Jury Nullification : Peers Refuse to Convict Disabled Vet in Pot Bust





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"Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction... if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong." ~ Alexander Hamilton, 1804.

'The Vietnam veteran walks with a cane, has bad knees and feet and says he uses marijuana to relieve body pain, as well as to help cope with post traumatic stress.'

Maybe this is how the war on marijuana ends.

A rural Illinois jury has found one of their peers innocent in a marijuana case that would have sent him to prison. Loren Swift (pictured below) was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and he faced a mandatory minimum of six years behind bars.

According to Dan Churney at MyWebTimes , several jurors were seen shaking Swift's hand after the verdict, a couple of them were talking and laughing with Swift and his lawyer, and one juror slapped Swift on the back.

The 59-year-old was arrested after officers from a state "drug task force" found 25 pounds of pot and 50 pounds of growing plants in his home in 2007. The Vietnam veteran walks with a cane, has bad knees and feet and says he uses marijuana to relieve body pain, as well as to help cope with post traumatic stress.

This jury exercised their right of jury nullification. Judges and prosecutors never tell you this, but when you serve on a jury, it's not just the defendant on trial. It's the law as well. If you don't like the law and think applying it in this particular case would be unjust, then you don't have to find the defendant guilty, even if the evidence clearly indicates guilt.

In jury nullification, a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her. There is intense pressure within the legal system to keep this power under wraps. But the fact of the matter is that when laws are deemed unjust, there is the right of the jury not to convict.

Jury nullification is crucially important because until our national politicians show some backbone on the issue of marijuana law reform, it's one of the only ways to avoid imposing hideously cruel "mandatory minimum" penalties on marijuana users who don't deserve to go to prison.

Prosecuting and jailing people for marijuana wastes valuable resources, including court and police time and tax dollars. Hundreds of thousands of otherwise productive, law-abiding people have been deprived of their freedom, their families, their homes and their jobs. Let's save the jails for real criminals, not pot smokers.

The American public is very near the tipping point where a majority no longer believes the official line coming from Drug Warrior politicians and their friends at the ONDCP, gung-ho narcotics officers protecting their profitable turf, and sensationalistic, scare-mongering news stories used to boost ratings. They are starting to see through the widening cracks in the wall of denial when it comes to marijuana's salutary medical effects on a host of illnesses and its palliative effects for the terminally ill and permanently disabled.

People are coming to realize that not only have they been sold a lie when it comes to marijuana -- they've been sold a particularly cruel lie, a self-perpetuating falsehood of epic proportions that has controlled U.S. public policy towards the weed for 70 years now. The extreme cruelty of the lies told about marijuana by drug warriors is in the effects this culture of fear and intolerance has in the real world -- effects like long prison sentences for gentle people who are productive and caring members of society.

Because citizens are coming to this long-delayed realization, we are going to be seeing more and more cases like this where juries have chosen not to punish people for pot. As this consciousness permeates all levels of society, it is going to get harder and harder for prosecutors to get guilty verdicts in marijuana cases -- and that's a good thing.

Maybe this is how the war on marijuana ends... Not with a bang, but a whimper, as cousin T.S. would say.

What You Can Do

* If you ever serve on a jury where the defendant is accused of a marijuana crime, don't forget about jury nullification. Tell the other jurors you don't have to convict, even if all the evidence points to guilt, if you don't agree with the application of the law in this instance. And if you can't swing your peers to your way of thinking, at least you can cause the jury to return a hung verdict.

* American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Drug Policy

* Change The Climate: Time to Tell the Truth About Marijuana

* Drug Policy Alliance: Alternatives to Prohibition and the Drug War

* Marijuana Policy Project

* National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

"It is not only the juror's right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court." ~ John Adams, 1771.

Views: 990

Comment by A Lund on February 13, 2009 at 4:56am
Can't change stupid - 25 lbs is NOT personal use. Sorry bro... he may need it, but this was not the case to use to support your argument.
Comment by Patrick on February 13, 2009 at 9:58am
Personal use or not, it's nice to see someone get nullified for it. Who cares if he was selling? Someone needs to. And pot laws are fucking retarded as is. Make it legal and vuala, Walmart's selling it instead.
Comment by Marklar on February 13, 2009 at 2:23pm
Actually I made no argument pinhead. I only posted an article. If I intended any point at all it was to remind people of jury nullification which is spoken of far to little with far too few in the know. If we say it's legal then it's legal, bubba. You got a problem with authority or something? LMFAO.
Comment by Dodoba on February 13, 2009 at 2:54pm
Ok..no need for name calling there Marklar. You did make an argument, and I believe this was it:

"Jury nullification is crucially important because until our national politicians show some backbone on the issue of marijuana law reform, it's one of the only ways to avoid imposing hideously cruel "mandatory minimum" penalties on marijuana users who don't deserve to go to prison.

Prosecuting and jailing people for marijuana wastes valuable resources, including court and police time and tax dollars. Hundreds of thousands of otherwise productive, law-abiding people have been deprived of their freedom, their families, their homes and their jobs. Let's save the jails for real criminals, not pot smokers."

That is not reporting a fact, that is you making your point. Good opinion piece though. I do fully support your argument and agree that more people need to know their rights when sitting on a jury.
Comment by Phil E. Drifter on February 14, 2009 at 1:02am
This is a great piece of news, but all too often people can't afford their own lawyer and are given a 'public defender' which i can tell you first-hand absolutely DOES NOT CARE about defending. They offer you a plea bargain in order to lighten their own load. And when you take a plea bargain, you remove the judge and jury from the equation and it's automatic guilt for a lesser sentence. Need to make sure people know to not plead out in nonviolent drug cases, and make sure the juries know about nullification.
Comment by Marklar on February 14, 2009 at 5:18am
Around here we call them public pretenders and prostituters.

Nobody should ever cop a plea unless they are stone cold guilty. Many prosecutors with 10 or 12 false charges unless they take a plea on the premise that you can't win a number of court cases in a row. This is why 80% of all inmates never received a trial by jury.
Comment by peter b dunn on November 22, 2010 at 7:14pm
respect thank your for the imnformation
Comment by Nathan on July 7, 2012 at 5:29pm

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