Fully Informed Jury Association

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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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FIJA in the News & Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 18 Sep 2012

New Hampshire Jury Nullifies Felony Marijuana Case

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It’s interesting how widely ignored last week’s New Hampshire jury nullification has been in the mainstream media so far. However, we have found several more mentions of it in various news sources on the web. We will continue to post links to coverage of this case as we come across them.

New Hampshire Jury Nullifies its First Felony Marijuana Case, PR Web
EXCLUSIVE: Juror in Cannabis Nullification Case Speaks Out!, Free Keene
Jury Nullifies Felony in Cannabis Grower’s Trial!, Free Keene
Doug Darrell Acquitted Of Marijuana Charges Through Jury Nullification In New Hampshire, The Huffington Post
New Hampshire Jury Nullifies Felony Marijuana Case, Opposing Views
Should Religious or Medicinal Marijuana Users Be Prosecuted?, Bedford Patch
Jury Nullifies Evidence Against Barnstead Pot Grower, The Laconia Daily Sun

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Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 14 Sep 2012

New Hampshire Jury Acquits Pot-Growing Rastafarian

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Jacob Sullum of Reason.com reports on a notable case of jury nullification yesterday in New Hampshire:

New Hampshire Jury Acquits Pot-Growing Rastafarian

A jury unanimously acquitted Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian charged with marijuana cultivation, after his lawyer, Mark Sisti, argued that a conviction would be unjust in light of the fact that Darrell was growing cannabis for his own religious and medicinal use. More remarkably, Judge James O’Neill instructed the jury that “even if you find that the State has proven each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find the defendant not guilty if you have a conscientious feeling that a not guilty verdict would be a fair result in this case.”

That is New Hampshire’s model jury instruction on the nullification issue, but each judge has discretion whether to give it.

The jury, which deliberated for six hours on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, twice asked to hear the instruction again. Sisti, who has been practicing law for 33 years, says this is the first time he has persuaded a judge to tell jurors they have the power to vote their consciences. He hopes the new law will make such instructions more common, if not standard.

Defendant Doug Darrell’s case involved no victim. In spite of being offered a way out with no jail time or fine, he insisted on taking his case before a jury, even at the risk of significant time in prison:

The Belknap County Attorney’s Office, evidently eager to get rid of a case that involved just 15 plants and no distribution, offered Darrell a series of increasingly lenient plea deals, culminating in an offer that entailed a misdemeanor guilty plea with no jail time or fine. Darrell turned all the offers down, Sisti said, because “he didn’t think he was guilty of anything; it’s a sacrament in his religion.” Instead he went to trial on a charge of manufacturing a controlled drug, a Class B felony that carries a penalty of three and a half to seven years in prison. Darrell’s first trial ended in a mistrial last November due to prosecutorial error. His second trial ended in yesterday’s acquittal.

Click through for the entire article.

We applaud and thank both Mr. Darrell for his courage in insisting on a jury trial rather than taking a plea deal and his jurors for returning a just verdict in this case.

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Jury Rights Day | 12 Sep 2012

Food Freedom USA Celebrates Jury Rights Day

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Food Freedom USA featured an extensive article on Jury Rights Day on its website, including a variety of quotes and videos. The organization also featured on its home page FIJA’s Jury Rights Day web banner and a link back to our site.

9-5 Jury Rights Day

Today is Jury Rights Day in America, educate a friend about their rights and how to invoke those powers.

Click through for the entire article.

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Volunteer | 07 Sep 2012

Call for Volunteers for Constitution Day (12 Sept) in Birmingham, AL

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Are you in or near Birmingham, Alabama? FIJA is looking for volunteers to share FIJA literature on the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus on Wednesday, 12 September for Constitution Day. If you would like to volunteer that day, please e-mail us at aji@fija.org or give us a call in the office at (406) 442-7800.

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FIJA Calendar & Jury Nullification | 06 Sep 2012

A Fully Informed Jury – What the Judge Doesn’t Tell You

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The Libertarian Party of West Michigan presents
A Fully Informed Jury – What the Judge Doesn’t Tell You

September 11, 2012
7 – 9:30 PM

Grand Valley State University
Eberhard Conference Center 2nd floor
301 Fulton St W
Grand Rapids, MI

Attendees of this event can park for free at GVSU lot # 15, just south of the Eberhard Center Grand Valley State University Pew Campus. Anyone with a disability who needs a special accommodation to attend this program must contact Andrew Hall at 616-443-2409 at least 72 hours in advance of this event.

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Interviews & Jury Rights Day | 06 Sep 2012

FIJA on HempRock Radio Today Celebrating Jury Rights Day

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HempRock Radio will celebrate Jury Rights Day today! Kirsten Tynan will be on at 5:00 pm Eastern discussing jury nullification. HempRock Radio airs in the Cincinnati, OH area at 95.7 FM or you can listen live from anywhere online at WVQC Radio Free Queen City.

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Jury Rights Day | 05 Sep 2012

Maui County Citizens for Democracy in Action Celebrates Jury Rights Day

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Maui County Citizens for Democracy in Action celebrates Jury Rights Day with this short 3 minute video. Please share it with your family, friends, and neighbors!

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Jury Rights Day | 05 Sep 2012

New Hampshire Governor Proclaims September 5 Jury Appreciation Day

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Many thanks to FIJA activist and state contact Dick Marple for providing us with this Jury Appreciation Day proclamation signed by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch!

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Jury Rights Day | 02 Sep 2012

New Hampshire Governor Lynch and Jury Nullification

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NEWS RELEASE – from http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?read=251292

Governor Lynch has, for several years, recognized the Honor due all citizens who have served as jurors, by his Proclamation celebrating September 5, 2012 as “Jury Appreciation Day”.

This annual national event commemorates the trial of William Penn. His jurors refused to convict him even though he had violated the government statute by preaching a religion not approved by the state. The judge imprisoned the jurors and they suffered deprivation of food and water, as inhumane coercion was inflicted by the judge. The jurors stood firm and refused to convict Mr. Penn until a higher court subsequently ruled that the jurors could not be prosecuted for their verdict, and the principle of “Jury Nullification” became firmly established in law.

On June 18, 2012 Governor Lynch signed HB 146 legislation which placed the “Fully Informed Jury” into statute as “Chapter 0243 Effective 01/01/2013.” We invite all to join with us in celebrating September 5, 2012 as Jury Rights Day in the “Live Free or Die” State.

The need for jurors to be fully informed is self evident, as jurors are the conscience of the community and hold such nullifying power by authority enumerated in Article Eight, New Hampshire “Bill of Rights”, wherein “All Power” is reserved to the people to nullify the acts of overzealous prosecutors, judges, and legislators.

New Hampshire now has the celebrity of being the first state in the union to enjoy such legislation. More information may be viewed at http://www.fija.org or you may dial 1-800-TEL-JURY and ask for information to be sent to you free by mail.

Submitted by:
Dick Marple
FIJA Representative for New Hampshire
11 Dartmouth Street
Hooksett, New Hampshire Republic
603-627-1837

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 21 Aug 2012

Seattle Weekly Comment of the Day: Vote to Acquit!

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A comment left on another article is featured today as Seattle Weekly’s Comment of the Day. The subject? Jury nullification!

Comment of the Day: Vote to Acquit!

If you sincerely believe that prohibition is a dangerous and counter-productive policy, then you must stop helping to enforce it. You are entitled to act according to your conscience: Acquit the defendant/s if you feel that true justice requires such a result. You, the juror, have the very last word!

* It only takes one juror to prevent a guilty verdict.

* You are not lawfully required to disclose your voting intention before taking your seat on a jury.

* You are also not required to give a reason to the other jurors on your position when voting. Simply state that you find the accused not guilty!

* Jurors must understand that it is their opinion, their vote. If the Judge and the other jurors disapprove, too bad. There is no punishment for having a dissenting opinion.

We must create what we can no longer afford to wait for: PLEASE VOTE TO ACQUIT!

Click through for the entire comment.

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Jury Rights Day | 16 Aug 2012

Jury Rights Day Opportunity- Public Service Announcements

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More free stuff for Jury Rights Day outreach, plus a chance to win free stuff for you!

Are you unable to get out in your community to d outreach on or around Jury Rights Day? Still want to participate? We have a quick, easy, and FREE opportunity for you- Public Service Announcements.

We have brief PSA text scripts as well as audio and video PSAs available that you can submit to local media outlets, or include in your own podcasts or videos. They can all be downloaded here: http://fija.org/document-library/public-service-announcements/

I especially encourage you to check out the text PSAs, which we just added this week and which has a special Jury Rights Day PSA. Text is the format in which a lot of community and public radio stations want public service announcements submitted. Rather than running pre-recorded announcements, their on-air staff read them during breaks in regular programming.

At the top of the Text PSAs page, I’ve included a quick 3-step process I’ve used to submit the Jury Rights Day PSA to both KGLT community radio (serving Bozeman and Helena, Montana) and KUFM (Montana Public Radio). Basically, you find the radio station’s website, look for a page on which to submit a PSA, and then submit a short form into which you copy and paste the PSA text.

If you submit jury nullification PSAs to any radio stations, please comment here, send us a message, or e-mail kirsten@fija.org. We may include an article on our website or in our newsletter about this outreach effort so we’d like to find out where PSAs have been submitted and give credit to those who did so.

ADDED BONUS: If you let us know which PSA(s) you submitted to which media outlet(s), I will include you in a drawing for one of our vintage T-shirt designs (M, L, XL) OR a 10-pack of our bumper stickers including the popular NO VICTIM, NO CRIME sticker! I need to hear from you by comment, by Facebook message, or by e-mail to kirsten@fija.org on or before 31 August for you to be included in the drawing.

Let’s get the word out in our communities with these PSAs!

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FIJActivist & Volunteer | 15 Aug 2012

Volunteers Needed for Paulfest in Tampa, Florida

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Are you attending Paulfest in Tampa, Florida, 24-26 August? FIJA is looking for volunteers to help host an outreach table. We will provide all the materials. You will just be there to hand them out and discuss jury nullification with people. If would like to help out for a few hours during Paulfest, please contact us in the office at (406) 442-7800 or e-mail kirsten@fija.org.

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