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ARCHIVE Published on: 2008-01-01
Medical marijuana provider and prolific author Ed Rosenthal had his Harm Reduction Center raided by federal agents in February 2002. Despite being "immunized" in 1998 by the city of Oakland from violating the Controlled Substances Act under federal law, Rosenthal was denied a medical defense during his prosecution and was found guilty. After the February 2003 trial, several jurors discovered that evidence was withheld, and subsequently denounced their verdict. In the midst of a highly charged political climate, in June 2003, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer sentenced Rosenthal to a single day in prison. Both sides quickly filed to appeal, with the government challenging the one-day sentence and Rosenthal claiming an unfair trial and unlawful grand jury indictment.
Rosenthal's opening brief on appeal raised eight grounds for reversal, including: (1) a Commerce Clause challenge, (2) statutory immunity due to his deputization as an Oakland official, (3) violation of his due process rights because of the trial court's exclusion of his entrapment-by-estoppel defense, (4) misconduct before the grand jury by the federal prosecutor, (5) juror misconduct in eliciting outside legal advice, and (6) instructional error. On April 26, 2006, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued aruling that overturned Rosenthal's conviction, based on jury misconduct. The Court’s ruling, which was amended on July 19, 2006, failed to properly address the issues of immunity and entrapment by estoppel.
Despite no compelling reason to re-try Rosenthal, the government convened a federal grand jury in 2006 to seek an indictment. Although multiple witnesses refused to cooperate with the grand jury, in October 2006 the government filed its superceding indictment that included additional tax evasion and money laundering charges. Based on the vindictive nature of the prosecution, ASA filed a motion to dismiss in February 2007 on behalf of Rosenthal. In an unusual ruling on March 14, 2007, Judge Breyer found that there was at least the appearance of vindictiveness on the part of the federal government, and dismissed the tax and money laundering charges against Rosenthal.
Nevertheless, the government retried Rosenthal on the remaining marijuana charges.He was once again, convicted and he, again, was sentenced to a sentence of one-day time-served.
- Motion to dismiss on Commerce Clause grounds (filed 1/6/2002)
- Motion to dismiss on due process grounds(filed 1/6/2002)
- Motion to dismiss based on immunity(filed 1/6/2002)
- Rosenthal's opening brief (filed 11/23/03)
- Rosenthal's reply brief raising the same legal issues (filed 7/2/04)
- Ninth Circuit ruling reversing Rosenthal's conviction (filed 4/26/06; amended 7/19/06)
- Motion to dismiss based on vindictive prosecution (filed 2/20/07)
- Reply in support of motion to dismiss (filed 3/1/07)
- District Court ruling dismissing charges based on vindictive prosecution (filed 3/14/07)