HUGE NEWS: Jury Nullifies Felony in Cannabis Grower’s Trial!

Pot LeafIn a developing story that has hit Reason.com, an NH jury has acquitted a man facing a felony for growing cannabis! It’s our first real-life case of jury nullification here in NH and the jury nullification law hasn’t even gone into effect yet. Kudos to the judge for reading a fair and easy-to-understand jury instruction about nullifying as an option! Also, it probably helped that a free stater was on the jury!

If you are an self-described anarchist or agorist and you are not registered to vote, you need to remedy that now. Being on the voter’s rolls means you could be chosen as a juror, which means that even if you never actually cast a vote in an election, you could cast a vote on a jury that could stop someone’s life from being ruined. Here is the proof. Is there still any doubt the Free State Project is working? If you haven’t made the move, what are you waiting for?

Here’s the story from Reason, which includes the judge’s instruction to the jury:

A few months ago, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a bill declaring that “in all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.” Although the new law does not take effect until next January, a case decided yesterday in Belknap County illustrates the importance of the nullification power it recognizes. A jury unanimously acquitted Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian charged with marijuana cultivation, after his lawyer, Mark Sisti, argued that a conviction would be unjust in light of the fact that Darrell was growing cannabis for his own religious and medicinal use. More remarkably, Judge James O’Neill instructed the jury that “even if you find that the State has proven each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find the defendant not guilty if you have a conscientious feeling that a not guilty verdict would be a fair result in this case.”

That is New Hampshire’s model jury instruction on the nullification issue, but each judge has discretion whether to give it. In this case, since Sisti argued in favor of nullification and the prosecutor, Stacey Kaelin, argued against it, O’Neill agreed to clarify the law by giving an explicit instruction. The jury, which deliberated for six hours on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, twice asked to hear the instruction again. Sisti, who has been practicing law for 33 years, says this is the first time he has persuaded a judge to tell jurors they have the power to vote their consciences. He hopes the new law will make such instructions more common, if not standard.

Darrell was arrested in 2009 after members of a marijuana eradication task force spotted his plants from a National Guard helicopter flying over his home in Barnstead. Sisti tried unsuccessfully to have the evidence suppressed, aguing that the aerial surveillance was illegal because the helicopter flew below what the Federal Aviation Administration considers a safe altitude, thereby violating Darrell’s reasonable expectation of privacy. The Belknap County Attorney’s Office, evidently eager to get rid of a case that involved just 15 plants and no distribution, offered Darrell a series of increasingly lenient plea deals, culminating in an offer that entailed a misdemeanor guilty plea with no jail time or fine. Darrell turned all the offers down, Sisti said, because “he didn’t think he was guilty of anything; it’s a sacrament in his religion.” Instead he went to trial on a charge of manufacturing a controlled drug, a Class B felony that carries a penalty of three and a half to seven years in prison. Darrell’s first trial ended in a mistrial last November due to prosecutorial error. His second trial ended in yesterday’s acquittal.

“Cases like this shouldn’t be brought,” Sisti says. “And when they are brought, I think that safety valve, that nullification safety valve, is very important. Other states had better start waking up, because without it, people are going to be convicted of very serious charges through hypocrisy. The jury’s going to think they can’t do anything else, and that’s wrong.”

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  • http://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/ PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    “If you are an self-described anarchist or agorist and you are not
    registered to vote, you need to remedy that now. Being on the voter’s
    rolls means you could be chosen as a juror, which means that even if you
    never actually cast a vote in an election, you could cast a vote on a
    jury that could stop someone’s life from being ruined.”

    Somehow I never considered this. Thank you. I will be registering to vote shortly.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Billy-Mckee/100000500808363 Billy Mckee

    This is awesome news and is what we were trying to do here in NZ but we were not allowed to inform the jury of their rights. This is unfair.

  • revraygreen

    FREE NJ WEEDMAN

  • http://twitter.com/MCMyAss John Ringer

    Take a minute to realize the prosecutor and his team are probably royally pissed off. They probably don’t see this as “the system working.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patricia-Lee/100000519163743 Patricia Lee

    Jury nullification is an important tool and final check and balance that defends the individual from unjust law. So sad that activist have to fight for Jury Nullification as Judges suppress the work of the jury.

  • Uncle_Dutch

    Most of thinking and [honestly] ethical America is, more and more, openly ignoring the laws prohibiting marijuana use/cultivation at the local level. It only remains steadfastly vilified at the Federal level, and we all know why…paper pulp, cotton, big pharma, private prisons, prison guard & police unions, etc. all have a vested interest in keeping the wondrous plant firmly anchored on Schedule 1…legalization would put a big giant crimp in their revenue stream. See…that pony got out of the barn decades ago, and just think of the obscene amount of $$ that has been wasted trying to wrangle it back in, not to mention the lives & careers ruined.

  • RobertChase

    In permitting jurors to judge the application of the law, New Hampshire
    should be a model for the nation. Repudiate the judicial fascists
    across America who have helped make this the Land of Prisons! This will not be the “land of the free” at least until we no longer lead the world in
    incarceration — our hypocrisy is choking us..

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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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  • thebestrealestateguy

    The article erred in suggesting that ” self-described anarchist or agorist and you are not registered to vote, you need to remedy that now. Being on the voter’s rolls means you could be chosen as a juror,”

    When you register to vote it is a hidden contract that makes you a slave. what needs to happen is to get all off the voter registration so they dont have jurors to trick into giving a guilty verdict. we need to find out how to become electors. I suggest that you read THE ERRANT SOVEREIGN’S HANDBOOK by. Augustus Blackstone.

    WE need common law grand juries investigating all branches of the government first for breach of oath of which their first duty is to protect and maintain individual rights. I dont use drugs , but i believe it is person’s right to do what ever he wants to so long as he does no injury or tresspass on someones rights and he does what he agrees to do. There is no other law authorized by the various constitutions.