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Reminder: Juries Can Nullify Marijuana Charges If They Find Them Unjust

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jury nullification marijuana chargesAlthough its usage is increasing in the American legal system, far too few people know about, and understand one of the biggest weapons we have in our civil-rights arsenal; jury nullification. Jury nullification is a practice that dates back to before our nation was formed, and is the act of a jury acquitting someone of a charge, even if the evidence is clear, by finding them “not guilty”. By doing so, people can make sure that an individual doesn’t fall victim to unjust, archaic laws. As a juror, taking this path is simple: Vote “not guilty” to someone who is being charged with a bad law. A bad law being something like, say, cannabis prohibition. Or most non-violent convictions made under the drug war.

No matter how small the charge, such as possession of a roach – or how large, such as an 1,000 plant grow operation, a jury is completely within their legal right to find that person “not guilty”, regardless of what either attorney or the judge has to say. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

If you’re called in for jury duty, you should accept it if you wish to have the opportunity to nullify someone of an unjust conviction. If you happen to be placed on a jury for a trial where someone’s being convicted of a non-violent, victimless crime, such as cannabis possession, cultivation or even distribution if it’s clear the person had no ill intentions, than you should lobby, hard, the rest of the jury in getting them to nullify the charge. The important thing in this instance is education, as many in our society know absolutely nothing about jury nullification, or that it even exists.

This isn’t a surprise, as its usage is widely hated, and shadowed by judges. Attorneys areethically prohibited from directly advocating for jury nullification: When they do, a judge will almost always and instantly call a mistrial. This, along with a general public that doesn’t tend to care about the specifics of our legal system, has led to jury nullification being widely underused, despite it being a huge weapon against draconian laws.

Even though it’s underused, it’s not entirely uncommon, and more Americans than ever are becoming aware of it. Laws are even beginning to change, with states like New Hampshire passing legislative just last year to explicitly allow defense attorneys to inform juries of their right to jury nullification, contrary to standard practice everywhere else in the nation. Just a few months after this law took effect, a man was nullified of a cannabis cultivation charge, which would of been a felony. These type of laws will need to be passed everywhere to assure protections to this much-needed safeguard.

For now, we must continue to raise awareness to our ability to use jury nullification to correct what is often a broken criminal justice system.

Source: The Joint Blog

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7 Comments

  1. Berdache Bear on

    Although your charge of “a general public that doesn’t tend to care
    about the specifics of our legal system” is a possible explanation for
    an apparent lack of interest, it seems to me to be “blaming the victim”
    — even having worked for attorneys for a number of years, I never heard
    about jury nullification; the fact the attorneys have been successful
    in making their “language” all but incomprehensible to the novice, could
    certainly be as equal a reason for the general public to give in to all
    the confusions engendered by the legal process.

  2. the prosecutor selects the jury and does not want pot sympathizers on the Jury. He will ask all potential jurors; What is your opinion on marijuana? if you answer wrong you are off the jury. If you say I love it or I hate it you are off the jury. You have to say; I don’t have much opinion either way. to get on the jury. That is the part they don’t teach in school.

  3. Fully Informed Jury Associatio on

    Lobbying the rest of the jury during deliberations to nullify may backfire. It has been ruled permissible for a judge to remove a juror from deliberations if the judge becomes aware (such as by being informed of this by another juror) that the person is entertaining the notion of nullifying. This could leave a defendant completely at the mercy of jurors who are not friendly to the concept of nullification. On the other hand, it is NOT permissible for a judge to remove a juror who has expressed doubts about a defendant’s guilt. Unless a fully informed juror feels pretty confident that the rest of the jurors would be friendly to nullification, the safest route is simply to hang the jury. A hung jury is MUCH better for a defendant than a conviction.

  4. I HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR A LONG TIME NOW.iF YOU FIND YOURSELF ON A JURY AND IF ANY MARIJUANA CHARGE IS INVOLVED………VOTE ACQUITTAL!!!

  5. If you intend to do this if selected for a jury be aware that if in the selection process you let your intentions be known you will automatically be booted , and even if you get on a jury and try to convince your fellow members of the need to “nullify” you can still be removed and replaced if you start talking too soon !!

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