Paul Butler has an important piece in the New York Times reminding all of us that we don’t have to enforce unjust laws when we serve on a jury.
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 adult. 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. [NYT]
Jury nullification is a critical safeguard against abuses of prosecutorial power in our criminal justice system, and Paul Butler would know. He used to be a prosecutor himself.
Taking your conscience with you into the jury booth is an act of patriotism, and it’s something every citizen should know they have to right to do. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Americans don’t want a war on marijuana anymore, and refusing to convict our friends and neighbors is one very strong way to make that sure that message is heard.