On the Great Montana Marijuana Mutiny
This has to be the most extreme example of jury nullification we’ve ever heard of. More like not-yet-a-jury nullification.
Let us explain.
Last week, prosecutors in Missoula, Mont., attempted to seat a jury for a criminal trial involving a man who was caught with a small amount of marijuana.
But the jury wouldn’t, well, sit. According to this story in the Missoulian, juror after jury made it clear they wouldn’t convict someone over a “couple buds” of pot.
“No, they said, one after the other,” wrote Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio. “No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.”
District Judge Dusty Deschamps surveyed the jury pool and concluded that a jury might be hard to seat.
So he called a recess, during which time the prosecutor and defense attorney worked out a deal.
The defendant, Touray Cornell, wound up entering an Alford plea, in which he didn’t admit guilt.
The plea memorandum filed by his attorney states: “Public opinion, as revealed by the reaction of a substantial portion of the members of the jury called to try the charges on Dec. 16, 2010, 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.”
“Bizarre,” the defense attorney called it.
In his nearly 30 years as a prosecutor and judge, Deschamps said he’s never seen anything like it.
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