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DRUG COURT GRADUATES GET THEIR DUE FROM GEORGE San Francisco’s drug court has been operating for seven years, but at its latest graduation two things happened that had not occurred before: The court had its biggest graduation class ever, and California Chief Justice Ronald George gave the keynote speech. “Drug courts are truly different,” George told the 64 graduates. “They require courts and judges to step outside the confines of their traditional roles and work in close partnership with other participants in the justice system and with defendants themselves. In fact, everyone involved — judges, lawyers, defendants and support services — must rethink their roles and act differently.” In introducing George at the graduation ceremonies at the Hall of Justice, Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn, who presides over drug court, noted that the nation’s first drug court opened in Miami in 1989. San Francisco’s debuted in 1995, he said, and thousands now operate worldwide. George pointed out that California now has 158 drug courts in 50 of its 58 counties, and that the San Francisco court will have graduated about 400 people this year. “The drug court movement is one that requires vision from all participants,” George said. “It asks of you something that the court system does not frequently call upon us to do: to believe in the possibility of real change and in the positive power of education, support and personal commitment — and to recognize that a transformation in one part of an individual’s life can have a profound effect on every part.” The graduation setting was far less opulent than the courtrooms over which George normally presides. The room was drab, with plain wood walls dotted with paper signs, including one admonishing “no talking, reading, beverages, food or gum in the courtroom.” Red Christmas bows and potted poinsettias, however, added a cheerier touch. “You who graduate today,” George said, “will have many day-to-day challenges to face — but you now have new tools and resources to help you do so successfully.” Other dignitaries at the ceremony included Superior Court Presiding Judge Ronald Quidachay, District Attorney Terence Hallinan, Public Defender Kimiko Burton and San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano. — Mike McKee SMOKE SIGNALS For the second time in the few weeks since it was released, Judge Alex Kozinski’s eloquent and sometimes pugilistic concurrence (a description fitting just about anything Kozinski writes) in a recent medical marijuana ruling had a central role in a Bay Area federal court hearing. This time, it was in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins, who did not seem cowed by the prospect of ruling whether the federal government can pursue individual patients for possessing marijuana. In fact, he seemed quite interested. Plaintiff Angel Raich is seeking an injunction against government intervention. “Doesn’t Lopez and Morrison change things?” Jenkins asked at one point, wondering if he could use the two recent Supreme Court cases to get around otherwise controlling Ninth Circuit precedent. Those cases stand for the principle that Congress’ power to enact laws based on a tenuous connection to interstate commerce is limited. If Jenkins sees those cases as opening new doors, he would get to the critical question of whether simple possession of marijuana has a “substantial effect” on interstate commerce. Kozinski’s concurrence strongly suggested that the federal government was overstepping its bounds by going after medical marijuana patients in California. That case, Conant v. McCaffery, 02 C.D.O.S. 10709, held that the government could not keep doctors from advising their patients on the use of marijuana. However, the first judge that issue was before — San Jose U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel — rejected the argument that Lopez and Morrison set a high bar for the federal government in going after medical marijuana distributors, even though the dispensary in that case collected no money from its patients. Fogel ruled earlier this month against a Santa Cruz County medical dispensary whose plants were confiscated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Jenkins’ case, like Fogel’s, features a heavyweight in the field of constitutional law. Gerald Uelmen of the Santa Clara University School of Law appeared in the South Bay, while Randy Barnett, a lecturer, author and commentator who teaches at the Boston University School of Law engaged in a lively colloquy with Jenkins. “The whole idea of dual sovereignty is that we allow the states to have their own policy,” Barnett said. “Our clients are operating strictly within the powers of the state of California.” Mark Quinlivan, who has been spending quite a lot of time in the Bay Area as the government’s line of defense against a flurry of federal court marijuana litigation, argued for the Department of Justice. “People have a right to treatment but they do not have a right to any particular treatment, and certainly not to an unproven medical treatment such as marijuana,” Quinlivan said. A ruling is expected soon. — Jason Hoppin MCCARTHY’S BALK San Francisco Superior Court Judge Kevin McCarthy wrote a scholarly opinion in the Barry Bonds home run case, but whiffed on his knowledge of baseball’s great sluggers. In the 12-page order handed out in the courtroom, McCarthy noted Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927. “The record stood for 71 years until Mark McGwire broke it in 1998 by hitting seventy,” the judge wrote. Oops. What about Roger Maris, who broke Ruth’s record by belting 61 in 1961? A couple of hours later, the online version of McCarthy’s order was revised, and Maris’ record-breaking endeavor was woven into the text. Asked what happened, the judge said he could not discuss the case, since it is still pending before him. He did not, however, sound pleased about his error. Nor would he say who brought the omission to his attention, although it didn’t take long for the oversight to hit the Internet. “It’s hard to take this opinion seriously, when the very first sentence contains a huge error,” said someone called Billyjo on infirmation.com, also known as the Greedy Associates message board. Billyjo’s message was posted at 11:24 a.m., about a half-hour after McCarthy issued his ruling. At 11:52 a.m., someone called Flinty McFlint noted there was a corrected version online. “Wonder if the sportswriters caught it before it was corrected,” mused McFlint. One lawyer familiar with the case suggested, perhaps facetiously, that the omission of Maris was brought to the judge’s attention by “baseball scholars.” — Dennis J. Opatrny

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