RANCHO CUCAMONGA - The civil trial between Lanny Swerdlow, a medical marijuana advocate, and Paul Chabot, the founder and president of the Coalition for a Drug Free California, has been postponed until next year.
A judge continued the readiness hearing Friday morning to accommodate Chabot's defense lawyer, Andrew Haynal, who is tied up with other criminal matters through the rest of the year and not available to start trial next week.
A new trial readiness hearing was scheduled for Feb. 8, despite an objection by Swerdlow who said the proceedings have gone on too long.
Swerdlow was found not guilty in 2008 after he was accused a year earlier of battery against Chabot at meeting in Rancho Cucamonga. In 2010 Swerdlow filed malicious prosecution charges against Chabot for filing the false assault claim, which is why the two are currently in court.
"I understand Mr. Swerdlow's frustrations," Haynal said outside the courtroom. "This has been going on for two years."
During the hearing Swerdlow, of Palm Springs, informed Judge Ben T. Kayashima that he plans to represent himself because he could not find a lawyer.
"You don't know how to do that," Kayashima said regarding Swerdlow's decision.
"I'll do the best I can," Swerdlow responded.
After Kayashima set the new court dates, he suggested Swerdlow use that time to find an attorney.
"No council wants to represent me," Swerdlow said following the hearing.
Swerdlow said he "absolutely feels comfortable" representing himself at trial, but is worried about "legal intricacies" like jury selection, in which he has no experience.
In October 2007, Swerdlow attended an Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition meeting. He said he wanted to listen to the group and then pass out fliers in support of medical marijuana.
Swerdlow was later arrested for allegedly assaulting Chabot, the guest speaker, who denied him entry into a pubic event.
Swerdlow walked into the event holding a box of pro-marijuana fliers and Chabot reportedly told authorities he feared for the safety of attendees because Swerdlow refused to show him its contents.
Chabot denied Swerdlow entry and Swerdlow ignored him and stepped around him into a meeting room, according to Swerdlow and a witness, Victor Martin.
According to a deputy's report filed by Chabot, Swerdlow pushed Chabot before entering the event.
Chabot called authorities and Swerdlow was arrested. Other marijuana activists who also tried to attend the event were ejected.
Swerdlow said he never touched Chabot.
A trial concerning the charge lasted three days and jurors deliberated for about three hours before acquitting Swerdlow of the battery charge.
Staff reporter Wes Woods II contributed to this report.