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Archive for September 17th, 2012

Illinois law should be changed so that juries can acquit guilty person if they feel it is just

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Jurors have a legal right to vote their conscience and ignore judges instructions if they believe the law is unjust.

Jury nullification is when a jury, despite the State proving all the elements  of a crime and the offender being technically guilty, decides that they will not convict the person because they believe it would be bad for society – either they believe the charge is fraudulent, the law is incorrect, or there is some other reason that the person should not be convicted.

Jury nullification is legal and binding in all states, but all states except New Hampshire prohibit the defense attorney from informing the jury about this option. The jury is just supposed to divine this information by inspiration.

In New Hampshire, a law was passed that allows the court to inform the jury of the jury nullification option.

In New Hampshire, on Friday September 14, 2012, a jury used jury nullification to declare Rastafarian Doug Darrel not guilty of a felony marijuana cultivation charge. The jury believed that punishing him for the offense would be unjust.

Darrel claimed he grew 15 marijuana plants for personal medicinal and religious purposes. His religion permits marijuana for religious purposes.

A little old straight-laced lady on the jury  stated she found him not guilty because she

knew that my community would be poorer rather than better off had he been convicted.

Due to the new jury nullification information law the judge read to the jury the following statement:

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.

If this law applied to all states, as marijuana use is widespread and no more harmful than alcohol, with the majority of the population agreeing that it should be legalized, citizens would clearly find all those arrested for marijuana  possession and growing marijuana for medical or personal use not guilty. This would be a method that citizens could use to negate bad laws.  I’m all for it, despite the fact I never use marijuana!

For more information see the web site of the Fully Informed Jury Association here.

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