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Judge Overturns Pot Verdict

A U.S. district court judge in Sacramento is ordering a new trial for two undocumented Mexican immigrants convicted of growing marijuana in northern California. Federal Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. says a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

The judge has overturned a jury verdict in the case. That could have sent 22-year-old Miguel Navarro Viayra, and 22-year-old Manuel Alvarez Guerra to prison for ten years. The two say they were recruited under false pretenses and told they´d be shot if they tried to escape their remote camp in the Mendocino National Forest.

The judge´s ruling bolsters frequent defense arguments that immigrants, believing they are recruited for honest work, become hostage laborers for marijuana growers.