Cross-posted to reason.tv
Friday, August 1 started with Wu prohibiting a patient to testify as a character witness. The defense wanted her because she would testify that she once asked Lynch to break the law, and he refused. As they waited on a juror to arrive, Wu went over some jury instructions that would reference the considerations of state laws.
When the jury was brought in, Kowal continued his cross-examination. It was clear that he had been coached since the day before, because he had a visibly less hostile demeanor, although anything short of furious screaming was less hostile than his behavior from Thursday. They examined documents regarding Lynch’s business, including his business license applications. Kowal noted that the police chief of the city had not signed it, so Lynch explained that the police chief made a point not sign off on the license, but also the chief clarified that did not disapprove of the license either.
Kowal inquired as to whether or not Lynch opened his dispensary back up after the raid by the DEA. Kowal implied that he should have taken the raid as a sign to stop his business, but Lynch wasn’t even arrested on the day of the raid. He figured that the raid might have just been a scare tactic from the paramilitary DEA. On the day of the raid, he was never instructed by any law enforcement officer, DEA or Sheriff’s Deputy, to stop operating his dispensary, and though the business was decimated, Lynch made the tough decision to open back up for business, since sick people were relying on him for their medicine. He took a cue from the many other dispensaries that had been raided and reopened shortly after.
Kowal tried to have Lynch describe a record of vendors that he had never seen. The document was entitled “Clone Vendors,” a term Lynch never used. Kowal, sensing that this was a dead end, then probed into the conspiracy charge, asking about Abraham Baxter, an employee who had apparently stolen marijuana from the store and sold it to undercover sheriff’s deputies. Baxter wouldn’t testify in court as to how Lynch was unaware of his street dealing. On Thursday, the court had phoned Baxter’s attorney in San Francisco, who said that Baxter would just plead the fifth for every question since he was dealing with that criminal charge.
The cross-examination revealed that Lynch did indeed testify that he sold marijuana to customers under the age of 21. This is the charge Wu specified could not be covered by entrapment by estoppel.
Kowal examined some documents from Lynch’s store and continually tried to bring up whether or not Lynch considered the differences in legality between state and federal laws. Lynch’s testimony was consistent. He did not cave to Kowal’s repeated attempts to bully him into acknowledging that he understood the federal law. Lynch told Mr. Kowal that if he had known that operating a dispensary would land him in that courtroom, he never would have done it. Such a heartfelt statement surely won sympathy from the jury.
The defense wanted to call a federal agent as a witness to testify as to a statement from Baxter that “Charlie didn’t know about the deal,” a clear reference to Baxter’s current legal trouble. The statement would provide evidence to separate Lynch from the conspiracy charge. Wu would not initially allow it though. Wu thought it would be inappropriate to allow this testimony without any notification to Baxter’s attorney.
Scheduling did allow for the defense to call Janice Peters to the stand. Peters is the mayor of Morro Bay, and she wholeheartedly endorsed Lynch’s dispensary. Wu would not allow her to discuss any references to local laws, but the defense was able to lay sufficient foundation for her as a character witness. From all her interactions with Charlie at city council meetings, she testified that she had a good feeling about his reputation as a law-abiding citizen. The defense called another character witness, Robert Schultz, the city attorney for Morro Bay. He also testified that he never heard anything other than that Lynch was a law-abiding citizen.
The prosecution called Special Agent Deanne Reuter to the stand. It was Reuter’s phone line from Lynch’s important fourth call to the DEA. She said that the person Lynch talked to was a receptionist, and explained that office procedure was never to answer the phone, “Marijuana Task Force.” She did not recall any conversation with Lynch, and said that if she had heard the question, she would have answered that state laws are irrelevant, and that there would be no way to avoid federal prosecution. Reuter had directly contradicted the details of Lynch’s phone call. Her testimony appeared gravely damning for the case for entrapment by estoppel, until the defense poked a gaping hole in her testimony in the cross-examination. She was not in the office on the day of the phone call. She also amused the courtroom, when she made a fool of herself by blurting out that California Senate Bill 420 had been repealed. This is factually false. Wu allowed the defense to inquire about her own perceived legal expertise, despite the prosecution’s knee-jerk objections. If there were any doubt before, Reuter solidified her incompetence when she confidently repeated that she knew CA Senate Bill 420 had been repealed, because she said, one of her superiors had sent out an e-mail with this information to her entire office. Her testimony appeared nonsensical for another reason: Lynch’s phone bill contained a seven-minute call.
After the jury was dismissed for the weekend, the prosecution and the defense continued to discuss whether Lynch’s lawyer from Atascadero would be allowed to testify about a conversation that he had with Lynch, in which Lynch described his phone call to the DEA. The prosecution and the defense deliberated on whether Lynch’s motive for the phone call would have arisen either when he finalized his decision to start up the dispensary, or when federal charges were brought against him. Wu will decide over the weekend about whether or not he will be able to testify, according to interpretations of other cases discussed by the prosecution and the defense.
The jury will reconvene on Monday at 11:00 a.m. The evidentiary portion of the trial will end on Monday, because Wu has another trial on Tuesday. The closing statements will occur at 4:30 at the latest, including 15 minutes for the prosecution and the defense, but the earlier they finish with evidence, the longer they will have for closing statements. After that, it’s up to the jury. The decision must be unanimous to find Lynch guilty or innocent, and the courts rarely allow hung juries, since that would mean conducting the trial all over again. The court will let the jury deliberate until they reach a consensus.
Lynch's supporters are encouraged to attend the trial.
U.S. District Court
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Check out previous coverage of the trial for Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well as a video update. If you haven't seen it already, watch Raiding California for context leading up to this trial.
Lynch's supporters can join the Free Charlie Lynch! Facebook group.