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Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:07 PM

To End Ridiculous Pot Arrests, Jurors Should Refuse to Convict Marijuana Arrestees (And Can Do So...

Last edited Thu Dec 22, 2011, 05:32 PM - Edit history (1)

Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at George Washington University, has an idea to help everyday Americans stand-up against the harsh marijuana laws most of them do not support: "If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote 'not guilty' — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adults," he wrote Monday in an op-ed for the New York Times. The tactic is called "jury nullification," and it is perfectly legal. "As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer," Butler said.

Clearly, public opinion is not reflected in the federal government's crackdown on legal medical marijuana programs, nor is it evident in high arrest rates. A recent Gallup poll showed that 50% of Americans' favor marijuana legalization -- a record high --, and a CBS poll found that even more Americans, 77 percent, believe medical marijuana should be legal, though the majority also said that current medical marijuana programs are not being used to alleviate "suffering serious medical conditions." And yet, even as more Americans than ever support some kind of marijuana legalization, arrests for medical marijuana are at an all-time high: "In 2010, police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report," Paul Armentano recently reported on AlterNet.

Butletr suggests that Americans need not lie down as hundreds of thousands of us are arrested for pot offenses, the majority of which are personal possession charges. According to Butler, jury nullification "is premised on the idea that ordinary citizens, not government officials, should have the final say as to whether a person should be punished. As Adams put it, it is each juror’s “duty” to vote based on his or her 'own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.'"

Prosecutors, however, have taken legal action to prevent Americans from being informed of this right. Butler said disclosing the truth about nullification to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence:

MORE...

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/751804/ny_times_op-ed%3A_to_end_ridiculous_pot_arrests%2C_jurors_should_refuse_to_convict_marijuana_arrestees_%28and_can_do_so_legally%29/

Original NY Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/opinion/jurors-can-say-no.html?_r=1

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply To End Ridiculous Pot Arrests, Jurors Should Refuse to Convict Marijuana Arrestees (And Can Do So... (Original post)
Purveyor Dec 2011 OP
Vinnie From Indy Dec 2011 #1
ohheckyeah Dec 2011 #2
RueVoltaire Dec 2011 #3
redqueen Dec 2011 #4
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2011 #10
timtom Dec 2011 #5
Politicalboi Dec 2011 #6
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2011 #7
Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #8
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2011 #9
Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #11
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2011 #15
Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #16
zipplewrath Dec 2011 #12
RainDog Dec 2011 #13
Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #17
Laelth Dec 2011 #14
sylveste Dec 2011 #18
Uncle Joe Dec 2011 #19

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:10 PM

1. He's right!

If these cases begin to get nullified by juries, it will be much harder to continue this insane, fictional "war" against drugs.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:11 PM

2. I said this a long time ago.

If juries refuse to convict then what's the point of arresting and prosecuting?

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:15 PM

3. Here's a great explaination of jury nullification, in PDF, from another DU'er, noamnety:

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:17 PM

4. "Prosecutors, however, have taken legal action

to prevent Americans from being informed of this right."

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Response to redqueen (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:10 PM

10. Indeed they have. Really annoys judges too

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:20 PM

5. Simple. Elegant.

 

I love it.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:23 PM

6. I would do it for any drug abuse case

As long as they weren't selling to children, or endangering lives. I could care less if they smoked crack all day. Although crack is more dangerous compared to MJ. But crack is addictive so there's actually more reason not to convict. But this is a great idea.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:52 PM

7. Jury Nullification is far from new

OJ anyone?

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 01:57 PM

8. It's new if you don't know about it

and I would hardly equate smoking doobies with murder.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #8)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:10 PM

9. Same thing happened in southern states during the Civil Rights movement when

juries refused to convict some of those accused of crimes against minorities.

If we embrace jury nullification for one kind of crime, we are clearly opening the door for it to be used in other kinds of crimes.

Something to think about.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #9)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:17 PM

11. It's all relative, the crime itself must be taken into consideration, members of

the Underground Railroad; spiriting escaped slaves away to freedom, were also breaking the law, would you have opposed jury nullification being used in their case?

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #11)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 03:55 PM

15. I am not necessarily opposed to jury nullification

I was on one that did just that, though no one used that term.

Its just that if we embrace it for some "crimes" others will embrace it for others and there will be a moral equivalency in the eyes of many, with some justification. Not sure I like where that could lead. That said, there are clearly cases that cry out for it.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #15)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 04:43 PM

16. Considering that the "War on Drugs" is an unjust, draconian, immoral, corruptive and racist

construct.

I have no problem with supporting jury nullification in these cases.

The Executive and Legislative branches have greatly overstepped their boundries infringing on the Judiciary and I believe the people need to take that power back.

I agree with you in regards to the need for caution in doing so, but I believe the people in general at a macro level will make the right decisions. The people may be governed to some degree by their passions but our current system of government not all only places those same vices on the politicians but adds the enticement of legalized bribery as well.

The "War on Drugs" has become a full circle of extortion and bribery taking money from the people through draconian prosecution and sentencing, funneling it through the police, for profit prisons, big pharma and various other entities and then lining the pockets of the very same politicians; so enthusiastic about passing these counterproductive, dysfunctional and self-serving laws.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #9)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:17 PM

12. I have thought about it

Jury nullification is a very "democratic" process. It takes more than one jury, but it can also represent a "minority" view. It is part of the same democratic process that created the Jim Crow laws to begin with. Yes, just as the political process can produce Jim Crow laws, the jury nullification can be used to nullify civil rights. It's all part of the process of self government.

One shouldn't just participate in jury nullification. They should also advocate and vote consistently with such an action. But it can be part of the larger self governing process.

I've often thought that there should be some constitutional principal that laws have to be "supported" by the governed through their own behavior. If 30% or more (at any one time) can be shown to not supporting a law by actually following it, the law becomes invalidated. Large numbers of "social engineering" laws would be gone. Of course that probably would include alot of speed limits.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:24 PM

13. a request: would you please cross-post this in the Drug Policy Forum?

or just add it as a reply to the other thread on this topic - that would keep the info together.

thanks!

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Response to RainDog (Reply #13)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 05:18 PM

17. This thread is still missing, just posting to see if it shows up.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:45 PM

14. Juries, by and lrge, are very pro-state.

Most of them are just itching to convict people--of anything, for any reason. They want to see some punishment!

I fear the well-intentioned author is barking up the wrong tree.

-Laelth

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 05:41 PM

18. i wonder

how many marijuana cases actually make it to a jury trial, my guess is very few realitvely speaking. most are probably plead out.

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Response to sylveste (Reply #18)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 05:55 PM

19. That's just another part of legalized extortion racket.

There is no redeeming quality to this so called war.

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