What Jury Nullification Means For The War On Drugs
It's important for everyone involved in the War On Drugs to know about Jury Nullification. Ever watch one of those ‘law and order’ TV shows where attorneys and judges discuss what evidence the jury will be allowed to see? Decisions are made to present incomplete sets of facts. This practice of culling through evidence, selecting which “facts” to present to juries distorts the search for truth and justice.
When jurors aren’t allowed to consider or even hear mention of all the evidence, including prejudice, possible sentences, or mitigating circumstances, verdicts tend to slant in favor of the prosecution. Fairness, transparency, morality and constitutional due process are thwarted.
Being on a jury is a daunting responsibility, yet court and personal schedules create pressure to reach consensus and finish jury duty as soon as possible.
But consider this: jurors have not only the right, but the responsibility and the power, to judge the law and the evidence and vote their conscience. In contrast to today’s perceptions, our Founders intended juries to determine “law and equity” — not merely of the accursed guilt or innocence, but of the law itself.
What if jurors who vote their conscience are in direct opposition to the judge’s instructions, the law or both? May a jury find a defendant not guilty even when evidence shows that a law has been broken?
The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ The Sixth Amendment guarantees trial by a jury of one’s peers, and other Constitutional provisions also grant American juries the absolute right to find the accused not guilty for any reason, or none at all.
This ultimate power of juries is “jury nullification,” so-called because the verdict nullifies the consequences of the law’s provisions. Historical examples include refusals by Northern jurors to convict people who violated fugitive-slave laws. We should examine federal drug laws, particularly concerning medical cannabis. Hemp is a useful, complex, aromatic, herbaceous, flowering plant with numerous medicinal and industrial uses. The science is indisputable, and our laws fly in the face of truth. When facts are withheld from jurors, the result is a system that metes out criminal injustices to our people.
This is why the right of jury nullification is important. Prohibition has shattered our country. America has the highest prison population in the world. Some 60% of all inmates are nonviolent drug offenders. It’s within a jury’s singular power to change that.
Judges don’t tell jurors about this right. Defense attorneys may not mention it in court. Those who ask are often told there is no such thing. But there is.
Jury nullification is a foundation stone of democracy. Jurors have a duty to prevent government oppression and provide a check on official powers. Jurors should not feel intimidated. They cannot be punished for voting to acquit. They must exercise their power, rights, and moral duty to vote their conscience. You cal learn more at FIJA.org