This is jury nullification in action, and as a result, a Montana judge has refused to convict anyone of marijuana possession.
In Montana, Teuray Cornell was arrested on a marijuana possession charge. But he only had about as much marijuana as it would take to roll a single joint. The police tried to suggest that he was a marijuana dealer – even with this small amount of the plant.
Montana is well-known to be a fairly conservative state, but when it came time for the pre-trial jury screening of this man, the judge simply could not find people willing to convict the man.
The judge could not find one single person who was willing to convict a man over a small amount of marijuana.
The New York Times reports:
To seat a 12-person jury, Judge Robert L. Deschamps III of Missoula County District Court had called a passel of Montanans to serve, and 27 had arrived at court on Dec. 16. So far, so good.
But after the charges were read, one of the jurors raised a hand.
“She said, ‘I’ve got a real problem with these marijuana cases,’ ” Judge Deschamps recalled on Wednesday. “And after she got through, a couple more raised their hands.” All told, five jurors raised questions about marijuana prosecution.
Mr. Cornell the misdemeanor possession charge was dismissed out of fear that 12 jurors who would convict in this marijuana-friendly state, could simply not be found.
John Masterson, the founder and director of the Montana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told the Times that using marijuana “is essentially a mainstream activity” in Missoula.
“It’s something that people of all walks of life enjoy responsibly,” Masterson explained.
“This was something I’d never encountered before,” Judge Deschamps said. “It does raise a question about the next case,” indicating to the Times that he would not convict people of similar charges in the future.
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(Article by M. David)