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Jury Nullification | 08 Nov 2013

-Former Prosecutor to Jurors: Jury Nullification!


DCMetroAdAnother great interview with Professor Paul Butler, who has personal experience with Washington, D.C.’s long history of jury nullification. In discussing jury nullification with The Nation, Butler cites it as one of the reasons we’re seeing a shift against criminalization of marijuana.

Former Prosecutor to Jurors: Nullify!

LS: How did you arrive at jury nullification as a tactic for fighting the drug war?

PB: I learned jury nullification from the jurors of the District of Columbia. It was commonplace that if you had a young, black defendant charged with drug possession, DC jurors were not going to send them to jail. They didn’t want to send another black man to jail. When senior prosecutors first told us rookies about this, they would roll their eyes in exasperation. Like, here we are trying to improve their city, and they don’t have the sense to lock up all these cretins. (In the prosecutor’s office, that’s what we called the defendants: “cretins” and “douche bags.”) When I left the prosecutor’s office and started to teach, it was the thing I was the most interested in studying. From a scholarly perspective, I found that it’s a proud part of our constitutional tradition, that it’s perfectly legal and indeed was embraced by the framers as a way to protect people from too powerful law enforcement and too powerful prosecutors. It says that people from the community, not the government, should have the ultimate authority over what happens to a criminal defendant.

Click through for the entire article.