Jacob Sullum shares this incredible story from a defense attorney in Kansas.
I had a jury trial this morning on level 3 possession with intent MJ, level 4 possession drug paraphernalia and level 10 no drug tax stamp. During voir dire, my almost all white, middle-class, middle-aged jury went into full rebellion against the prosecutor stating that they wouldn’t convict even if the client’s guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt — almost all of them! They felt marijuana should be legalized, what he does with it is his own business and that the jails are already full of people for this silly charge. Then, when the potential jurors found out that the State wanted him to pay taxes on illegal drugs, they went nuts. One woman from the back said how stupid this was and why are we even here wasting our time. A “suit” from the front said this was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. The prosecutor ended up dismissing the case. Judge gave me a dismissal with prejudice. I’m still laughing my ass off over this one. I have NEVER seen a full on mutiny by an entire jury pool before. Easiest win ever!
In so many ways, the drug war’s own exploding unpopularity is poised to become its downfall. Events like this aren’t the norm (yet), but the mere threat of insurrection in the courtroom is already an important check against prosecutorial overreach in the war on drugs (in case you were wondering why so many medical marijuana raids never lead to criminal charges).
As the polls continue to turn in favor of reform, the refusal of juries to convict marijuana offenders could quickly become a brutal burden for these drug war boneheads to bear. It’s about damn time.
By Scott Morgan