Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jan 2003
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2003 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Warren Hinckle, Examiner Associate Editor


AT 8:40 LAST NIGHT, I had the last interview with Ed Rosenthal, I guess.

If U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer sticks to his judicial guns, he will
issue a gag order Thursday barring the defendant from talking to the likes
of me.

I spoke with Rosenthal on Wednesday night at his home in Oakland. Let the
condemned man in this absurdist federal pot trial -- in which the robed
judge is ever day morphing more into a nonsense character out of Godot --
have his last words:

"He hates me."

"Breyer has acted with utter contempt for me."

"He's been blatant about it."

Should the gag order hold -- newspaper lawyers, including the lawyer for the
Examiner, at which the gag order is directed, will argue against it Thursday
- -- these may be Rosenthal's last words on the matter of his fate.

What did Rosenthal do to get in such doo-doo with a preening federal judge?

He wrote books -- many press accounts omit the fact that Rosenthal is the
Tolstoy of marijuana writers, as he has penned a half dozen volumes on the
subject. He only actually grew pot for medical marijuana purposes because
the City of Oakland asked him to do it and supervised the project and the
cultivation, carrying out the dictates of California voters who had approved
the use of medical marijuana.

Oakland officials were lined up to testify that Rosenthal only did what they
asked him to do under state law. But Breyer wouldn't let them testify.

The federal judge forbade the jury from even hearing that California law
approved of what Rosenthal was doing.

This myopic judge -- no Learned Hand, he -- insisted that the only thing
presented to the jury was that Rosenthal grew some pot plants.

I have covered civil rights cases in the deep South in the frenetic '60s and
seen your usual demonstrer busted for walking across a sidewalk treated with
more fairness and civility by Southern judges than Judge Breyer has shown
the accused pot fiend Rosenthal.

It is an axiom of American civility that all respect the bench. The
corollary is that the judiciary behaves in a manner that deserves respect.

Judge Breyer has not conducted himself in a manner -- outside the duties of
respect -- that only brings community ridicule to the bench he sits upon.

"I'm caught in a crucible between federal and California law on medical
marijuana," Rosenthal said.

The accused in his last legal statements said Judge Breyer had allowed the
stiff-backed federal prosecutors -- let us not forget than Attorney General
John Ashcroft draped the breasts of a marble statue -- to "weed" the jury
pool of objectivity.

"One of the jurors weeded out was a friend of the judge -- a medical doctor
- -- who said that the federal law was wrong and that he had proscribed
medical marijuana for his patients," Rosenthal said last night. (cq)

Enough of this, already. Breyer is making a national late-night-TV fool of
the federal bench in San Francisco and disrespecting the discerning among
his own.

Gag orders. Jurors told to imagine there was no state law that made what
Rosenthal was charged with perfectly legal.

This judge had best get an eye on his place in judicial history, else he may
end up ridiculed by cartoonists the way Judge Hoffman ended up a caricature
in the trial of the Chicago 7 in the late '60s.

That would be disrespectful to the bench. San Francisco does not wish to be.
Shakespeare had it long ago that if you act the fool in the robes of
authority, you will be seen as a fool without the robes.
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MAP posted-by: Josh