Friday July 25, 2008
Friday July 25, 2008
Update from the Trial of Charles C. Lynch
It was a grueling week as the side bars and objections dominated the court room. As noted before, potential jurors were being dismissed at an alarming rate as they stood by their beliefs in California Medical Marijuana Laws. One juror mentioned her understanding of ‘jury nullification’ and the prosecution objected and the courtroom was cleared as an angry judge and prosecutor blamed defense lawyers for the juror’s unexpected mention of the taboo nullification theory. Finally a jury was empanelled and sworn in, this was the official start of the trial.
Next Judge Wu spent considerable time deciding whether the defense’s sealed documents describing Lynch’s legal defense strategy would have to be revealed to the prosecutor. As the court room waited in stressful anticipation, the Judge finally decided he would allow the details of the defense to be under seal but the general concept would have to be revealed to the prosecution. As Judge Wu explained that Lynch would be allowed to argue a defense of Entrapment by Estoppel by a Federal official, the prosecutors fumed and demanded more information. Judge Wu calmly overruled the objections. Judge Wu also ruled that if at some point that it appears Lynch’s defense is not reasonable at that time the Jury would be directed not to consider the evidence in their proceedings. He also explained to the prosecution that the evidence before him was compelling and mentioned the prosecutors should consider a plea deal. Prosecutors mentioned that a plea deal had been offered but was refused by Lynch. Lynch had refused the plea deal as it turned him into a felon, put him at jeopardy of zero to twenty years in jail and zero to 4 million dollars in fines. Finally after a flurry of more side bars and objections the indictment was read to the jury and opening statements commenced.
The government during their opening statement depicted Lynch as a Drug King Pin selling to minors making millions of dollars. Under Federal Law anybody under 21 is considered a minor. They also alleged a conspiracy by a former employee of the dispensary who had apparently sold to undercover agents outside of the dispensary. The defense on the other hand talked of Lynch’s Law Abidingness and clean criminal history. At one point during the Defense’s opening statement, Reuven Cohen, Lynch’s Federal Public Defender wrote four telephone numbers down on a white board before the jury and told them that Charles Lynch will testify that in October 2005 before he opened a Marijuana Dispensary he called the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and that there were documents in the hundreds of pages of discovery provided to the government that would prove this. Prosecutors objected and another side bar ensued. Finally the defense completed its opening statements and the jury was removed from the courtroom again as prosecutors stood in anger and dismay at the surprise announcement of the defense. Prosecutors demanded more information but the defense attorneys refused to assist the prosecutor in his paralegal tasks. At one point the prosecutor boiled over and it nearly turned into a physical brawl as the prosecutor demanded the defense attorneys tell him where the supporting documents were located in the discovery. Defense attorneys refused and eventually the judge gave the prosecutor one page from the sealed documents that contained the telephone records of Charles Lynch’s home phone from where he called the DEA. The DEA agent in the court room, Rachel Burkdoll, scrambled for reception on her Blackberry cell phone to call the numbers on Lynch’s telephone statement.
The prosecution finally started calling in witnesses and began with San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputies testifying of their surveillance of the facility and patients of the dispensary. They talked about informants that became members of the dispensary and how they were provided medical cannabis and plants from the dispensary. They submitted as evidence photographs of the business location in Downtown Morro Bay and packaging and products they received from the dispensary. They also submitted a recording of an undercover sting operation relating to one of Lynch’s employees which contained explicit and derogatory statements made towards women by the informant. On cross examination Defense Attorney John Littrell questioned the SLO Sheriffs deputies who stumbled on questions as to their jurisdiction in the City of Morro Bay and to other details of their allegations.
At one point Littrell used the overhead projector to zoom in on the prosecution’s evidence photo of products received from the dispensary and it clearly showed the statement “For Medical Use only”. As the jury looked at the big screen TV before them Littrell pointed to the words “For Medical Use Only” and asked the Sheriff’s Deputy if he could read what that said. Prosecutors blew their top objecting and the Judge cleared the court of the Jury and ordered a side bar. While the jury cleared the room the prosecutor quickly approached the projector and violently pulled the evidence photo from the screen. Littrell demanded the photo had already been placed into evidence and to be left as it was. The prosecutor pulled the paper from the projection and put it back on his desk. At the side bar Defense attorneys were angrily reminded that “Medical Marijuana” is not allowed as a defense in Federal Court and any further references to “Medical Marijuana” and sanctions would be imposed. Also during the proceedings DEA agent Burkdoll was reprimanded by the judge for parading around in front of the jury with a large box of marijuana that had yet to be submitted as evidence.
In the audience during the hearing was an LA Times reporter Scott Glover who watched most of the proceedings and published a story on the LA Times website located at
Also in the audience on the defense’s side of the court were members of reason.tv who have been following the case and are in support of Lynch. Drew Carey hosted a documentary on Lynch’s story which features one of his patients Owen Beck who suffers from cancer and had his leg amputated because of the disease. The story has drawn sympathy from many of it’s viewers and can be seen at the following links:
Also Lynch’s home town newspaper the New Times has published a front page story about another of Lynch’s patients who is suing the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges for taking her medical records and denying her safe and legal access to medical marijuana as allowed by California State Law. The story can be found at
The prosecution’s side of the court room remained empty for the most part with an occasional United States Marshal Court Room attendant taking a short break from the proceedings.
For more information visit Charles C. Lynch’s website at: