Sentencing for a Syracuse man convicted of marijuana possession has been delayed and transferred to another 2nd District Court after a defense attorney charged the trial judge with being prejudiced against his client.
Lane C. Stromberg, 36, was scheduled for sentencing last week by Judge Rodney S. Page on his Sept. 22 conviction of possession of marijuana.The judge, as a courtesy, contacted defense attorney David Knowlton before Stromberg's hearing to inform him of his inclination to send Stromberg to prison instead of jail, as recommended in the Adult Probation and Parole presentence report.
The report recommended a 45-day jail sentence and probation because Stromberg is a first offender. But the judge indicated he was inclined to send Stromberg to prison instead.
Knowlton asked for a delay and has filed a motion charging Page with bias and asking that the sentencing be transferred. Page ordered the case sent to fellow 2nd District Judge Douglas L Cornaby for sentencing on Tuesday.
Knowlton also filed a motion asking that the conviction be set aside on the grounds the enhancement portion of the state's Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional.
Marijuana possession is normally a Class A misdemeanor but the law provides that if the possession is within 1,000 feet of an elementary or junior high school, the charge is enhanced to a third-degree felony.
Page ruled Wednesday the Legislature intended to keep drugs away from school children and the enhancement clause is not arbitrary or capricious, denying Knowlton's appeal.
Stromberg was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine after a search in May of his home at 1487 S. 1250 West, adjacent to Syracuse Elementary School, turned up about a pound of marijuana in the bedroom and kitchen and three pounds of pure, uncut cocaine in the garage.
The cocaine charge, because of the enhancement clause, was tried as a first-degree felony, with Stromberg facing a sentence of five years to life in prison.
The jury found Stromberg guilty of marijuana possession after he testified that the amount found in his bedroom was his. But the jury found him innocent of the cocaine-possession charge.
Stromberg and Knowlton are also challenging the state's newly enacted drug tax-stamp law, which requires dealers to attach revenue stamps purchased from the state to quantities of cocaine and marijuana.
Knowlton is arguing that requiring someone to purchase the stamps would identify them to authorities as a potential drug dealer and violates the constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination.