HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Jurors Who Convicted Marijuana Grower Seek New Trial
Pubdate: Wed, 05 Feb 2003
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2003 The New York Times Company
Author: Dean E. Murphy
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SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 4 - In an unusual show of solidarity with the man they 
convicted last week, five jurors in the trial of a medicinal marijuana 
advocate issued a public apology to him today and demanded that the judge 
grant him a new trial.

The jurors said they had been unaware that the defendant, Ed Rosenthal, was 
growing marijuana for medicinal purposes, allowed since 1996 under 
California state law, when they convicted him on three federal counts of 
cultivation and conspiracy. He is to be sentenced in June and faces a 
minimum of five years in prison.

"I'm sorry doesn't begin to cover it," said one of the jurors, Marney 
Craig, a property manager in Novato. "It's the most horrible mistake I've 
ever made in my entire life. And I don't think that I personally will ever 
recover from this."

The judge in the case, Judge Charles R. Breyer of Federal District Court, 
had barred Mr. Rosenthal's defense from mentioning the state law because he 
was indicted under federal law, which does not allow the growing of 
marijuana for any purpose.

When he was arrested last February, Mr. Rosenthal was cultivating starter 
plants in a warehouse that were to be distributed to seriously ill patients 
by medical marijuana clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Rosenthal, 
who lives in Oakland, was acting in his official capacity as "an officer of 
the city" under Oakland's medical marijuana ordinance, Oakland officials said.

In a statement read outside the federal courthouse here, the five jurors, 
joined by an alternate, said they would not have voted to convict Mr. 
Rosenthal if they had been allowed to consider the California law. The 
group said they represented the views of at least two others who had served 
on the 12-member panel.

"In good faith, we as jury members allowed ourselves to be blindfolded to 
weigh the evidence before us," the statement said. "But in this trial, the 
prosecution was allowed to put all of the evidence and testimony on one of 
the scales, while the defense was not allowed to put its evidence and 
testimony on the other scale. Therefore we were not allowed as a jury to 
properly weigh the case."

One by one, the jurors stepped up to a lectern and apologized to Mr. 
Rosenthal, his wife, Jane Klein, and their daughter, Justine, who stood nearby.

"We as a jury truly were kept in the dark," said Charles Sackett of 
Sebastopol, who was the jury foreman. "I never want to see this happen again."

In a striking demonstration of how deep the divide remains between federal 
and California laws on medicinal uses of marijuana, the jurors were joined 
by the San Francisco district attorney and two members of the San Francisco 
Board of Supervisors.

Eight other states allow the sick and dying to smoke or grow marijuana with 
a doctor's recommendation.

"This is really a travesty," Matt Gonzalez, the board's president, said of 
the court's decision to exclude the state law from Mr. Rosenthal's defense. 
The jurors "have been violated by this court," Mr. Gonzalez said.

Before holding the news conference, the jurors attended a hearing during 
which the United States attorney's office asked that Mr. Rosenthal's bail 
be revoked. Judge Breyer, ruled, however, that Mr. Rosenthal was not likely 
to flee and let him remain free on $200,000 bond pending his sentencing.

Though none of the jurors made their feelings known to the judge at the 
hearing, where the five of them and the alternate sat at the front of the 
courtroom, Mr. Sackett said he was certain their presence helped persuade 
the judge to allow Mr. Rosenthal to remain free.

"We did not say a word," Mr. Sackett said. "We were not disrespectful. We 
just wanted to make a statement."

Mr. Rosenthal's lawyers said they had filed a motion to have the indictment 
against Mr. Rosenthal dismissed. If that fails, they said, they will file a 
motion for a new trial. If that should also fail, the lawyers said, they 
will appeal the verdict to the United States Court of Appeals.
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