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Half of the original 'doobie dozen' still facing local charges 

Six defendants were back in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court on Oct. 7, once again facing charges stemming from the late-2010 medical-marijuana arrests of the Doobie Dozen.

The morning began with a shuffling of defendants and attorneys, with two attorneys saying they came to court that day as a courtesy appearance, six defendants scattered throughout the circular room, and everyone waiting for the prosecutor to arrive.

“We’re here to determine what exactly the DA’s office wants to do with the case,” said Louis Koory, a defense attorney who said he was there as a “special appearance” for one of the defendants.

- BACK ON THE CASE:  With a new set of jury instructions handed down from a state appellate court, Deputy District Attorney Craig van Rooyen (pictured - here in 2012) is once again prosecuting six defendants of the original “doobie dozen” who face charges that range from possession of marijuana for sale to child endangerment. -  - FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • BACK ON THE CASE: With a new set of jury instructions handed down from a state appellate court, Deputy District Attorney Craig van Rooyen (pictured here in 2012) is once again prosecuting six defendants of the original “doobie dozen” who face charges that range from possession of marijuana for sale to child endangerment.

Local prosecutors dropped the cases in January 2012 after Judge Barry LaBarbera issued unfavorable jury instructions based on an interpretation of California medical marijuana laws. The District Attorney’s Office brought the cases before a state appellate court, which resulted in a new set of jury instructions and the cases bouncing back to the local level.

The lead prosecutor in the cases, Deputy District Attorney Craig van Rooyen, explained to SLO County Superior Court Judge Rita Federman, “The people prevailed, and we’re back at the point now where we’re back in superior court.”

With 12 people originally arrested in late 2010 after a bust by the now-defunct Narcotics Task Force, only six defendants still face prosecution. The District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges on three of those arrested, two other defendants had their charges dismissed after prosecutors made a filing error, and another defendant’s case was dismissed in August 2012.

One of the remaining defendants, Chris Austin, told New Times he felt the appellate court ruled largely in favor of himself and the other defendants, aside from the new jury instructions.

“I was very confident that they would actually step away from it,” he said of SLO County prosecutors, adding now that he’s back in court again, “I don’t think their position has changed.”

Both Chris and Amy Austin face charges, as do David and Valerie Hosking, Thomas Sandercock, and Steven Gordon.

All six defendants are being represented by new attorneys since they were last in local court. The new attorneys said in court that they needed time to dig up the discovery for the cases.

All six defendants are scheduled to appear for an Oct. 28 trial setting.

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