Pubdate: Tue, 9 Feb 1999
Source: Auburn Journal
Copyright: 1999 Auburn Journal
Contact:  1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603
Author: Patrick McCartney, Journal City Editor
Note: Our newshawk writes: "Dear Richard et al, This is a change in
direction of the case against Steve and Michele Kubby. Less open and no
chance for a judge to dismiss the case before trial. Pat."


Former Libertarian candidate Steve Kubby's marijuana cultivation case will
be presented to a criminal grand jury, a Placer County prosecutor confirmed
on Monday. The grand jury hearing is set for Feb. 17. With the decision,
the district attorney's office will withdraw the existing indictment of
marijuana cultivate and possession for sale against Steve Kubby and his
wife Michele.

The Kubbys were arrested Jan. 19 at their Olympic Valley home by the
multiagency North Tahoe Task Force, which seized 265 plants growing in four
rooms. Steve Kubby, 52, openly espoused the use of medical marijuana for
his rare adrenal cancer during a 1998 campaign for governor. He was
instrumental in qualifying California's successful Proposition 215 in 1996,
which allows the use of marijuana with a physician's approval.

Christopher Cattran, a Placer County deputy district attorney, said
criminal grand juries are often used by the county's prosecutors. "We view
the grand jury as a body of independent people who will impartially review
all the evidence and render a fair decision," Cattran said. "It's not
unusual, especially in Placer County, for us to go in front of a grand jury."

Like the preliminary hearing it replaces, a grand jury is required to
determine whether enough evidence exists to refer a case to trial. Dale
Wood, a Tahoe City attorney representing the Kubbys, said the decision
would deprive Kubby of a public hearing of his case. Grand jury proceedings
are secret, and the transcript is usually sealed. In addition, defendants
are not allowed to be represented by counsel in the proceedings, which
serves as an alternative for preliminary hearings by a magistrate in court.

Wood called the grand jury hearing an "archaic" procedure, and said he had
advised the Kubbys not to attend.

"We are deprived of public and open hearings," Wood said of the grand jury
process. "A first-year law student can get an indictment out of a grand
jury." To compensate for the defendant's lack of legal counsel, Cattran
said the prosecutor carries an extra duty in proceedings.

"It is the responsibility of the (prosecution) to present all sides of the
case to the grand jury," Cattran said. "It is our responsibility to present
all exculpatory evidence to the jurors."

The Placer district attorney also sought a grand jury hearing for another
recent medical marijuana case, involving Rocklin dentist Michael Baldwin
and his wife Georgia. There case is pending. 
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