cannabisnews.com: Empowered Juries, Weakened Democracy 





Empowered Juries, Weakened Democracy 
Posted by CN Staff on October 11, 2002 at 23:16:21 PT
By Steve Chapman, Creators Syndicate
Source: Washington Times 
Someone once said that the best thing to do with bad laws is to enforce them vigorously  thus exposing their flaws and speeding their repeal. But South Dakotans are pondering another possibility. On their November ballot is a measure that would try to remedy bad laws by encouraging juries to chuck them out the window. That may not sound like a bad idea. South Dakota is just one of many states with draconian drug laws that make criminals out of sick people who smoke marijuana to treat their symptoms.
Recently a quadriplegic named Matthew Ducheneaux was prosecuted for possession of the drug, which he says he needs to ease muscle spasms. A jury convicted him  even though, by his lawyer's account, "All of them conclusively said afterward that they didn't want to find him guilty."   Supporters of Amendment A, as it is known, say his case is exactly the type in which a jury should be free to decide that even if he broke the law, it's a stupid law that deserves to be ignored. They'd like to see this option, known as jury nullification, adopted not only in South Dakota but everywhere.   Advocates could do more to publicize that the measure would let juries effectively suspend not only bad laws but good laws, and not just in rare cases but in common ones. Prosecutors say it could be invoked in up to half of all criminal trials  and might offer a refuge not only for those defendants charged with "victimless" offenses like drug use and prostitution but also domestic abuse, drunk driving and statutory rape.   As the puckish legal scholar Herbert Wexler once put it in reference to jury nullification, "What's sauce for the goose depends on whose ox is being gored." If you allow juries to acquit pot-smoking invalids, you have to let them give a pass to husbands who slap the missus around or good old boys who fail roadside sobriety tests. Good laws and bad laws alike can be overridden.   Supporters of jury nullification say the measure would merely tell juries about a right they already have. As Texas attorney Clay Conrad puts it in his book on the subject, withholding this information "is like trying to keep teenagers from finding out about sex: If they do not learn about it from a responsible source, they are likely to learn about it on the streets." Under Amendment A, defendants would be allowed to acknowledge technical guilt while arguing that the law they broke shouldn't be applied to them. And juries could then proceed to toss it aside.   It's true that juries already have the freedom to acquit even if the defendant is indisputably guilty. That verdict is final, and they may not be punished for it. But they also have the option of convicting a defendant whom they know is innocent. The fact that juries may freely abuse their power is no reason to invite them to do so.   This option is supposed to serve as a check on the decisions of police and prosecutors. It would also restrain the power of legislatures, which may pass laws without giving sufficient attention to the damage they may inflict on harmless individuals. The jury, in the view of Amendment A supporters, ought to be free to express the will of the community when exercising its judgment. As Mr. Conrad puts it, the nullification power "exists to prevent oppression by the government, allowing private citizens to veto government overreaching."   But private citizens can already veto government overreaching  a process known as elections. We can vote out lawmakers who pass bills that authorize government overreaching. We have elections to assure that the government's laws and policies reflect as accurately as possible the preferences of the people.   There is no reason to think juries are more representative of community sentiment than legislatures. Juries may just as easily reflect minority views. If South Dakotans think medical need should be a defense for marijuana possession, they can demand that the legislature pass a law to that effect.   Juries are an important part of our system of law and justice. But they are also the only part that is totally unaccountable to the people. If legislators vote for bad laws, their constituents can vote them out. Likewise with prosecutors who bring unwarranted indictments. Police answer to their superiors, who answer to elected officials. But juries answer to no one. They can abuse their powers by spurning the will of the people, and the people have no recourse.   For a jury to overrule a law passed by an elected legislature is not a triumph for democracy, as supporters of Amendment A insist. It's the opposite of democracy.Source: Washington Times (DC)Author: Steve Chapman, Creators SyndicatePublished:  October 12, 2002Copyright: 2002 News World Communications, Inc. Website: http://www.washtimes.com/Contact: letters washingtontimes.comRelated Articles & Web Sites:FIJAhttp://www.fija.org/South Dakota NORMLhttp://www.sodaknorml.orgSouth Dakota to Vote on Extending Jury Rights http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread14200.shtmlBallot Measure Would Put Laws On Trial http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread14124.shtmlS.D. Ballot Initiative Puts State's Laws on Trial http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread13902.shtml 
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Comment #8 posted by VitaminT on October 12, 2002 at 17:19:00 PT
idbsne1
I don't think all the names you mentioned are on the below referenced page but you'll see - it's a good start!
Quotes from FIJA's website
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Comment #7 posted by idbsne1 on October 12, 2002 at 16:25:42 PT
Someone please send him quotes....
from our forefathers who designed the Constituion. I KNOW I have read quotes from the likes of Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, etc. that have SPECIFICALLY addressed jury nullification as a purposefully designed seperation of powers, such that the PEOPLE have the FINAL say.Sorry, I do not have them... does someone know where I can find them?idbsne1
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Comment #6 posted by p4me on October 12, 2002 at 06:12:59 PT
Comment2 should have badmouthed the Times also
In comment2 early this morning, I should have badmouthed the Washington Times since it is their article. I guess I was set to go off on the Washington Post since it is a propaganda machine of the first order. Where is the Times Article on jury nullification? Aren't they a newspaper that is supposed to inform their readers? It is kind of hard to do when you avoid certain subjects like MMJ even when it is an issue burning in the minds (and bodies) of the citizens of Warshington. If I were asked what tee shirt would do the most to change America, I would say the subject would have to be jury nullification. I doubt they would even let a person in the courthouse for a trial that wore a tee shirt with the words jury nullification on it. I know if I were looking at prison time over something relating to cannabis I would want to wear a tee shirt that said jury nullification on it. Of course that is probably a mandatory sentence in itself the way the Fascist have twisted the laws that can get you several hundred years in prison for growing one plant and some rolling papers and a gun that is otherwise legal.Jury nullification tee shirts should be selling well in California and everywhere else for that matter. People that wear them and can explain the people's rights are doing the people's cause a great service.DAD-D,1,2
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Comment #5 posted by VitaminT on October 12, 2002 at 00:48:45 PT
Weakened Democracy?
Or A Democracy more OF and BY the people than the Government is comfortable with - a more, frightening democracy?A fearsome thing indeed.
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Comment #4 posted by DdC on October 12, 2002 at 00:37:03 PT
Sorry, Looks like Ed Forchion's linx are WoD bait.
The History of Jury Nullification! --International Society for Individual LibertyJury Nullification: The "Top Secret Right" - NJ Historic Jury Nullification Trial State of New Jersey -vs- Forchion (3596-10-98)Ed Forchion's/Legalize Marijuana Party WebsiteA candidate inhales  Philadelphia Daily NewsIs marijuana law in U.S. wrong? Let a jury decide  The Philadelphia Inquirer 
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Comment #3 posted by DdC on October 12, 2002 at 00:12:55 PT
Steve Chapman Thinks Juries Are Too Stupid?...
In a civilised society, it is the duty of all citizens to obey just laws. But at the same time it is the duty of all citizens to disobey unjust laws." - Martin Luther King Jr.Date:Thu, 10 Oct 2002 14:33:21 -0600From:"Bob Newland" newland rapidcity.com Subject:Brenner to debate Newland on "A" (SoDak)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEPennington County (SD) States Attorney Glenn Brenner will debate Amendment "A" sponsor Bob Newland Wednesday night. "A" spokesman Larry Dodge will take on So. Dak. Trial Lawyers Assn. President Brad Schreiber in the second of two debates on Oct. 16 at the School of Mines in Rapid City.POSTED BY BOB NEWLAND
http://www.CommonSenseJustice.UsThe College Republicans and College Democrats, student organizations at the So. Dak. School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City (SD), have organized an informational debate over the merits of proposed Constitutional Amendment "A", which voters will decide to accept or reject at November 5's general election.According to handbills being posted on the SDSMT campus and around the Black Hills, there will be two consecutive debates, with a different proponent and opponent squaring off in each confrontation.Beginning at 7 pm in the Surbeck Ballroom, at the Student Center on SDSMT's campus in Rapid City, moderator Rex Hagg will introduce the debaters. Hagg is a former Speaker of the So. Dak. House of Representatives, and practices law in Rapid City.The Proposition, which the debaters will defend or oppose, is: "Amendment 'A' will improve the criminal justice system."In the first debate, Amendment "A"'s sponsor, Bob Newland, 54, of Hermosa (SD), will lead off with the Proponents' argument that "A" will improve the justice system. For the next hour, Glenn Brenner and Newland will debate "A".In the second debate, Larry Dodge, 57, Rapid City, will debate Brad Schreiber, a Belle Fourche Attorney. Dodge has campaigned for "A" at numerous events across the state this past summer. Schreiber will oppose "A" from a defense attorney's point of view.Newland said, "Proponents and Opponents of 'A' have traded barbs in the press for three years now. This face-to-face debate will provide an exciting, entertaining and informative evening. I think that anyone who comes to the debate will hear just about every possible virtue of and objection to Amendment 'A'."The debate is open to the public. For more information on Proposed Amendment A, see http://www.CommonSenseJustice.UsINFORMATION ON AMENDMENT AAmendment "A" proposes to add the words, "and to argue the merits, validity and applicability of the law, including the sentencing laws" to the current language of Article 6, Section 7, of the So. Dak. Constitution. Here is the current language of Article 6:"In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to defend in person and by counsel; to demand the nature and the cause of the accusation against him; to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses against him face to face; to have compulsory process served for obtaining witnesses in his behalf; and to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county and district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed."Here is how Article 6 will read upon passage of Amendment "A":"In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to defend in person and by counsel; to demand the nature and the cause of the accusation against him; to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses against him face to face; to have compulsory process served for obtaining witnesses in his behalf; to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county and district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed; and to argue the merits, validity and applicability of the law, including the sentencing laws."How FIJA Saved My Life!
http://serendipity.magnet.ch/jsmill/fija1293.htm
http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4055.shtmlOur American Common Law
http://www.svpvril.com/OACL.html"We the People are the rightful master of both congress and the courts - not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
Abraham LincolnQUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT COMMON LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
http://www.f-f-a.com/comlaw.htmCommon Law and Uncommon Courts
http://www.militia-watchdog.org/common.htmMy Council
http://www.mycounsel.com/The Common Law Court of the United States of America
http://www.civil-liberties.com/commonlaw/common.htmlIsomorphism and the Common Law
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/col/1997/3/2.htmlThe Common Law and other Historical Documents
http://www.pixi.com/~kingdom/common.htmlCommon Law 1
http://www.detaxcanada.org/cmlaw1.htmCommon Law Claims by State
http://www.getyers.com/common.htmDictionary of Law 1893
http://ecclesia.org/lawgiver/defs.aspJust heard this commercial on kpig radio
Med MJ referral
1-877-72-legalErowid Freedom Vault : Jury Nullification
http://www.erowid.org/freedom/jury_nullification/jury_nullification.shtmlTrial by jury  Cato Institute 
http://www.cato.org/dailys/12-09-98.htmlThe History of Jury Nullification! --International Society for Individual Liberty 
http://www.jersey.net/~njdevil/history_of_jurynullification.htmJury Nullification: The "Top Secret Right" - http://www.jersey.net/~njdevil/top_secret_right.htmlIn Jury Rooms, Form of Civil Protest Grows  Washington Post 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/jury080299.htmAlso: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99.n472.a03.html NJ Historic Jury Nullification Trial 
State of New Jersey -vs- Forchion (3596-10-98) Ed Forchion's/Legalize Marijuana Party Website 
http://www.jersey.net/~njdevil/Do Rastafarian's-have the right to use marijuana? - 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 
http://www.ndsn.org/MARCH96/9THCIRC.htmlA candidate inhales  Philadelphia Daily News 
http://www.jersey.net/~njdevil/candidate_inhales.htmIs marijuana law in U.S. wrong? Let a jury decide  The Philadelphia Inquirer 
http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/99/Jul/12/sj/JCOL12.htmTHE POLICE STATE COMETH by Rep.Ron Paul 
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec97/cr062597b.htmProtesting Bad Laws
http://www.cannabinoid.com/wwwboard/politics/binaries/27/27185.gifLike D.E.A.th, Lawyers can't make money "NOT" persecuting and defending...Both BAR employees. Judges witholding evidence with 95% of cannabis cases plea bargained. Eliminating the chance of a jury of ones peers aquitting. Manmin sentencing, 3 strikes, no knock searches, warrentless searches, secret searches, no probable cause searches, forced urine testing, censorship, no right to assemble, forced treatment. With all of these "bennies" for D.E.A.th to keep the war alive and citizens caged. Seems the lawyers objections are more for their well being than the citizens....Peace, Love and Liberty or D.E.A.th Propaganda!...DdCD.E.A.th Deceptions
http://www.angelfire.com/ca7/ddc/DEAth.htmlU.S.Al Qaeda!
http://www.cannabinoid.com/boards/politics/media/39/39670.gifThugczar Wally
http://www.cannabinoid.com/boards/politics/media/35/35838.gifMAKING THE WALLS TRANSPARENT
http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/starkeDeception is no way to wage a drug war
http://www.n-jcenter.com/2002/Sep/26/OPN2.htm Constitutional Patriots Opposing Prohibition
Http://www.cpop.orgGreenpanthers  http://www.greenpanthers.orgNot One Tear Forgotten
http://www.letfreedomgrow.com/articles/not_one_tear_forgotten.htm
           
http://www.letfreedomgrow.com
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Comment #2 posted by p4me on October 12, 2002 at 00:04:30 PT
Tyranny is the opposite of democracy
For a jury to overrule a law passed by an elected legislature is not a triumph for democracy, as supporters of Amendment A insist. It's the opposite of democracy.Look, the people that chose the voter iniative route are trying to fix a big problem. I was 47 years old before I ever heard the term jury nullification. The media never mentions it until they have to because they want to defeat it in a ballot iniative. If it doesn't do anything else it gets the Washington Post that licks the boots of the administration to bring up a subject that makes democracy look bad and the journalist of the Washington Post and every other newspaper derilect in their journalistic duties to democracy and the people.And if the paper were really trying to inform its readers instead of brainwashing them more, they would have put up the website for FIJA: http://www.fija.org/ But the Washington Post is all about brainwashing and informing is not important. If informing was important they would explain that people are not allowed to raise the issue at a trial to inform the jury of jury nullification and the sternness with which judges say convict the way we have the laws twisted. This is just another sorry job of journalism from the propaganda machine known as the Washington Post.DAD-D,1,2
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on October 11, 2002 at 23:56:47 PT:
Veto government overreaching. I "demand" it.
But private citizens can already veto government overreaching  a process known as elections. We can vote out lawmakers who pass bills that authorize government overreaching. We have elections to assure that the government's laws and policies reflect as accurately as possible the preferences of the people.The whole federal government ban on medical marijuana is unconstitutional. The right to regulate medical practice is reserved to the states. The right to regulate medical practice is not granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution. Only alcohol prohibition was based on the Constitution through a Constitutional Amendment. How do we vote out this overreaching when both the Republicans and the Democrats maintain this illegal usurpation of medical states rights?If South Dakotans think medical need should be a defense for marijuana possession, they can demand that the legislature pass a law to that effect.This is rich. California tried this, and WAMM the DEA attacked. Demand? Where do we do that? Petitions? Initiatives? Voter's booth? Debates? Protest marches? Sit-ins? Court?If legislators vote for bad laws, their constituents can vote them out. This is a good idea. I cannot wait.
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