Faced with an extremely hostile trial court judge, medical marijuana dispensary operators Joe Grumbine and Joe Byron were convicted of marijuana sales after Long Beach Superior Court Judge Charles D. Sheldon initially deprived them of a medical marijuana collective defense and later gave them only one day to prepare such defense. Judge Sheldon later recused himself from the case after he admitted to sending a congratulatory letter to the prosecutor. Further extreme bias by Judge Sheldon can be found in the trial transcript, which reveals that he repeatedly sustained prosecution objections to the introduction of defense evidence, but did not sustain a defense objection until page 1004 of the transcript of the proceedings.
Many, including me, expected the convictions to be reversed on appeal, due to Judge Sheldon’s actions. Instead, the two Joes got a far earlier reversal of their convictions, as Long Beach Superior Court Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani cited a number of improprieties by Judge Sheldon — including complimenting the prosecutor, while being extremely rude to the defense team, before the jury — in granting the two Joes’ motion for a new trial. Judge Comparet-Cassani dubbed this a “terrible, terrible, terrible trial.” Hopefully, there will be no need for a second one.