Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why Do Prosecutors Try To "Weed Out" Potential Jurors Aware Of Jury Nullification?

I never heard of someone utilizing a Jury Nullification Defense until I started writing to Ed Forchion aka The New Jersey Weedman a few years ago. I have been following his case and was very proud to see him follow through on his endeavor to actually try and persuade at least one jury member that the law was wrong, not him.  Not only did he follow through, but he got an intent to distribute charge dismissed by unanimous decision.  

Photograph of NJ Weedman courtesy of James Babb.

 He also defended himself! Nowadays, lawyers are looking at cannabis arrests as easy money. Most folks just plea out. Attorneys don't have to do anything but show up in court, have you sign a piece of paper for a plea deal, and pick up their check at the end of the day. So right off, if you're busted this is what the lawyer is pretty much expecting to do.

Most people who have something to gain from cannabis prohibition are the one's that are most likely opposed to legalization.  I suspect most attorneys would not like to see cannabis cases disappearing from the courts.  I put most attorneys in the same category of other people who profit from cannabis being illegal such as Private Prisons, Correctional Officer Unions,  Police Departments depending on financial assistance for Federal Subsidy's for cannabis arrests quotas, to the Pharmaceutical Industry.

They're so many variables out there now that make the case to defend yourself more possible than ever before. Maybe if someone went into a court armed with this knowledge, they might seriously consider opting out of a plea deal and considering Jury Nullification.

- First, changing public opinion on cannabis has increased exponentially over the past few years. To the point now where 18 states plus Washington DC have legalized medicinal use of cannabis. 2 States Washington and Colorado have completely legalized it.  Odds are at least one person on a jury can be cannabis friendly. Now if they are aware of jury nullificatiojn, you could most likely go home a free person.

-  More and more people are less interested in our government spending money to enforce cannabis laws.  It has gotten to the point where it is more expensive to incarcerate someone for a year than a year in college!

After 40 years, $1 trillion, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals

- People are becoming more and more aware how racially based the arrests for cannabis is and was.  In 48 states, the arrest rate between blacks and whites is disproportionately higher for blacks. In Iowa for example, the population of blacks in their state is 3%, yet they make up 79% of the arrests for cannabis.

United States Marijuana Possession Arrest Rates by State and Race (2006)

-This is a big one: Government Credibility enforcing cannabis prohibition. If you were to Google "Is the government lying about marijuana?" The first thing that pops up and many more after are many documented referrals stating that this is the case.

A good example of this was recently when the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomburg said that Medicinal Cannabis was "The greatest hoaxes of all time"

Mayor Bloomberg Medical Cannabis "One of gratest hoxes of all time"

While he was saying this, the New England Journal of Medicine is releasing a survey from doctors saying that 76% would prescribe cannabis to their patients if they were allowed.

New England Journal of Medicine survey 76% of doctors would prescribe cannabis"

Considering New York City is known worldwide for it's racial profiling stop and frisk policy. Spiking cannabis arrests by making people put personal cannabis in public view for a more egregious penalty.  I would believe doctors over politicians and law enforcement any day regarding the medicinal benefits of cannabis... It truly is a healthcare issue, not a criminal issue.

 NYPD Narcotics Detective Admits Cops Regularly Plant Drugs On Perps

- DEA being dishonest and refusing to admit that cannabis is less dangerous than heroin or that it has no medicinal use is another example. Considering the government has a patent on medicinal cannabis, it really shows just how schizophrenic our government is on this policy.

 U.S. Government Licenses Patent for Medical Marijuana

Last year Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado questioned the head of the DEA, Michelle Leonhart. She repeatedly refused to give the congressman an clear honest answer. The congressman was trying to have a straight open debate and all he got was the run around.

 The governments lack of credibility enforcing cannabis prohibition is out there for everyone to see, but unfortunately when a defendant goes to trial they'll most likely be unable to effectively attack the government's credibility, and prosecutors are hoping a potential juror is uneducated to these facts.  In a nutshell a perfect juror for the prosecution is an ignorant juror... For a defense lawyer that's the last thing they would want.

All these things are out there for one to discover for a potential juror. If they can realize how unjust this law is, maybe we can finally change cannabis laws once and for all.

- Junk Science

All over the country there have been multitudes of cases where drug testing labs have tainted evidence to support  the prosecution. Most folks do not realize that the drug testing procedures used to determine if a substance is cannabis is supposed to be a subjective test not a definitive one, yet although it is admissible as evidence in court, it commonly gives false positives for cannabis with a multitude of other substances.

A miscarriage of justice on marijuana US police are using a flawed scientific test in drugs busts that gives 'false positives' to strongarm citizens into plea bargaining

A few years ago, I was on a Grand Jury for several months. I helped several people have cannabis cases dismissed, from possession to intent to distribute.  To the chagrin of visibly irate police officers, because they could not sway my vote to have them prosecuted.  I kind of rocked the boat when they realized they had a cannabis friendly juror and they were not able to do anything about it.

Part of being on that Grand Jury was they give you a tour of the jail, and the sheriff gives the tour. I still remember how he had a gleeful tone in his voice and a twinkle in his eye when he invited us to his next big asset forfeiture auction. He was telling us about all the cars he had acquired and hoped that the folks would stop on by and support their sheriffs department.

So I believe the reason why prosecutors don't want a juror to know about jury nullification are  because they know that if people were to be aware of this that they would lose. The big bad tiger called government does not like losing.  They will intentionally screen out potential jurors who they think will impose jury nullification, or are aware of it.  If you contest a cannabis charge, they feel impelled to stack the deck against you to use the jurors to support their weak law.

When it comes down to it, if that's what they have to do to win, then we are truly winning. More and more folks need to be educated about jury nullification to the point where prosecutors will have no choice but to accept them on jury pools..

In the meantime if you're selected for jury duty and you support cannabis legalization , Do your duty, be professional, and keep your mouth shut until it is time to deliberate. You don't have to explain to the other jurors why you think a person is not guilty. You just have to say to yourself  "The law is wrong, not them"

If you want to become more educated on Jury Nullification, this is a good place to start.


comments powered by Disqus