In a closely watched trial involving conflicting marijuana laws, a jury on Tuesday convicted the owner of a Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary on five counts of violating federal drug laws.
Charles Lynch, 46, was found guilty of distributing more than 100 kilos of marijuana, some of it to people considered minors under federal law.
Lynch, flanked by his defense attorneys, hung his head and grimaced as the verdicts were read in a Los Angeles courtroom. He could be sentenced to a minimum of five years in federal prison or as many as 85.
Cultivating, using and selling doctor-prescribed medical marijuana are allowed in some instances under California law. But they are outlawed entirely under federal law, which supersedes those of the states.
JUNE 5–A technology billionaire was a drug fiend who trafficked in cocaine, Ecstasy, and methamphetamine, spiked the drinks of business associates and employees, hired prostitutes for himself and others, and maintained several narcotics dens, including one in an underground lair at his Los Angeles mansion, prosecutors charge. In a remarkable federal indictment unsealed today in Los Angeles, Broadcom co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III is portrayed as an out-of-control wild man who scored drug caches for Super Bowl parties and rock festivals and had his dealer invoice him for these illicit purchases. A copy of the felony drug conspiracy indictment against Nicholas, who is reportedly worth about $2 billion, can be found below. The 48-year-old Nicholas, who was charged with securities fraud in a separate U.S. District Court case, allegedly “used threats of physical violence and death and payments of money to attempt to conceal his unlawful conduct,” according to the indictment.
The lawyer who was hit with sanctions for failing to rein in a foul-mouthed client is now asking a federal judge for permission to drop the client and begging for the sanctions imposed on him to be lifted.
The Feb. 29 decision by U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno in GMAC Bank v. HTFC Corp. imposed sanctions of more than $29,000 on attorney Joseph R. Ziccardi of Chicago and his client, Aaron Wider, whose alleged misconduct included dropping 73 “F-bombs” during his deposition. The ruling created a sensation in the blogosphere as a slew of commentators linked to the decision as the latest example of a litigant gone wild.
Robreno found that Wider, the chief executive officer of HTFC, engaged in “hostile, uncivil, and vulgar conduct, which persisted throughout the nearly 12 hours of deposition testimony.”
Wider used the word “fuck” or variations of it 73 times during the deposition, Robreno noted, and the video shows that his lawyer at one point “snickered” at his client’s conduct.
[F]irst argues that his “right to due process and right to confront witnesses” was violated because the state did not produce the [sex toys] that were the subject of the July 23 and August 2 orders….
Tyrrell contends that the trial court erred in failing to let him show the victim a dildo lineup.
As David Lat at AboveTheLaw.com put it:
If that doesn’t violate the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which guarantees a criminal defendant the right “to be confronted with the [dildos] against him,” we don’t know what does.
Among the most surprising things: Justice Scalia was asked who he thought was the greatest Supreme Court justice in terms of opinion writing. He identified Justice Robert H. Jackson as his favorite, and named Justice Jackson’s eloquent dissenting opinion in Korematsu v. United States, 321 U.S. 760 as a particular favorite. This took me by surprise because . . . . First, Justice Jackson was very “liberal,” at least in terms of championing individual rights. Second, the dissent Justice Scalia mentions as his favorite can almost be read as a screed against the current Bush Administration’s attempts to circumvent the Constitution in support of the “war on terror.” Not quite what I would have expected from Justice Scalia . . . .
A Florida lawyer has been charged with assault for over-vigorously shaking the hand of a fellow attorney. Kathy Brewer Rentas, 49, shook the hand of Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Keene so hard her arm was nearly ripped out of its socket, a court official said.
Moments before, Ms Keene successfully prosecuted Ms Brewer Rentas’ husband.
Anthony Rentas was accused of violating the terms of a probation order for supplying cocaine, and sentenced to 90 days of house arrest.
After the hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mrs Brewer Rentas insisted on shaking the prosecuting lawyer’s hand. In shaking it, she nearly floored Ms Keene with the vigour of her hand-action.
“With Keene in hand, Brewer made an upward, then a quick downward motion and pulled Keene toward the ground moving her forward, almost causing Keene to fall to the ground,” said a court security officer.
Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office, said assaulting a federal officer was a serious matter and that Mrs Brewer Rentas would be prosecuted “vigorously”.
“As a member of the bar, she should know better,” she said.
Mrs Brewer Rentas was freed on Friday on $100,000 (£50,000) bail, after spending a night in solitary confinement, and ordered to undergo psychological examination. She was also ordered to stay away from Mrs Keene, and faces up to a year in prison if convicted of assault.
Mrs Brewer Rentas says she did not intend to cause any harm.
A Las Vegas personal injury lawyer known for his colorful commercials failed to show up last week to defend a client accused of murder, telling a prosecutor he was on sabbatical out of state.
Glen Lerner left a voice mail with a county prosecutor saying he wouldn’t return to defend the client, and “if the judge wants to sanction me, she can sanction me,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Law professor Martin Geer of the University of Nevada told the newspaper that the judge overseeing the case could hold Lerner in civil or criminal contempt of court for missing the trial. “It’s an outrageous thing to do,” he said. “A lot of judges would have issued a warrant for his arrest immediately,” he said. “I’ve seen it happen when someone is late.”
Lerner, who calls himself the Heavy Hitter, told the Review-Journal in an earlier article that he is in Pennsylvania writing a book and re-examining his life. “I’ve been living the life of a rock star for so long,” he said.
He said he had tried to reach a deal with the prosecutor in the murder case, and when it didn’t work out, he asked for more time to prepare for trial. “I’d rather be sanctioned than railroad my guy into accepting 25 years in prison,” he said.
Loyal Law Blog readers will remember the controversy surrounding Burt Neuborne, the NYU law professor who was awarded $3.1 million by a federal judge for his work administering a $1.25 billion settlement between Swiss banks and Holocaust survivors. A number of Holocaust survivors and lawyers thought he asked for too much money for what should’ve been pro bono work; Neuborne, and Judge Frederic Block, felt the award was justified. (Neuborne had also received a $4.4 million fee in an earlier Holocaust lawsuit.)
Neuborne’s back in court asking for $299,419 in interest to cover the two years during which his fee was delayed by objections from the survivors. If approved, the interest would be paid out of the survivors’ settlement fund. Here’s the NY Sun story, and Law Blog background on the fee flap.
Said a leading protestor of Neuborne’s initial fee request, David Mermelstein from a suburb of Miami, Fla., said: “Shocking is not the word for it. Disgusting is not the word for it. Chutzpah is too nice a word to say about the thing. After getting $3 million, to have the guts to ask for interest?” Another survivor, Leo Rechter of Queens, told the Sun: “He’s setting a precedent on greed.”
A Chicago lawyer who is being criticized, along with his law firm, in an anonymous Internet blog supposedly authored by a fellow attorney has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide him with the identity of “Troll Tracker.”
The anonymous blogger, who claims to be “just a lawyer; interested in patent cases but not interested in publicity,” has criticized Raymond Niro and his 30-lawyer IP boutique, Niro Scavone Haller & Niro, for representing clients who own patents but don’t necessarily make products. Instead, the firm earns licensing fees from users of the patented technology—and potentially sues users if they don’t pay up, explains the Chicago Tribune.
Although Troll Tracker claims a First Amendment right to criticize the firm anonymously on the blog, Niro says the blogger should take responsibility for his or her views. Plus, he points out, knowing the identity and affiliations of the blogger likely would affect the way that readers perceive the Troll Tracker’s critique.