Pubdate: Mon,  4 Nov 2002
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe,CA)
Contact:  2002 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Author: William Ferchland
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Note: For more on the Macosko case go to


A judge being figuratively fired, attorneys spitting venom at each other
outside the courtroom, discussions about "shake" and "bud," a dread-locked
man in shackles.

The preliminary hearing for Matthew Scott Macosko, who carries a medical
marijuana recommendation, lasted nearly three hours after defense attorney
J. David Nick asked for a different judge. Macosko is accused of possessing
11 ounces of marijuana for sale.

His attorney said he had a bad feeling about retired Judge Terrance Finney.

"After doing this for years, you just read the tea leaves," said Nick, an
attorney based in San Francisco, about sizing up Finney and wanting another
judge Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court.

After sending most of his afternoon calendar upstairs to Finney, Judge
Jerald Lasarow listened to testimony from a pair of South Lake Tahoe police
officers and a marijuana expert before halting the hearing and continuing it
to Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

Macosko faces up to four years in state prison for the possession of sale

Deputy District Attorney Mike Atwell called officers Robert Refer and Chuck
Owens to testify about the warrant arrest and the finding of marijuana,
paraphernalia, three medical marijuana certificates, a suspected payroll
sheet and nearly $1,500 in Macosko's home, a converted school bus painted

Macosko told officers they could search his vehicle because he holds medical
marijuana recommendations. The recommendation is for severe anxiety disorder
stemming from childhood abuse, Macosko said in an earlier jailhouse

On Oct. 16, during the regular 5 a.m. briefing, South Lake Tahoe patrol
officers learned of a misdemeanor warrant for Macosko just released by the
district attorney's office. The warrant regarded a false address given to
authorities in Gardnerville on Macosko's Nevada driver's license.

Macosko, a genial 30-year-old eager to talk about marijuana, said he uses
his friend's residence in the 700 block of Tillman to take showers. South
Lake Tahoe authorities said the residence, as stated on the license, doesn't
exist. Macosko's attorney said the address was a misprint; the residence is
in the 900 block of Tillman.

Details from Refer brought snickers from Macosko's supporters because his
name is pronounced the same as a slang term for marijuana. Refer told the
court that on Oct. 16 about 3 p.m. he circled around the bus parked on Lodi

Refer said he noticed a strong odor of marijuana emitting from the bus.
Officer Chuck Owens arrived to assist with a search of the 30-foot-long

Midway through Refer's testimony he asked to check his report regarding a
witness statement. Hearing that, Nick threw up his arms, exclaiming he
didn't have the report. Nor did Atwell. A 10-minute recess was called so the
report could be copied.

During the break, Nick accused Atwell of having and hiding the report, used
a profanity and walked out of the courtroom. Atwell stormed after him.

"Look, you loudmouth" I didn't have the report, Atwell said.

The two exchanged heated words before deputies of the court split the two.
Tempers cooled and court resumed.

Refer said the witness saw cars pulling up to the bus and driving away after
Macosko allegedly provided them with unidentifiable material in plastic

During cross-examination, Nick peppered Refer with questions about whether
he answered Macosko's cell phone, baiting callers by impersonating Macosko
so they would come and buy marijuana. Refer denied the accusation.

For his only witness of the day, Nick called Christopher Conrad, author of
two books on hemp and an accepted court expert on medical marijuana. Conrad
disputed the marijuana being for sale and said it is a legitimate amount for
medical use.

After the preliminary hearing, Lasarow reduced Macosko's bail from $100,000
to $35,000. The day after the continued preliminary hearing, Macosko's trial
of furnishing marijuana to minors will begin. A separate matter involving
marijuana being mailed to Kentucky will follow.

Macosko faces up to seven years in prison for the furnishing to minors
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