Bob Welbourn was the Founding President of our Rotary Club. He formerly participated in scuba diving with other Rotarians, and still wears his rusty Rotary badge from the days when he took it on seawater dives (“Surface Above Self!”).

Bob is a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. He described 4 of his most unusual legal defense cases.

The home of a marijuana legalization advocate was raided ~10 years ago by the LAPD, who pulled up 200 pounds of marijuana plants there. The defendant had been medically discharged from the US Air Force for sickle cell anemia, which causes recurring attacks of severe pain in the bones and internal organs. Her only pain relief was morphine and marijuana, and the marijuana worked better. She was managed by a UCLA physician who testified that he had prescribed marijuana for her pain relief. There were community demonstrations on her behalf, and a sensational trial resulted in her acquittal.

A double homicide was committed by a hotheaded defendant, one of 2 men in his car, who shot and killed 2 people in an adjacent vehicle in apparent road rage, and escaped. The trail went cold until 1 year later when one of the 2 was arrested on a parole violation; a gun was recovered from him, and ballistics studies linked it to the earlier murder. He was convicted and imprisoned.

A 16-year-old boy in Compton, trying to join a gang, engaged in initiation activity when a tagger was seen painting over the gang’s graffiti, a disrespectful act. One of the gang members went up and shot the tagger dead. A girl who witnessed the shooting later saw this client on Facebook and identified him to the police. When he was arrested, he admitted the crime to the police. The court sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison.

An eccentric Manhattan Beach resident (who claimed to have an MD & PhD from Canada) was repairing his roof. Another person came and offered to help in exchange for a room there, which he accepted. However, soon several of this person’s “friends” were also moving in. A woman in that group accused this resident of abusing her (battery). Police officers came to the house, arrested the man and beat him badly (their body cameras had been turned backward so they recorded only blank video). A restraining order was taken out forbidding him from coming within 100 yards from his own home. (The outcome is still pending.)