Would-Be Jurors Stage 'Mutiny' in Marijuana Case
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Would-Be Jurors Stage 'Mutiny' in Marijuana Case
Posted by CN Staff on December 22, 2010 at 10:44:56 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Associated Press 
Montana -- Potential jurors staged a "mutiny" during a felony drug case, a Missoula County prosecutor says, and authorities worry the result will be viewed as a game-changer when it comes to future attempts at prosecuting drug cases in Montana. Nearly all 27 Missoula County residents during the jury selection process on Thursday told District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps there was no way they would convict anybody of having a couple of buds of marijuana.
"I thought, 'Geez, I don't know if we can seat a jury,'" said Deschamps, who called a recess. The case involved Touray Cornell, whose criminal history includes numerous felony convictions and in his latest case faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. That charge stemmed from an April 23 search of his home following complaints from neighbors he was selling drugs. Police said they found burnt marijuana cigarettes, a pipe and some residue. An affidavit said Cornell admitted to distributing small amounts of marijuana and connecting other dealers with customers, getting small amounts of marijuana for himself as payment. At the time of his arrest Cornell was out on bail on a charge of felony conspiracy to commit theft, of which he was convicted in August. During the recess called by Deschamps on Thursday, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul worked out a plea agreement with the defense. "A mutiny," Paul told the Missoulian in describing the actions of the potential jurors. "Bizarre," said Cornell's defense attorney, Martin Elison. In the plea memorandum filed by Elison, he noted that public opinion "is not supportive of the state's marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances." On Friday, Cornell entered an Alford plea, meaning he does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict him. Deschamps then sentenced him to 20 years in prison with 19 suspended, to be served concurrently with his sentence in the theft case. Cornell was given credit for the 200 days he's already served. "I'm not convinced in any way that you don't present an ongoing threat to the community," Deschamps told Cornell during the sentencing, calling him an "eight-time loser" in a reference to the number of Cornell's previous felonies. The potential jurors in the case ranged in ages from 20s to 60s, with one of the most vocal in her 60s. "It's kind of a reflection of society as a whole on the issue," said Deschamps. Missoula County voters in 2006 approved an initiative requiring law enforcement to treat marijuana crimes as their lowest priority. In 2004, Montana voters legalized medical marijuana by initiative. "I think it's going to become increasingly difficult to seat a jury in marijuana cases, at least the ones involving a small amount," Deschamps said. Information from: Missoulian, Newshawk: JiMorrison Source: Associated Press (Wire)Published: December 21, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Associated PressCannabisNews  Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on December 24, 2010 at 05:14:40 PT
"...Jurors Stage 'Mutiny"
They were sprinkled with some majical C/News dust!It's addictive!
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Comment #2 posted by paulpeterson on December 22, 2010 at 16:31:10 PT:
Get this to your newspaper-THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
I've been saying for years that change occurs in three steps:
1) a legal "fiction", here, similar to a "jury nullification" verdict, however this is slightly different-STILL A FICTION, though and a good first step2) the fiction (usually a court decision, here, a failure to field a jury) gets CITED as "PRECEDENT", not a legal precedent, but still, a prosecutor will CITE this as evidence he should not even SEEK charges, police likewise will STOP BUSTING, get it?3) the legislature "CODIFIES" the fiction, now a precedent, into law-CURIOUSLY, this "fiction" happened BECAUSE VOTERS VOTED FOR LOWEST PRIORITY, AND MEDICAL MARIJUANA, get it?-Here, expect the legislature to codify (in about 5 years) the fiction, as a total legalization move, wiping mere possession crimes off the books.ANY WAY YOU LOOK AT IT, GET THIS TO YOUR LOCAL, NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSPAPERS FAST.ANY WAY YOU LOOK AT IT, THIS IS HOW THE WORLD CHANGES, AND IT JUST CHANGED, BIG TIME.So if you want this to happen in a court system near you, you must SPREAD THE WORD, that is an order, sirs.Over and out, and thanks for listening, capish?PAUL PETERSON 712-732-1009 Storm Lake, Iowa
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Comment #1 posted by duzt on December 22, 2010 at 12:45:04 PT
This is the best way to beat the system, jury nullification or not seating a jury. People are sick of our current laws, and they affect us, so we should decide if they are just or not.
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