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Federal Judge Denies Pot Guru Ed Rosenthal a New Trial


Fri May 16, 8:08 PM ET

By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge rejected a bid for a new trial from convicted marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal on Friday, finding no basis for his claims of jury bias.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer upheld Rosenthal's highly publicized conviction in February. He now faces spending the rest of his life in prison when he's sentenced June 4. The maximum sentence is 85 years.

Rosenthal said he would appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web sites) and would ask Breyer to stay his sentence pending a decision.

Rosenthal, 58, was portrayed as a major drug manufacturer at trial. The jury concluded that he was growing more than 100 pot plants, conspired to cultivate marijuana and maintained an Oakland warehouse for a growing operation.

Rosenthal says he was growing medical marijuana under a 1996 law approved by California voters, and was deputized by the city of Oakland to carry out the task. But Breyer prohibited Rosenthal's jury from hearing evidence of that sort, and he explained his reasoning Friday.

"Since the Civil War this country has recognized that whatever the views of local governments, such views do not control the enforcement of federal law," Breyer wrote.

Rosenthal also claimed at least two jurors incorrectly believed they had no choice but to convict him. One juror informed the judge after the trial that she had consulted with an attorney during the trial on whether she could vote for acquittal even though the evidence clearly established Rosenthal violated federal drug manufacturing laws.

Breyer wrote it was "rank speculation" that two jurors voted to convict on the advice of the attorney.