Pubdate: Sat,  6 May 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author:  Kimberly Bolander


A Redding mother and son expecting to have their medicinal marijuana
conviction overturned Friday were sentenced to jail and probation time
instead. They immediately filed a motion to appeal their case.

James Hall, 39, and his mother, Lydia Hall, 62, were found guilty in
February by a jury of conspiracy to cultivate marijuana. The jury
acquitted them of growing marijuana and absolved Jim Hall of growing
marijuana for sale.

On Friday, Shasta County Superior Court Judge Bradley Boeckman
sentenced Jim Hall to 75 days in Shasta County Jail. Lydia Hall will
serve no more jail time; she has previously served the single day she
was sentenced to.

Both will be on probation for three years. However, Boeckman suspended
their sentences until an appeal is finalized on their case.

Meanwhile, the Halls may smoke marijuana again -- if they get new
recommendations from their doctors, Boeckman ruled.

''I have to tell you quite frankly that there was room for this jury
to disregard the medical approvals for both defendants,'' he said.

Boeckman said their doctors' approvals were outdated. He refused to
honor them as legitimate documents in the future.

The Halls testified in court that they are medicinal marijuana
patients and that under the Compassionate Use Act, passed by voters in
1996, they are protected from prosecution.

Both had recommendations from their doctors approving pot smoking as
medical treatment for Jim Hall's chronic back pain and his mother's
glaucoma. Sheriff's deputies found 240 plants growing at their home,
prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Tim Kam said.

Before the sentencing, Jim Hall's attorney, Eric Berg, argued for more
than an hour on several last-minute motions. About 25 medicinal
marijuana supporters listened from the gallery, one wearing a shirt
showing a large marijuana leaf logo.

Boeckman denied Berg's pleas for a new trial, acquittals and dismissal
of the charges for each defendant.

Berg said the jury's findings in favor of conspiracy were inconsistent
with their decision to acquit the Halls of marijuana

''As one juror aptly put it, you cannot criminally conspire to grow
lemon trees because lemon trees are not illegal to grow,'' Berg said.
Likewise, the Halls could not be guilty of conspiracy to grow pot if
the jury's verdict said pot growing, for them, is legal, Berg argued.

Berg also claimed he has sworn declarations from two jurors who said
they didn't understand the jury instructions regarding the marijuana

''The jurors believed that somehow, the Compassionate Use Act was only
a small umbrella that protected (the Halls) from cultivating and
possessing and did not protect them from conspiracy,'' he said.

Kam countered that the jury's finding shows members believed the Halls
planned to grow a large crop of marijuana -- more than they would need
for medicinal use -- but their harvest didn't live up to

Both Boeckman and Kam said the law allows for a jury's verdict to be

After those motions, Berg put both Halls on the witness stand, as well
as Jim Hall's doctor, to testify about what a jail term would do to
their physical health. Hall's doctor said his patient's pain would
likely be worsened in jail.

In addition, Lydia Hall testified that if she was sentenced on the
felony charge,, she would lose her job of nine years with Pacific Bell.

Boeckman agreed that both Halls suffer serious ailments, but he did
not excuse them from breaking the law. In the end, he ruled the Halls
weren't simply medical marijuana users.

''If I thought for a moment that that's all these defendants did and
that was their only purpose, I'd be giving them a new trial. But that
is not what the evidence supports ... the Halls' use was more than for
medicinal use,'' he said.

Boeckman's sentence was more lenient than the Probation Department's
recommendation that Jim Hall should serve 150 days in jail and Lydia
Hall, 90 days.
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