Judge Sets Date for Second Rosenthal Marijuana Trial
April 12, 2007
Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan told a federal judge today that following "a thorough and careful review" he's decided to go forward with a second trial of marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal on illegal marijuana cultivation charges.
However, Bevan said prosecutors have decided not to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer's ruling on March 14 dismissing five tax evasion and money laundering counts against Rosenthal on the grounds of vindictive prosecution.
Breyer set a May 14 trial date for Rosenthal, 62, an author of marijuana books and an advocate of medical marijuana.
Rosenthal was convicted in Breyer's court in 2003 on three counts related to cultivating marijuana in an Oakland warehouse.
He later complained that the trial was unfair because he wasn't allowed to claim to the jury that he was growing medical marijuana for patients and had been deputized to do so by the city of Oakland.
Rosenthal was sentenced to one day already served in jail, but appealed his conviction and last year a federal appeals court overturned his conviction because of juror misconduct.
Prosecutors then refiled the original charges and added the new tax evasion and money laundering counts. The case had been set to go to trial in March before Breyer threw out the tax and money laundering charges.
Prosecutors have said that they will not seek a sentence greater than the one day already served even if Rosenthal is convicted on the remaining charges.
After today's hearing, Shari Greenberger, one of three attorneys who represent Rosenthal, said she thinks a second trial will be "a needless use of resources."
But Rosenthal, dressed in a blue robe with paintings of marijuana leaves, said of a second trial, "I'm all for it."
Referring to the expense of filing and responding to extensive pretrial and appellate issues, he said, "I'm paying my lawyers either way, so I might as well get my money's worth."
Rosenthal said his trial is "a tipping point case about government policy" and thinks it's a political case.