Fully Informed Jury Association

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 14 Mar 2014

-Jurors: Be Skeptical of Snitches


Jury BoxAlexandra Natapoff, author of Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice, defines snitching as “the practice by which offenders—criminal suspects and defendants—can trade away their own liability or shorten their sentences or get other benefits from the government by giving them information.”

Watch this five minute video to learn how pervasive snitching is, not in delivering justice, but in greasing the wheels of the legal system to facilitate convictions and promote incarceration. Natapoff also discusses police exercise of their own nullification power by declining to arrest based on their own, unreviewable discretion.

Jurors should be fully aware when they are deliberating the fate of another human being that the only difference between who is sitting at the defendant’s table and the witness on the stand snitching on the defendant is who caved in first to pressure exerted by law enforcement and prosecutors. In many cases, the witness may have done something worse than the defendant, and was therefore more motivated to make a deal to squeal.

Take for example the case of Rich Paul, convicted primarily of marijuana-related offenses, thanks to government collusion with a snitch named Richie DuPont sent by an FBI agent to make illegal purchases from Paul in exchange for leniency for heroin offenses. And what was the FBI going after Rich Paul for? Were they interested in snaring him on marijuana charges? No, as Paul explained in a 2013 interview with FIJA, the FBI wanted drug charges to hang over his head in order to strong arm him into infiltrating a local community group and acting as a government snitch for political purposes:

The other thing that’s interesting here is that when I was first picked up, I was interviewed by the FBI. They offered to put me back on the street and let me continue selling pot so long as I would wear a wire into the Keene Activist Center, which is a political group. We have nothing to do with drugs. I happen to be a member, and obviously I smoke weed. But it’s not a criminal organization-it’s a political organization. They tried to get me to wear a wire in there and entrap my friends into selling these things so that they could be blackmailed in turn. That’s how this whole thing started. They didn’t want me because I was smoking weed. They wanted me because I’m an anarchist and they thought they could get information out of me.

In this case, Paul was threatened with 81 years in prison unless he cooperated, yet he still refused to snitch. Ultimately, he did serve some time in jail, based on the snitching of DuPont who, for his own personal gain, colluded with government agents to entrap Paul.