Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Isleton Officials Must Talk Pot Before Sacramento Grand Jury, Judge Says

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011 - 8:41 am

A judge Monday rejected an effort by attorneys for the city of Isleton to stop prosecutors from questioning officials in the tiny Delta town about their arrangement with a private pot-cultivation outfit.

The District Attorney's Office this month subpoenaed current and former Isleton City Council members and other officials to answer questions in front of the Sacramento County grand jury about the city's medicinal marijuana deal with Delta Allied Growers.

Isleton officials have said the agreement could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue for the cash-strapped city.

Attorney Clyde Blackmon filed a motion Friday to quash the subpoenas, saying they violated provisions in the Constitution on separation of powers. He said that the investigation would have a "chilling effect" on the ability of the city to conduct its legislative business.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Raymond M. Cadei denied the motion after a brief hearing.

"It's not unique in this country to compel elected officials to appear in front of a grand jury," Cadei said.

Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher argued against the motion. He said the DA's office is still acting only as an adviser to the grand jury.

"If at some point in the future we're back here with an indictment," Locher said, the issue of prosecuting city officials would then be the topic of "an interesting discussion."

The grand jury's Isleton session is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

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