Fully Informed Jury Association

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FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 21 May 2013

-San Diego Mayor Filner Urges Jury Nullification

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Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

We have more news this morning that FIJA’s educational outreach efforts are paying off through the hard work of activists nationwide, this time from San Diego, California:

Filner Urges ‘Jury Nullification’ In Medical Pot Dispensary Case

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has injected himself into a federal criminal case against the operator of a medical marijuana dispensary, intensifying his standoff with federal prosecutors on cannabis enforcement issues.

Filner’s urging jurors who’ll be chosen for the trial to reject federal law in favor of state statutes under a centuries-old legal concept known as “jury nullification”– whereby jurors can refuse to convict people under laws they believe should not be applied.

It’s a bold, brash move that’s potentially controversial and politically risky for a mayor.

But that’s not atypical of the former “Freedom Rider” who served two months of jail time in Mississippi during the early years of the Civil Rights Era.

“It’s time, like with Prohibition, to step back and say this was a stupid thing to do,” Filner said outside the courthouse. “Let’s step back, and juries ought to take the lead and say that to the federal government…and if the federal government isn’t listening to the mayor, maybe they’ll listen to the jury.”

Click through for the entire article.

Not only was Mayor Filner’s passionate advocacy of justice through fully informed juries covered by the local NBC affiliate, but this news was also carried by U-T San Diego:

Filner urges jurors to reject medpot case

In a statement released through Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, Filner endorsed a controversial legal concept called jury nullification.

This occurs when a jury acquits someone of the charges against them, even if they believe the person to be guilty, if they disagree with the law that the defendant is charged with. It allows individual jurors to follow their conscience, but critics say it violates the juror’s basic role — to determine the facts in a case and apply the law to reach a result.

In the statement, Filner said jury nullification allows the people’s “will to prevail.” He said that the concept “holds that jurors have a right and even a duty to vote their conscience if they feel the government is engaged in injustice.”

Filner reportedly had a conversation prior to the press conference with Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator, who points to FIJA’s website for information on jurors’ traditional, legal authority to nullify.
Mayor Filner to Speak at Press Conference Against Gag Order in Federal Medical Marijuana Case

Upon learning of the Chang case, Mayor Filner spoke with Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator and issued the following statement on Thursday, May 16, 2013:

“In cases like these, where Ronnie Chang will face a jury of his peers, jurors may be faced with decisions about unjust laws. There is a mechanism for the peoples’ will to prevail. It is called jury nullification and holds that jurors have a right and even a duty to vote their conscience if they feel the government is engaged in injustice. In voting to acquit victims of unjust laws, jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts.”

Terrie Best points to a website, www.Fija.org (Fully Informed Jury Association) where the public is encouraged to read about jury nullification, its history and why our forefathers set up the jury of twelve peers trial system in order to protect against tyranny of government.

Click through for the entire article.

Many thanks to Terrie Best and to all the FIJA activists educating Californians about their right when serving on a jury to refuse to enforce unjust or unjustly applied laws and their responsibility to protect defendants and all of us from abusive prosecutions by government.

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