Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification | 20 Apr 2015

-Stimson Verdict Not An Anti-Jury Nullification Statement


marijuana jury nullification thumbnailLast month, a jury convicted Todd Stimson of multiple, victimless, marijuana-related offenses, in connection with his business The Blue Ridge Medical Cannabis Research Corp. that ran openly for years, complete with business licenses from and paying taxes to the government. There were many problems with the evidence in his trial including decomposed and moldy evidence, as well as evidence that was missing completely or appeared to have been tampered with.

Supporters had reportedly hoped for jury nullification in his trial, but his jury convicted him in just minutes. Retired attorney and activist Jen Foster reports that this cannot be properly interpreted as a rejection of jury nullification by the jury. Rather than pursuing a jury nullification strategy in court, the defense was banking on the condition of the evidence to result in an acquittal.

Explaining the Stimson decision

But, a nullification defense was never presented at trial. As things often go, there was a surprise. When the defense asked to produce the actual evidence allegedly seized in this case, giant garbage cans of decaying, rotting material were discovered. The courtroom had to be cleared and off-site inspection revealed that evidence had been repackaged and degraded. The SBI lab technician testified, in no uncertain terms, that she would have not accepted this evidence had it been presented to her in that state, and that it was not in that condition when it arrived at her lab.

Based on this turn of events, and after a motion to dismiss was denied, Stimson’s attorneys made a strategic decision to not present evidence, and seek a not guilty verdict immediately. They believed that the state had not presented sufficient evidence of the weight of 10 pounds required for the charges. This strategy backfired, however. The jury returned guilty verdicts on both counts in 40 minutes, finding the state had proved the existence of more than 10 pounds, despite the unrecognizable evidence.

Thus, contrary to his original trial plan, Stimson did not present a nullification defense: he did not make any arguments about medical cannabis, he did not present evidence about his business licenses, or vast amount of taxes paid, he did not testify and presented no witnesses as to the impact of this prosecution on himself and his family.