EXCLUSIVE: Juror in Cannabis Nullification Case Speaks Out!

As reported earlier, a NH jury has found a man not guilty of growing cannabis in the first-ever (that I know of) use of jury nullification in NH! Now one of the jurors, who happens to be a Free State Project participant, Cathleen, is speaking out.

Below is her written statement about her experience on the jury and here is a link to this evening’s episode of Free Talk Live, where we had Cathleen on-air to discuss.

I don’t believe in divine intervention but providence definitely was in play. To put me in the spot, the enviable spot, of a jury seat with a sympathetic defendant accused of growing pot for personal use. Not only was I lucky enough to be placed on that jury, I was lucky to not have had previous knowledge of the defendant or the case as it all came down rather close to home. About a mile away from my home to be more specific.

On July 9, 2009 a military helicopter buzzed and circled the defendant’s home and likely mine as well. Pictures, warrant, search and seizure ensued. These were the facts laid out before us. There wasn’t any conflicting testimony, none. It’s pot; he grew it; he knew it. But not case closed.

Attorney Sisti’s opening remarks told the story. The facts were only part of the story. The real question was whether a guilty verdict was the just thing to do. Testimony was cut and dried like the evidence.

Closing remarks were more impassioned. Attorney Sisti laid out what nullification was for us. The key to the explanation was the difference between must and should in the judge’s instructions. The prosecutor’s closing arguments were framed to leave the impression that nullification was only for the most extraordinary cases and gave a life or death example.

Deliberations began slowly and disorganized. When someone asked if anyone knew about nullification, I gave a brief explanation of it, mentioning FIJA and that nullification helped end alcohol prohibition. There was little discussion. The facts of the case and whether intent was clear given the defendant’s claim of legal protection for his religious sacramental use of marijuana was discussed.

When the search was discussed, I disclosed that I knew where the house was as it was near my house. This earned me an invitation to the judge’s chambers. I am pleased to say that marble and mahogany were not apparent. His concern was that the jury might be compromised by this information was put before the attorneys and the other jurors. None of this deemed to influence us, so we all went back to deliberating. Close call.

This jury did have a diverse a makeup as can be expected in NH. There were a variety of individuals from a range of walks of life if not ethnic diversity. After a couple of hours, we felt at an impasse. People of both sides of the guilty/not guilty divide couldn’t see a way to come together. The judge instructed us to keep at it. A break for the night was needed to clear thoughts and concerns.

The next morning was more organized and with more discussion of intent. The consensus was forming though toward guilt. We could clearly see the defense was resting its case on the nullification argument. We put the facts aside to give nullification consideration. The written definition was requested and posted on a chalk board. Some discussion occurred regarding what would be extraordinary enough to nullify. Several law and order proponents (not to say we all don’t want some law and order) had serious concerns about the precedent a not guilty verdict would set. What kind of chaos would ensue if this became common? Would finding this defendant not guilty give him a pass to keep on breaking the law? One by one the responses were offered and chewed upon. I fully expected a deadlock. One juror even felt relief at the prospect on the chance that the prosecution would retry.

The turning point was when one of the jurors declared that after reading the definition on nullification its reliance on “conscientious feeling” and “fair result”. It nowhere said extraordinary. And thus the last three jurors agreed that they could nullify.

  • http://twitter.com/SnowDog2003 Snowdog

    Ian, we’re making it happen, dude…

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  • MikeParent

    Legalize and Regulate!

    “THE CHILDREN”

    If they really cared for the children they’d legalize and regulate
    marijuana. If they really wanted to keep any substance out of the hands
    of “The Children” they first must take control of distribution away from
    black market dealers. They haven’t accomplished that in 40+ years at a
    taxpayers cost in the hundreds of billions. It’s time to treat marijuana
    as we do alcohol. My 27 year old daughter still gets carded when she
    buys alcohol, yet your 13 year old can buy anything the black market
    dealer has for a price whether it be money or “something else”.

    FACT: Your kids have a better chance dying at the hands of someone
    enforcing marijuana laws than they do from ingesting it.(ZERO %).
    LEAP member, NYPD, ret.

    http://www.pitt.edu/~ugr/Hrych2.pdf Scientific Proof Marijuna is not a Gateway drug!
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57456999-10391704/medical-marijua

    wont-boost-teen-pot-use-study-finds/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Speed/100000465301077 Thomas Speed

    Well done!

    I tried but failed in a similar case, I ended up getting 200 hours ‘community payback’. (I’ve done nothing to the ‘community’)

    Anyway, give this a read and you’ll see that what you did was absolutely correct! http://www.barefootsworld.net/trial01.html


    TRIAL BY JURY

    CHAPTER I

    THE RIGHT OF JURIES TO JUDGE OF THE JUSTICE OF LAWS

    SECTION I.

    FOR more than six hundred years – that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 –
    there has been no clearer principle of English or American
    constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the
    right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law,
    and what was the moral intent of the accused; but
    that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to
    judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are,
    in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in
    violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.

    Unless such be the right and duty of jurors, it is plain that, instead
    of juries being a “palladium of liberty “- a barrier against the tyranny
    and oppression of the government – they are really mere tools in its
    hands, for carrying into execution any injustice and oppression it may
    desire to have executed.

    But for their right to judge of the law, and the justice of the law, juries would be no protection to an accused person, even as to matters of fact;
    for, if the government can dictate to a jury any law whatever, in a
    criminal case, it can certainly dictate to them the laws of evidence.
    That is, it can dictate what evidence is admissible, and what
    inadmissible, and also what force or weight is to be given to the evidence admitted.
    And if the government can thus dictate to a jury the laws of evidence,
    it can not only make it necessary for them to convict on a partial
    exhibition of the evidence rightfully pertaining to the case, but it can
    even require them to convict on any evidence whatever that it pleases
    to offer them.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Malcolm-Kyle/100001700224506 Malcolm Kyle

    Ending prohibition would greatly reduce, even almost eliminate, the market in illegal narcotics, cause a reduction in the number of users and addicts, greatly curtail drug related illness and deaths, reduce societal harm from problematic abusers, and bring about an enormous reduction in the presence and influence of organized crime. The people who use drugs are our own children, our brothers, our sisters, our parents, and our neighbors. By allowing all adults safe and controlled legal access to psychoactive substances, we will not only greatly reduce the dangers for both them and ourselves but also greatly minimize the possibility of ‘peer-initiation’ and sales to minors.

    If you sincerely believe that prohibition is a dangerous and counter-productive policy then you can stop helping to enforce it. You are entitled—required even—to act according to your conscience!

    * It only takes one juror to prevent a guilty verdict.

    * You are not lawfully required to disclose your voting intention before taking your seat on a jury.

    * You are also not required to give a reason to the other jurors on your position when voting. Simply state that you find the accused not guilty!

    * Jurors must understand that it is their opinion, their vote. If the Judge and the other jurors disapprove, too bad. There is no punishment for having a dissenting opinion.

    “It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” —John Adams

    We must create what we can no longer afford to wait for: PLEASE VOTE TO ACQUIT!

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  • charlieprimero

    Good work.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jose-Gonzales/100003694111815 Jose Gonzales

    It is amazing at how well the major media has kept this out of the news.

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  • RW

    Nowhere is jury nullification a spelled-out right, but it exists because of two other rights: the constitutional protection against double-jeopardy, and the protection of the jury against punishment for their verdict or their deliberations. Judges are allowed to try and stop it in advance by pulling jurors, but once the verdict is decided, its too late. basically this means that the instructions given to the jury on how to proceed are *optional*, not written in stone. This is very misleading. They also dont want the jury to know it has this latitude, but it does. Its sort of a “hole” in the framework. So you are basically allowed to decide the verdict any way you like for any reason you choose.

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