Pubdate: Tue, 05 Mar 2002
Source: Appeal-Democrat (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Harold Kruger, Appeal-Democrat
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Judge Delays Making Decision Until Next Week

A Linda couple will have to wait another week to find out if they'll get 
their medical marijuana back.

Doyle and Belinda Satterfield have filed a motion in Yuba County Superior 
Court seeking the return of the marijuana, which they use as medicine to 
treat their ailments.

The Satterfields were arrested last August and charged with illegal 
marijuana cultivation. The charges were dropped in January.

"They were complying with the medical marijuana law at the time it was 
seized," said Jud Waggoman, attorney for Belinda Satterfield.

"We were able to show to the DA's Office to prove it was being possessed 
and used for medicinal purposes in compliance with the Compassionate Use 
Act (Proposition 215). As a result of it being dismissed, then the law 
requires that it be returned," Waggoman said.

The Satterfields were in court Monday for their hearing. Judge James Curry 
rescheduled the matter to next Monday to allow District Attorney Pat 
McGrath more time to respond in writing to their motion.

McGrath said requests like the Satterfields' are becoming more and more 
common throughout the state.

This is the first time such a matter will be heard by a judge in Yuba 
County, he said.

These types of cases demonstrate the bind Proposition 215 puts law 
enforcement agencies in, McGrath said.

If a judge orders them to return the marijuana and they refuse they are in 
contempt, McGrath said. If they comply, they are in violation of federal 
law, he said.

Similar cases throughout the state have met with different results. In some 
cases the judge has ruled the marijuana is contraband and has refused to 
order its return, McGrath said.

In others, the judge has ordered the marijuana returned and the seizing 
agency has gone to federal court to obtain a seizure order, which 
supercedes rulings by the local judge, or the agency has returned the 
marijuana to the judge rather than the party it was seized from, he said.

However, there may be little left for the Satterfields to collect should 
the ruling go their way.

When a marijuana garden is seized, the law allows the seizing agency to 
take five representative samples from different plants and to destroy the 
rest, McGrath said.

"It's typically done in every type of case that involves marijuana 
cultivation," he said. "I would be surprised if NET (Yuba-Sutter Narcotic 
Enforcement Team) had not done that."

Doyle Satterfield needs the marijuana for his insomnia and arthritis, 
Waggoman said. His wife uses it because she has chemotherapy treatments for 
breast cancer.

"All we're doing is asking the court to order law enforcement, the person 
holding it, we're asking that law enforcement return to them what's 
rightfully theirs," Waggoman said.

Harold Kruger reports on people and events happening in Yuba and Sutter 
counties and courts.
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