 53, a cancer patient, ran for governor as a Libertarian
candidate in 1998 and played an instrumental role in the 1996 passage
of Proposition 215, a ballot measure that allows for the
doctor-recommended use of marijuana in California. He claims that pot
has kept him alive for 15 years.

Michele Kubby, 34, had used marijuana with a physician's endorsement
to treat a chronic stomach ailment before her pregnancy.

The prosecution dismisses the Kubbys' medical claims as irrelevant to
the criminal counts.
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