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Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification?

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification? by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Drug War is a total failure. What started out and continues as a way to target minorities for discriminatory police attention has become one of the biggest domestic and foreign policy failures in our history. One set of beneficiaries of this domestic and foreign “war” are the police officers, the prosecutors and the judges who are paid drug-war-subsidized salaries. The only other beneficiaries are the cartels and gangs that were formed to take full advantage of this controlled, high value market. The gun-toting gangs and the shootings on our streets are the bloody pay-off we get along with the tax bill we pay to support this deadly boondoggle. We continue to pay for years for each conviction, resulting in the largest per-capita prison population on the planet. Don’t you just love getting so much value for your hard earned tax dollars?

When legislators pass bad criminal laws and police, prosecutors and judges continue the charade by enforcing the bad law via the criminal justice system, the public has few options to stop the ongoing tragedy.

The root of the problem is bad law; so going after the law makers is one route to take. But this is very slow and subject to the usual political BS. Washington and Colorado have recently passed laws legalizing limited pot sales, possession and use. The Feds will probably try to coerce the states to counter the voters’ will. We do not have to sit still for that.

There is a tool we have as citizens that is little known and seldom invoked that might break the back of the Drug War. It’s not a total solution; and it has some potential negative side-effects to consider. But it might speed up the process of converting the “war” into the medical/mental health issue it actually is.

[At this point I feel the need to state that I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I am a citizen and voter and have a right to speak out. The law belongs to the people, not the lawyers.]

What I propose is a minor rebellion. What if no court of law, federal, state or local, could get a jury to convict a person technically (under Federal law) guilty of limited drug sales, possession or use in the States of Washington and Colorado? What if this rebellion spread across all 50 States? See my earlier post on jury nullification and think about it.

Of course, the legislators who pass irrational, illogical, unenforceable laws and the police, prosecutors and judges who get paid to enforce these laws don’t want the public to be fully informed about such a subversive concept. So get informed and spread the word. If we can cripple the courts on these cases and, at the same time, pressure the law makers to eliminate the laws and funding underlying the war, we can have success in years, rather than generations.

What do you think?

 

 

Prosecutorial Intimidation Subverts Criminal Justice System

Prosecutorial Intimidation Subverts Criminal Justice System by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

An opinion piece in a recent New York Times SundayReview raises an issue that goes to the heart of the criminal justice system as it plays out in our current society. It asks where the justice is in a system that coerces most people accused of crime into accepting plea deals over jury trials.

According to the author, over 90% of criminal cases are never heard by juries. That means that over 90% of the accused cede their constitutional rights to trial by jury to accept plea deals. These plea deals are often portrayed by prosecutors as easy ways out of facing far more onerous outcomes if the accused insists on trial by jury. That means that the peoples’ power to determine the facts of all these cases and to decide the fate of the accused has been taken away by a system more interested in incarceration than justice.

I would also ask where the justice is in a system that replaces due process and the presumption of innocence with what amounts to backroom kangaroo courts run by prosecutors. Prosecutors represent the State. The power to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt belongs to the people.

The author also points out that the court system would collapse if everyone accused of crime insisted on jury trials. There wouldn’t be enough money and judges to handle the flood of trials that would result.

Maybe that’s what we need to open people’s eyes to a system of “justice” that fills prisons with minor offenders who could be better dealt with in community based programs.

The US has about 5% of the world’s population and almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. We also have a growing corporate prison industry that thrives on incarcerating as many people as possible and keeping them in lock up while they profit at the taxpayers expense.

This whole situation smells.

See my blog post about jury nullification, another way for the people to exercise their rights as citizen jurors to correct injustice.

 

 

 

 

Jury Nullification – Judges Trumped

Jury Nullification – Judges Trumped by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

In jury nullification, juries trump judges. And prosecutors. And legislators.

While I’m on the subject of jury duty, here’s a peculiar feature of the law that some prosecutors and judges and others in the legal field seem to be afraid might become general knowledge.

Jury nullification

General public knowledge of jury nullification might put greater power in the hands of juries than that held by judges, prosecutors and legislators (in a very limited but useful sense).

The concept of jury nullification challenges the idea that, in the courtroom, judges interpret the law and juries interpret the evidence and render verdicts under the instructions of the judge regarding the law and its application.

Jury nullification allows the jury to ignore the judge’s instructions and, in essence, nullify, or throw out, the law or its application in the specific case being tried. Jury nullification is the finding by the jury that either the law is a bad law or it is being applied improperly in a specific case.

The concept is centuries old and is based in Common Law, which is part of the foundation of our legal system. Its history in North America starts in 1734 when a printer named John Peter Zenger was acquitted of seditious libel, contrary to the instructions of the judge hearing the case.

Jury nullification challenges State power. As such, it is a dangerous, subversive and powerful tool for maintaining the peoples’ hold on power.

It has a potential dark side. Theoretically, it could be used by a jury of racists or homophobes to acquit a person guilty of a hate crime.

On the other hand, consider the medical marijuana controversy. What if juries in Federal courts refused to convict medical marijuana growers, distributors and users in States that have legalized such use? Could the Federal government continue to interfere with the medicinal use of a proven, beneficial and natural drug?

There are a lot of questions that come to mind as I study jury nullification; I’m just getting started. It’s not my purpose here to expound on a complicated and controversial subject. I would be happy if a few of my readers pursued the study, on their own.

Following is a list of web-based resources. Google for more.

Reactions?

http://www.fija.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

http://www.levellers.org/jrp/

http://www.crfc.org/americanjury/nullification.html

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html

 
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