Jury Pool In Marijuana Case Stages Mutiny; Won’t Convict

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~

Graphic: The Bilerico Project 

In a move sure to sweep the land, a jury pool has refused to convict the defendant of a marijuana charge. 

​​In what could grow into something much bigger in future cases, potential jurors in Missoula County District Court staged a revolt Thursday, taking the law into their own hands and making it clear they would not convict anybody for having less than 2 grams of marijuana. 

The tiny amount of marijuana police found in Touray Cornell’s Missoula, Montana home on April 23 became a big point of contention for some members of the jury panel, reports Gwen Florio of The Missoulian. One juror after another said there was no way they would convict somebody for having 1/16 of an ounce of pot. 

One juror wondered aloud why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, according to a “flummoxed” Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul, who called it “a mutiny,” Florio reports. 

When District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll to find who might agree, of about 27 potential jurors before him, around five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections.   

“I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,’ ” said Deschamps, who called a recess to address the situation. 

Deschamps said that in his nearly 30 years as a prosecutor and judge, he had never seen anything like it.

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  • Awesome! We need people all around the country to start doing this when they are jurors.

  • Steven Mendez

    I am glad to see the common sense of the people making a change. Educate the masses and create educated juries. Thank you.

  • Swamijie

    I do believe that is called changing the law through Jury Nullification. A jury has the right to strike down a law by refusing to convict and this is apparently what has happened in this case…

  • Kevin

    Awesome! Really glad to hear it. Movements like these tend to start from the bottom up. My only fear here is that they’ll just excuse all those who are opposed and just bring in people who will convict.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    They don’t ‘strike down’ laws by refusing to convict. They just refuse to convict someone over such a menial amount of pot. The next person busted for a pittance of weed can still be convicted, should they take it to a jury instead of taking the plea bargain which their ‘public defender’ surely would nearly twist their arm to accept.

  • Not Cheech

    Whatever happened to the liquor cartels smuggling their underground booze? Oh yeah, they became businesses and their cohorts became consumers. Amazing. All that crime just vanished into thin air and today, you are looked at strangely if you should say, “No thanks. I don’t drink.”

  • This is awesome, very glad to hear it. I hope we see more and more of this. Jury nullification is one of the most underrated tools for activism. If juries start doing this more often, maybe we can get this silly laws repealed.

  • jim

    I’m told that the Jury system is designed to override the Judge’s ruling whenever the jury acquits a defendant. In other words, a jury always has the right to declare someone innocent–including in cases where the accused is clearly guilty. It’s a part of a system designed to emphasize and preserve the prime goal of never ever convicting the innocent, even if some guilty go free.

    I like that. I think it’s a great idea. But people don’t know this fact.

    So spread the word among your friends and aquaintences. A jury always has the right to declare a defendant innocent–even if he’s guilty. No judge can overrule that verdict. Check it out!

  • Michael

    For those of you who are wondering, This is an example of what is called jury nullification. It is your right, when put on trial to use this as your defense. You may ask the jury that they find you innocent by means of an unjust law. For instance in this case the jurors decided that anything less than 2g of marijuana was silly to convict. They took a law, namely the illegality of under 2g of marijuana, and said no, we think this law should change. There is a similar case being tried in NJ by the mildly famous NJ weedman. He is using juror nullification on marijuana possession charges there, however he had something along the lines of an ounce. That being said it could work, if the jurors selected believe that having 1oz of marijuana really isn’t a crime then he will get off. (just an aside, this case has been tied up in the nj courts for some time now and I haven’t seen any info on it in the past few months). This is a safeguard that our founding fathers gave the people against tyranny. Since the law here is ultimately determined by the people it is in my opinion one of the most beautiful parts of the American court system.