Pubdate: Wed, 01 May 2002
Source: Appeal-Democrat (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Harold Kruger, Appeal-Democrat


Says Following Judge's Order Would Violate Federal Law

Doyle and Belinda Satterfield left the Yuba County Courthouse empty-handed 
Tuesday after Sheriff Virginia Black, defying a court order, refused to 
release their medical marijuana.

"The issue is I'm not going to commit a federal crime by giving away 
marijuana," Black said.

Since marijuana is a narcotic under federal law, said the sheriff, "I can't 
in good conscience hand that marijuana over to the Satterfields."

Black's position puts her at odds with Yuba County Judge James Curry, who 
on Monday ordered that the marijuana seized last August from the 
Satterfields be returned.

"I now have a state judge ordering me to commit a federal crime, and I have 
problems with that," Black said. "I'm going to look at what my options are. 
It is not my intent to help anyone perpetrate a crime."

Justin Scott, Doyle Satterfield's lawyer, said he is weighing his options, 
which could include suing Black or asking a judge to find her in contempt 
of court.

Scott said he'll give Black until Thursday to return the marijuana.

"I wanted to know why," Scott said. "I haven't been given an answer to the 
question why. Why do you think you can ignore a judge's order? Any other 
person, besides a police officer, would be in jail for ignoring a judge's 

Black wasn't concerned by Scott's deadline.

"I guess we'll see what happens Thursday," she said.

Belinda Satterfield said she tried to talk to the sheriff when she came out 
of her office Tuesday morning but was rebuffed.

"I went to talk to her, and she said, 'I'm not going to talk to you. I'll 
see you in court,'" Belinda Satterfield said.

Said Black, "I told Belinda I wouldn't discuss it with her. She has an 
attorney, and this would be discussed in court."

Curry, citing Proposition 215, ordered that the marijuana - 37 plants and 
41/2 pounds of dried material - be returned to the Satterfields.

"He didn't like it. He didn't agree with it, but it was the law and he 
followed it," Scott said. "He had enough courage to follow the law. That's 
what the sheriff ought to do."

Black called Proposition 215 "an ugly thing."

She also said she was unaware of legal efforts to return the marijuana to 
the Satterfields until her evidence clerk was served with the order Monday.

"It would have been nice if the judge or D.A. had talked to me," she said. 
"I didn't know this was going to court. Nobody had bothered to tell me. All 
of a sudden, wham, it was on me, not that it would have made a speck of 

She said Curry "is going to do what he thinks he has to do," and "I will do 
what I believe to be the right thing to do."

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

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

"The ball's in her court," said attorney Jud Waggoman, who represents 
Belinda Satterfield. "The judge has issued an order. She's been served with 
the order. I don't know."

Waggoman said he was "perplexed as to why she's not following the orders of 
the court."
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