"Jesse Baldridge" --Lynch Trial Update
The proceedings on Monday consisted of mostly the same from Friday. The government called several more witnesses from the Sheriff's Department and DEA to identify pieces of evidence in drug deals with undercover officers, surveillance conducted for a year before the raids, and the raids themselves on Lynch's residence and business.
Before the jury entered in the morning, the council was discussing how they were going to fairly address any "nuts and bolts" since the government had already brought up a discussion of the medicinal use of marijuana. Judge Wu had warned all parties to avoid the nuts and bolts, but the government had already gotten their foot in the door. The defense needed to counter the charges of conspiracy, so they wanted to clarify that the receipts from the dispensary contained the instructions, "Do not distribute."
Over the weekend, two jurors had seen the headline of the L.A. Times article about the case, and so the council took some time to make sure that their impartiality had not been compromised.
The U.S. called on Scott Sarmento, a computer forensics examiner for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department. The prosecution had Sarmento describe what he did to copy the data from the hard drives. In the cross examination, the defense pointed out that Sarmento could not follow the chain of custody for the hard drives, even though tampering with them would be difficult.
Detective John Blank was next. He went undercover with the alias of "Jesse Baldridge," and had made several purchases of marijuana in the store. The first time he entered the store, a security guard made him sign in with his name and the time. In the cross examination, the defense inquired as to the six-page form Blank had to sign, but he admitted that he didn't read it. Once, when Blank attempted to enter the store with a 17-year-old, he was turned away. Under the alias of Baldridge, Blank had used a real prescription from a real doctor to make the purchases. This behavior puzzled the defense. Why didn't Blank just use a fake prescription? What special circumstance required lying to a doctor?
Detective Keith Scott, of the Sheriff's Department, was called to the stand. He had helped set up a buy, and conducted some surveillance.
Gerald Giesy, of the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department, conducted some surveillance as well.
Jeffrey Scott Larock, from the DEA, searched Lynch's residence and verified what some documents were that were found there. In this cross examination, the defense unsuccessfully tried to elaborate on the raid, attempting to bring up the disturbing conduct of the DEA agents in the raid, but the prosecution continually objected to the whole line of questioning because of relevance to the evidence. The defense tried to bring up that the DEA agents, during the raid, had pointed a loaded gun directly at Lynch, forced him to the ground while he was naked, and allegedly played a piano in his home. The defense also brought up that Larock could not verify what a bag full of cash amounted to, because he had not counted up the bills himself.
Rachel Burkdol, a DEA special agent, described the raid on the business, and some documents there.
The government's strategy has been, so far, to bring in lots of agents involved in surveillance, undercover work, and the raid, and simply have them identify evidence collected in these ways. The defense in their cross examinations have examined closely flaws or inconsistencies in how these pieces of evidence were obtained.
On Tuesday, the defense will likely call their witnesses to the stand, and elaborate on their main argument, entrapment by estoppel.
Monday's update here.
Charlie Lynch's trial blog here.
reason.tv documentary short on Charlie Lynch here.
Supporters are encouraged to attend the trial of Charlie Lynch:
U.S. District Court
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012