Stoned in Court

March 01, 2007

Joshua Zaffos, Rocky Mountain Chronicle

A lawyer for Fort Collins medical marijuana providers will still have to square off against the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office this summer.

At a Feb. 26 hearing, County Chief Judge James Hiatt denied the request of Brian Vicente to remove the D.A.’s office from the trial of his clients, James and Lisa Masters, medical marijuana patients and caregivers facing drug cultivation and distribution charges.

Vicente claimed that Deputy D.A. Thomas Lynch, who has worked on the Masters’ case, infiltrated his Jan. 25 seminar on defending medical marijuana cases. Vicente also alleged that Lynch might have stolen his manual, “How to Defend Medical Marijuana Patients in Colorado” (see “Tokin’ opposition,” from the Feb. 1 issue).

“These actions and circumstances have rendered unlikely that the Masters will receive a fair trial,” Vicente told the judge at the hearing. After listening to both sides, Judge Hiatt ruled it “extremely speculative” that Lynch had gained detailed information about Vicente’s planned defense of the Masters or any other insight that he otherwise couldn’t obtain while studying in a law library.

Following the hearing, Vicente held firm to his concerns, saying, “It’s my contention that they learned more of our strategy than they’re authorized to know. We’re going to continue to fight this and redouble our efforts.”

Vicente and medical marijuana supporters also claimed that the D.A.’s office had requested a gag order to silence them from speaking to the press.

D.A. spokesperson Linda Jensen responded that the district attorney’s office only requested that all parties refrain from making “extrajudicial statements” outside of court, in compliance with laws of professional conduct, which attorneys are supposed to abide regardless. The judge signed the order on Feb. 14.

The Masters’ trial is scheduled for June 4.

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