Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 10 Oct 2012

The Only ‘Civic Duty’ Worth Your Time

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As elections approach, Joel Poindexter argues that jury duty is the only ‘civic duty’ worth the time it takes. As a juror, your VOTE is your VETO!

The Only ‘Civic Duty’ Worth Your Time

Most people I know do their best to get out of jury duty, but it’s something I actually look forward to, and hope to be selected for at some point. This is because sitting on a jury is the only “civic duty” I find to be at least halfway morally acceptable and worth my time. Unlike during elections, when on a jury, your vote actually counts for something and individual members can make a difference in the trial’s outcome, and even on the very laws in question.

There was a time in our history when it was commonly understood that juries weren’t merely selected to decide whether a particular defendant was innocent or guilty, but were also charged with deciding if the law itself was legitimate. A jury would consider whether the accused should even be in court, not just whether the prosecutor had sufficiently cherry-picked his evidence and met the legal requirement for obtaining a conviction. And if the law was unjust, if it violated the natural rights of the accused, then the jury would nullify it, thereby releasing the accused and effectively tossing out the law at the same time.

Click through for the entire article.

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FIJA in the News | 04 Oct 2012

Memorial for FIJA Co-Founder Dr. Larry Dodge

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For those of you in Montana or nearby, we want to let you know that there will be a memorial this weekend for FIJA co-founder Larry Dodge, who passed away this summer.

Dr. Lawrence Burnham Dodge

Friends and family will gather for Larry’s memorial on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. at the Helmville Community Hall.

Larry’s favorite organizations were The Fully Informed Jury Association, Habitat for Humanity, The Property and Environment Research Center and Gun Owners of America.

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Jury Rights Day | 02 Oct 2012

Fairbanks, Alaska Jury Rights Day 2012 Activism

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Thanks to FIJA State Contact Frank Turney for another eventful Jury Rights Day in 2012. We are happy to share with you some photos from his sidewalk outreach in front of the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks, Alaska, plus the Jury Rights Day proclamation he obtained, signed by Fairbanks, Alaska Mayor Jerry Cleworth.

Activist Victor Buberge (left) and FIJA State Contact Frank Turney (right) carrying the FIJA banner outside the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks, Alaska.

 

 

FIJA outreach on Jury Rights Day 2012 at the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks, Alaska with activists (from left to right) Ben Henry, Victor Buberge, and Frank Turney.

 

 

FIJA State Contact Frank Turney being interviewed on Jury Rights Day in Fairbanks, Alaska.

 

 

Jury Rights Day 2012 proclamation from Fairbanks, Alaska Mayor Jerry Cleworth, courtesy of FIJA State Contact Frank Turney.

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 02 Oct 2012

Top Secret: You Can Nullify The Drug War

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The following article, by Abel Tomlinson, was published in The Free Weekly in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on 27 September 2012. One note: jury nullification is explicitly acknowledged the Constitutions of 24 states, with the Constitutions of Georgia (Article I, Section 1), Indiana (Article 1, Section 19), Maryland (Declaration of Rights, Article 23, and Oregon (Article 1, Section 16) specifically guaranteeing the right to jury nullification in all criminal cases.

More information on state language on jury nullification can be found in our online Library. See the document entitled Current State Constitutional Authority for Jury Veto.

Top Secret: You Can Nullify The Drug War

Arkansas judges intentionally keep you ignorant through carefully crafted “jury instructions.” In an Arkansas jury trial, the judge will tell you the following:

“I instruct you on the law to be applied … You would deny the parties their right to a fair trial if you based your decision on something other than the law and evidence presented … or on some legal rule other than the ones I give you…So the basic principle is this: You are to decide this case fairly, based only on the evidence I allow to be presented in this courtroom and the law as instructed by me. You are not to consider information from any other source (Ark. Model Jury Instr. (November 2011).”

This jury instruction is very misleading, and it too deserves to be nullified as unjust. There is not one mention whatsoever about the very long history of jury nullification that traces beyond our nation’s founding. Furthermore, this instruction is a fear tactic of the highest degree to scare jurors into groveling at the feet of authority, as if the judge was King George.

Just as nullification helped end prohibition, it is now necessary for potential jurors everywhere to become informed and end the tyranny of the Drug War. Not only are we locking thousands upon thousands of peaceful humans in cages for victimless crime, but federal and state governments are now spending over $50 billion annually on a war that experts conclude has been a complete failure. The 2011 report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy explicitly finds: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world …”

A 2011 Gallup poll found that 50 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. A recent National Law Journal poll also found 75 percent of Americans would act on their own beliefs of morality regardless of a judge’s jury instruction. Hence, it is now time to act. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at George Washington University wrote in the New York Times:

“If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.”

Click through for the entire article.

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 01 Oct 2012

Raw Milk Co-Op Farmer Acquitted Through Jury Nullification

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Another article on the case of farmer Alvin Schlangen, who was acquitted by a jury on several non-violent charges related to raw milk distribution:

Raw Milk Co-Op Farmer Acquitted Through Jury Nullification

echnically, Alvin was guilty of breaking the laws in question, even though the laws are totally ridiculous and unjust. Luckily this jury was informed about the process of jury nullification, and their legal right to rule in favor of the accused for breaking unjust laws.

According to Iloilo Jones, director of the Fully Informed Jury Association “Minnesota has long had highly visible FIJA Activists volunteering their time and efforts to educate every potential juror in Minnesota about the right of the people to veto bad laws through the use of the Juror Veto, or, as it is commonly called, Jury Nullification. As laws become more and more invasive, punitive, and draconian, prison populations become more and more peopled by harmless, productive people, who have harmed no other person. Jurors can stop the enforcement of bad laws. Jurors have stopped bad laws since freedom of religion was defended by jurors, and by later jurors who refused to enforce slavery. We, the owners of all government, retain the peaceful, lawful right to refuse to enforce bad laws made by some judge or politician. Courageous jurors have always stood firm—for the human rights of their families and neighbors—by refusing to sanction bad laws. The right of the People to drink the milk of their choice, and to feed their children healthy foods, is a human right.”

Click through for the entire article. This article was also published at LewRockwell.com and on theintelhub.com. It was also reported by the Tenth Amendment Center on their Tenther News program and the Bastiat Institute.

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Function of Juries | 30 Sep 2012

Oregon Appeals Court Rules for More Jury Trials

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The Oregon Appeals Court has ruled that prosecutors may not simply make an end run around the Oregon Constitution by reducing criminal misdemeanor charges to violations on par with traffic tickets in order to deny defendants’ rights to trial by jury.

Oregon appeals ruling on jury trials worries court officials about clogging overloaded justice system

the Appeals Court ruled that a 44-year-old woman who was arrested and briefly booked into jail on shoplifting allegations in 2010 was wrongly denied a trial by jury. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office had reduced Tawanna Fuller’s two misdemeanor charges — third-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft — to violations, and a judge denied her a jury trial.

A judge then found Fuller guilty of both violations and ordered her to pay a $600 fine.

Fuller appealed, saying that despite the prosecution’s argument that she wasn’t charged with criminal wrongdoing, she still suffered the stigma of being labeled a thief and should have gotten a jury trial. The Court of Appeals agreed.

Attorneys aren’t sure how far the ruling goes — whether it’s limited to only low-level theft and shoplifting cases like Fuller’s or whether it applies to defendants facing all kinds of other misdemeanor charges downgraded to violations.

The most immediate effect of this ruling is the delay of numerous Occupy cases the Multnomah County prosecutor had chosen to pursue as violations instead of misdemeanors, thereby denying defendants’ rights to argue their cases before juries. The ruling has called into question the status of dozens of Occupy Portland protesters’ cases, including some which have already gone before a judge instead of a jury.

Oregon Appeals Court Rules for More Jury Trials

Attorney Bear Wilner-Nugent, representing four Occupy protesters for free, said scores more remain to be tried.

Nearly 200 people were arrested on charges such as disorderly conduct, trespassing and interfering with police in Occupy demonstrations in late 2011 and early 2012.

The district attorney’s office decided to pursue many of the cases as violations, not misdemeanors, and a judge ruled that the protesters didn’t have a right to a jury trial.

More than half of the 200 agreed to plea deals, but more than 90 have dug in for a fight and requested trials. A few dozen have already gone to trial before a judge.

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Jury Nullification | 29 Sep 2012

Jury Nullification Alive and Well

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Linda Bentley of Arizona’s Sonoran News discusses historical and modern uses of jury nullification.

Jury nullification alive and well

On June 18, 2012, N.H. Governor John Lynch signed into law HB146, which permits the defense in all criminal proceedings to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy.

While the law does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013, jurors’ inherent right to judge the law has been in existence for centuries and was recently used by a Belknap County, N.H. Superior Court jury to find Douglas Darrell (r), 59, not guilty of felony marijuana cultivation charges that could have sent him to prison for up to seven years.

Click through for the entire article.

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 25 Sep 2012

FIJA Director Iloilo Jones Comments on Article in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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FIJA director Iloilo Jones sent the following letter to Bruce Vielmetti of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with regard to his article discussing jury nullification. We posted a link to the original article here.

Dear Bruce,
Thank you for your recent article. However, as a former SNCC Field Secretary during the civil rights era, let me set the record straight:

At the time of the trials against whites for murders of black civil rights workers, government at all levels allowed those who chose jury members to exclude blacks from juries. Those same laws allowed voter registrants to exclude blacks from voting. Such was the climate in which we found ourselves during the 1960s in the South.

While it is easy for antagonists of juror veto or juror nullification—or, as it is sometimes called, juror rebellion—to cast a dark shadow on the practice of jurors who vote their conscience and to point an accusatory finger at jurors during the Civil Rights era, what is not disclosed is the underlying racism of the entire government system at the time.

Before we toss the baby out with the bath water, let us recall that it was legally impossible to seat a black juror, and therefore very difficult to find twelve Southern jurors who would defend the rights of the victim. Jurors were under the same pressure from government employees in the courtroom—judge, prosecutor, and most of the prosecutor’s witnesses. Had Southern blacks been allowed to serve on juries at that time—and had not all jurors been advised that they must, by law, check their conscience at the door—it is highly probable that the outcomes of those trials would have been different. Government-sponsored racism was the societal code of the time. Politicians were elected for their stances in favor of racist laws.

So, before we go blaming the human right to render a verdict according to conscience for the flaws in the larger system, let us reflect on the outcome of cases in which the jurors are carefully advised of their responsibility to render a verdict based on conscience, and to bring their minds and conscience with them into the jury box and the jury room. The FIJA.org site library has a variety of reading material on such cases. Jurors who consider the full extent of their actions in rendering a just verdict—a verdict which protects the defendant as well as the community—and consider, but know they are not bound to enforce laws which may be racist, venal, misapplied, or simply not relevant to the case before the jury, will carefully render a verdict that will bring not only justice, but, it is hoped, will restore safety, peace, and balance to the community.

To vilify juror independence and jury nullification because of flaws in the government-controlled composition of Civil Rights era juries, is to disregard all the good that comes from having jurors as the final veto of the People against silly, venal, or misapplied laws, often invoked by politically ambitious government prosecutors seeking to build a career or political base on the backs of those harmless people whom they prosecute.

The entire history of jury nullification, as far back as the Magna Carta, through the trial of William Penn, and up to present-day nullification cases when jurors act to protect their neighbors from the ambition and greed of government employees, is lit with the courageous, conscientious acts of jurors who clearly understood their role in protecting the human rights of others.

It is the right of the People to have a jury trial. It is also the right of the People that each juror fully understand their authority and responsibility—not to the government, but to justice. For justice is an enduring component of a free society, while we can all agree that government is often an oppressive force against human rights. Informed jurors can protect human rights with verdicts that defend against tyranny. Is it any wonder that government employees would rather we know know about our right to veto bad laws and prosecutions with our verdicts?

For Justice and Liberty for All,
Iloilo Marguerite Jones
Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA)

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FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 25 Sep 2012

Raw milk advocates hope jury nullification saves farmer

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Bruce Vielmetti of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discusses jury nullification and its use in cases where defendants are accused of various victimless violations related to raw milk.

Raw milk advocates hope jury nullification saves farmer

Supporters of a Wisconsin dairy farmer facing a criminal trial for selling raw milk hope they can turn up interest in jury nullification among residents of Sauk County who might be seated to hear his case.

As Rick Barrett reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Washington-based group defending the farmer thinks the approach can work. In fact, a Minnesota farmer was recently acquitted of similar charges there, mostly likely because of jury nullification.

While rare, nullification does come up in emotional cases like those involving anti-abortion activists, tax protesters and some drug cases — but also in any case where the jury can be persuaded that to follow the law would be an injustice.

There’s even a national organization devoted to the topic, the Fully Informed Jury Association. It believes juries should always be told, not just the law applicable to the case they’re considering, but also that they have the power and authority to follow their conscience.

According to the FIJA website, the primary purpose of the jury is “to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government.”

Click through for the entire article.

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 25 Sep 2012

Lawyers: ‘Nullify’ to be common refrain in criminal court cases

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Lawyers: ‘Nullify’ to be common refrain in criminal court cases

Criminal defense attorneys predict New Hampshire jurors routinely will be told they have the right to find someone innocent even if the state proves its case because New Hampshire has passed what appears to be the nation’s first “jury nullification” law.

Earlier this month, a Belknap County Superior Court jury found a Barnstead man innocent of felony drug charges after the judge instructed jurors they could decide that acquittal was “a fair result,” even if the state had met the burden of proof.

Chuck Temple is a professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where he is director of the criminal practice clinic. In his 27 years of practice, he said, he has always asked judges to instruct juries about nullification — but has never had a judge do so.

Temple said the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, “changes the landscape of how criminal cases will be argued.”

Before, he said, “in the vast majority of criminal cases, there would be no arguments regarding jury nullification. … Now, it’s going to be an everyday occurrence in criminal jury trials.”

Dick Marple, a former Republican representative from Hooksett, is the state contact for the Fully Informed Jury Association, which promotes jury nullification.

Marple said New Hampshire is the first state to pass such a statute, a step he sees as “restoring a little justice to the system.”

“Because the jury is the conscience of the community,” he said.

Click through for the entire article.

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FIJA in the News & Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 22 Sep 2012

FIJA Applauds Jury’s Acquittal of Alvin Schlangen in Raw Milk Case

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FIJA Applauds Jury’s Acquittal of Alvin Schlangen in Raw Milk Case

21 September 2012
Helena, MT
For Immediate Release

The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) applauds a Hennepin County jury for today’s acquittal of Minnesota farmer Alvin Schlangen of three misdemeanor charges related to raw milk distribution. Schlangen was charged with victimless offenses of selling unpasteurized milk, operating without a food license, and handling adulterated or misbranded food.

While he doesn’t produce milk himself, Schlangen picks up milk products from a farm and delivers them to members of the Freedom Farms Co-op. The co-op is a private club with approximately 130 members.

“Minnesota has long had highly visible FIJA Activists volunteering their time and efforts to educate every potential juror in Minnesota about the right of the people to veto bad laws through the use of the Juror Veto, or, as it is commonly called, Jury Nullification. As laws become more and more invasive, punitive, and draconian, prison populations become more and more peopled by harmless, productive people, who have harmed no other person. Jurors can stop the enforcement of bad laws. Jurors have stopped bad laws since freedom of religion was defended by jurors, and by later jurors who refused to enforce slavery. We, the owners of all government, retain the peaceful, lawful right to refuse to enforce bad laws made by some judge or politician. Courageous jurors have always stood firm—for the human rights of their families and neighbors—by refusing to sanction bad laws. The right of the People to drink the milk of their choice, and to feed their children healthy foods, is a human right.” said FIJA director Iloilo Jones.

“We have been following this case as well as the Vernon Hershberger raw milk case in Wisconsin. It is extremely encouraging that the jury in this case delivered justice to Mr. Schlangen by refusing to punish him for entirely peaceful actions which harmed nobody,” said FIJA outreach coordinator Kirsten Tynan.

FIJA is a non-profit association dedicated to educating the general public about their full rights, powers, and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts as trial jurors. The organization publishes and distributes educational literature and maintains a web site at FIJA.org to inform the general public of their Constitutional authority to protect human rights by refusing to enforce bad laws. FIJA encourages all jurors to consult their consciences when deliberating over a case, and to refuse to enforce any law that violates the human rights of the defendant.

Contact Information:
Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA)
P.O. Box 5570
Helena, MT 59604-5570
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

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Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 22 Sep 2012

Jury Clears Minnesota Farmer in Raw Milk Case

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A Minnesota jury has refused to convict farmer Alvin Schlangen of three victimless “crimes” related to raw milk distribution.

Minnesota Farmer Cleared in Milk Case

A soft-spoken Minnesota farmer was cleared of violating state laws for distributing raw milk Thursday, a verdict advocates for such foods called their first major legal victory.

After a three-day trial and more than four hours of deliberation, a Hennepin County jury found Alvin Schlangen not guilty of three misdemeanor counts of selling unpasteurized milk, operating without a food license and handling adulterated or misbranded food.

Schlangen, an organic egg farmer from Freeport, Minn., doesn’t produce milk himself but operates Freedom Farms Co-op, a private club with roughly 130 members who buy various farm products, including raw milk. Schlangen picks up the milk products from an Amish farm and delivers them to members.

He was charged in 2010 after Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) inspectors discovered his products at Traditional Foods, a south Minneapolis natural foods outlet. Under Minnesota law, milk that hasn’t been pasteurized (heat-treated to kill harmful bacteria) can be sold only in limited amounts on the farm where it’s produced. Schlangen, who testified on his own behalf, maintained that he was operating a private cooperative and not a business. He also noted that no one got sick from the milk he distributed.

Farmer Acquitted in Minn. Raw Milk Trial

A Minnesota man charged with violating the state’s restrictions on raw milk sales was acquitted Thursday in what he and his supporters called a victory for consumer freedom.

Alvin Schlangen, an organic egg producer from central Minnesota, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of distributing unpasteurized milk, operating without a food handler’s license and handling adulterated food. Minnesota law prohibits raw milk sales except directly to consumers on the farm when it’s produced.

The three-man, three-woman jury deliberated for about 4 ½ hours before returning not guilty verdicts on all three counts in Hennepin County District Court.

Schlangen, 54, said he was prepared for the decision to go either way “just because the system doesn’t let the jury realize they have the power to disregard a stupid law.”

We applaud the jury in this case for their conscientious deliberation and for delivering a just verdict for a peaceful individual.

Schlangen faces similar charges in another county in October. Vernon Hershberger will also go before a jury in the coming months in Wisconsin for charges related to raw milk distribution.

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Jury Nullification | 19 Sep 2012

Jury Clears NH Man of Felony Pot Charge

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Nearly a week after the fact, the New Hampshire Union Leader is finally reporting on last week’s jury nullification in Doug Darrell’s case:

Jury clears NH man of felony pot charge

A Belknap County Superior Court jury cleared a Barnstead resident of a felony drug charge last week, siding with a defense lawyer who encouraged the jury to nullify the verdict on the grounds that the marijuana use was part of his Rastafarian religion.

The decision on Thursday cleared Doug Darrell, 59, a piano tuner and woodworker, of manufacture of marijuana, a Class B felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 3 1/2 to seven years.

Under the principle of jury nullification, a jury can find a defendant innocent, even if prosecutors have proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Juror Cathleen Converse of Barnstead said several members of the jury were uncomfortable with the case.

“Mr. Darrell seemed to be the only victim here,” said Converse, a retiree who moved to New Hampshire in 2004 from South Carolina. “Almost everyone said this just shouldn’t have happened to these peaceful people.”

Click through for the entire article.

Yahoo! News has also posted the story from PR Web.
New Hampshire Jury Nullifies its First Felony Marijuana Case

We have documented earlier coverage of this case here and here.

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Jury Nullification | 18 Sep 2012

Farmer’s Raw Milk Sales Trial Is On Hold

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FIJA does not advocate for or against any particular case. We do, however, track cases to which the issue of jury nullification is relevant. This is an update in the case of Vernon Hershberger, an organic dairy farmer charged with multiple misdemeanors for alleged licensing offenses related to raw milk sales.

Farmer’s Raw Milk Sales Trial Is On Hold

The trial of a Sauk County dairy farmer accused of crimes stemming from the sale of raw milk has been postponed until January.

Previously scheduled to begin next week, Vernon Hershberger’s trial will be closely watched by raw-milk advocates who have argued for the right to buy unpasteurized dairy products straight from the farm.

Hershberger, an Amish farmer near Loganville, has become the poster child for a controversy that’s pitted farmers against state government and has boiled over to other states where raw milk sales are illegal or restricted.

The charges against Hershberger may hinge on whether jurors selected for his trial accept a strategy raised by the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

That organization, based in Falls Church, Va., has chosen to defend the Sauk County farmer and raise a thorny legal tactic called jury nullification.

“A question that has been raised about the trial is this: can the jury hearing the case legally engage in jury nullification and return a verdict of not guilty on the charges no matter what the facts and the law of the case are? The answer is ‘yes,'” wrote fund attorney Pete Kennedy.

That could be walking a fine legal line, however, as jury nullification is not popular with judges and prosecutors who believe a verdict should be based strictly on the facts and the law.

During a trial, lawyers aren’t even allowed to bring up the subject of jury nullification, said Dan Blinka, a law school professor at Marquette University.

But a jury will not be punished for voting its conscience, Blinka said.

“Usually this comes about when a jury believes that someone is going to be too harshly punished for what happened, or they have sympathy for the defendant,” he added.

Click through for the entire article.

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Jury Nullification | 18 Sep 2012

New Zealander’s Plea for Not Guilty Verdict Fails

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While jury nullification was recently exercised to deliver justice to a peaceful defendant in New Hampshire, jurors in New Zealand declined to use it to acquit a man charged with four victimless offenses.

Plea for Not Guilty Verdict Fails

Despite an impassioned plea from a Levin man facing drugs charges, it took a jury little more than two hours to find him guilty on all counts.

William Duffield McKee, known as Billy, was on trial in Palmerston North District Court this week facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the drug.

Representing himself, McKee made a plea to the jury to find him not guilty as a means of pushing for a law change.

Several times he was stopped by Judge Barbara Morris when he tried to talk about the benefits of medicinal cannabis use, with the judge reminding him he could talk only about the evidence.

Outside court, he told the Manawatu Standard he was disappointed with the outcome.

McKee said some laws had been changed through juries returning not guilty verdicts and he had hoped that would be the case in this trial.

“We wanted to have a jury trial because we were trying to make the jury aware of their rights of nullification, where if they think a law is unjust they’ve got a right and obligation to [acquit].”

Click through for the entire article. We remind everyone that the right to consult one’s conscience and the responsibility to deliver a just verdict when serving as a juror does not depend on being in a particular geographical location or legal jurisdiction.

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