Aaron Sandusky Convicted in a Trial Where State Marijuana Law Couldn't Be Mentioned


Aaron Sandusky, the owner of the G3 Holistic medical marijuana enterprise in California's Inland Empire, has been found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and intent to distribute. The jury is deadlocked on four other counts. He is in custody awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for early January.

While Sandusky's plan of defense depended upon convincing jurors that he was in compliance with state law and that statements from federal officials led him to believe that the Feds wouldn't interefere, Federal Judge Percy Anderson cut off Sandusky's lawyer, Roger Diamond, at every turn.

The final day of the trial began with the bad news for the defense that Judge Anderson would not allow Diamond to make an "entrapment by estoppel" case, as outlined in an earlier post. Essentially, Diamond hoped to use public statements by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as private conversations between Sandusky and an FBI agent whom he assisted in prosecuting a corruption case, to prove that authorized government officials had given Sandusky erroneous advice leading him to reasonably believe that his actions were legal. Judge Anderson denied Diamond the opportunity to introduce any evidence or argumentation related to President Obama or Attorney General Holder.

"Unless it was a face-to-face meeting with President Obama or Eric Holder, it's not going to be admitted into evidence," Anderson said. 

But the truly devastating blow to Diamond's case came when Anderson refused to allow any testimony related to Sandusky's conversations with the FBI agent. Diamond seemed to be in disbelief that the judge was making this last-minute ruling on the final day of the trial and asked for a trial postponement. The judge denied this request. At this point, Sandusky put his head in his hands and then glanced at his fiancee, who was by this time in tears. His look said it all: Game over.

Diamond was forced to change his defense strategy once again and focus on the government's key witness, John Leslie Nuckolls. Nuckolls is a longtime friend and associate of Sandusky's who helped him start G3 Holistic. He also turned out to be a government informant. Because of his close relationship with Sandusky, Nuckolls provided some of the more damning testimony in the trial. Diamond attempted to discredit Nuckolls who, the previous day, lied on the stand about the terms of his written agreement with the government. He also tried to make the case that Nuckolls had been setting up Sandusky from the very beginning.

In the end, the drama with Nuckolls seemed besides the point. The federal government was successful in quelling any discussion of medical marijuana laws, federalism, or jury nullification--all of which were specters looming over the case when they discussed it in open court while jurors were not present. In closing statements, the federal prosecutors were sure to emphasize to jurors that personal feelings, political beliefs, and morals do not matter. The law is the law. 

One prosecutor instructed the jury "not to debate the law, but to apply the law." If there was one important takeaway from the prosecution's closing, it was this phrase, emblazoned on one of their presentational slides: "Factual determination, not moral judgment."

Diamond did not make any mention of state law and the legal ambiguities surrounding medical marijuana in his closing statement. Instead, he was constrained to pointing out technical faults in the prosecution's case. Was there really a formal agreement amounting to "conspiracy"? Had the prosecution really proved that Sandusky had handled the marijuana and therefore technically been in "possession" of it? But even while making these arguments, he conceded to the jury that he knows such technical loopholes rub people the wrong way and that it's simply his duty to make every argument possible for his client, even ludicrous-sounding ones. It was kind of like watching a stand-up comic finally give in to a relentess heckler, throw up his hands, and say, "I got nothing."

When the jury was dismissed, Judge Anderson did grant one request: The prosecution's request to add an extra two sentences to the written jury instructions: "Congress has defined marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal under federal law. You must disregard any state or local law to the contrary."

After the jury went into deliberation, I talked to Sandusky for a few minutes. As often seems to be the case, he seemed unusually cheerful given his circumstances. But he didn't seem to be in denial about what the likely verdict would be and seemed less-than-optimistic about Judge Anderson's sentence.

"I think he's going to throw the book at me," Sandusky said. "He can't wait to get his claws into me."

Sandusky also said, if convicted, he plans to file an immediate appeal based on the evidence that Judge Anderson denied. 

So that's where we are with the drug war in California where, it bears repeating, medical marijuana is legal. Agents of the federal government are well aware that the tide of opinion has turned against marijuana prohibition, and prosecutors are reduced to devoting the majority of their closing statements not to convincing jurors that defendants are a danger to society but to admonishing jurors against daring to think about the moral justifications behind the law. Your job is not to consider right and wrong. Your job is to convict violators of the law. And that's exactly what they did today.

Sandusky faces a minimum ten years and the possibility of a life sentence. 

UPDATE:

Aaron Sandusky's fiancée emailed to ask that I include a link to his legal defense fund to recoup attorney fees and plan for his appeal. It is here if you are interested.

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  • ||

    this is such a gross miscarriage of justice. it's just obscene. you would think that even though the defense was not allowed to mention the medical MJ law etc. (which is so kafkaesque it makes my gums bleed), that the jury was still aware of it. and yet, they still convicted. obscene.

    i have mentioned often before, the injustice when the federal "sovereign" steps in. it aint ok in the rodney king case, and it aint ok here. in the former, the federal sovereign was able to get around double jeopardy by engaging in... double jeopardy. in this case, they are able to completely obliterate a valid defense by preventing even its MENTION. there is no other word but obscene for what the federal govt has done in cases like this, and the judges are fully complicit.

    "Congress has defined marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal under federal law. You must disregard any state or local law to the contrary."

    OBSCENE. the jury should tell the judge "fuck you, we'll consider the state law". this is also a great example of how federal law so often munges up mens rea. clearly in this case, the defendant researched the law, followed it (the state law) and truly believed he was in the right. and the feds say - doesn't matter.

    cases like this make my teeth hurt, they make me so fucking angry

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    dunphy, are cops allowed to serve on juries? That would seem like a huge conflict of interest.

  • ||

    Someone being a cop doesn't mean that person has to think the defendant's guilty, any more than a defense attorney as a juror has to think the defendant is innocent. There are lots of cases where certain professions may be biased; we can't exclude them all from jury duty, and even if we could it wouldn't be a good idea. I think this is really something that needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

  • ||

    cops are ALLOWED to serve on juries. i, presonally lean more towards the defense side than a LOT of non-cop jurors.

    that aside, cops as a matter of practice rarely serve as defense attorneys assume they will be biased for prosecution and they will get excluded.

    i *know* based on my special knowledge not only that many accused are innnocent, but also will be able to relate it to my past experience in regards to people in similar circs who actually were guilty.

    but again, cops are almost always excluded from jury duty

  • LilDebbie||

    so when washington voters legalize marijuana this november and the DEA sends agents to bust up the pot shops anyway, you'll be there to arrest them, right?

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    They are the same voters that will vote to reelect the OBAMA/HOLDER Pot-Boutique door-smashers and puppy-killers. They will have brains full of grasshoppers when that happens!

  • Alan||

    This seems a common tactic: judges prevent defendants from introducing evidence or arguments that would exonerate them.

    I was once under the impression that defendants were allowed to defend themselves in court, but I have come to realize that this is not the case - and it is a disgrace. That is probably a contributing factor to so many innocent defendants accepting a plea bargain rather than going to trial.

  • juris imprudent||

    Were I in such a situation I would be inclined to co-represent myself so that I could tell the judge to fuck himself (in proper courtly language) since I would have no fear of disbarment and if the asshole held me in contempt it would suspend the trial (likely getting a mistrial and a new judge). That said I fervently hope that Judge Anderson contracts a deadly form of cancer and dies an agonizing death that would have at least been ameliorated by a little pot.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Is it time for 2nd amendment remedies yet?

  • ||

    i'd say no, but cases like this are why i want to hurl when i hear somebody BRAG about how they got out of jury duty. it's such a sacred commitment, and it's so important. imagine if a reasonoid was on this jury - guaranteed not guilty or hung jury.

    and i;m sure somebody will say that they would just get excluded during the jury questioning phase. mebbe. mebbe not. but regardless, people should JUMP at the opportunity, any opportunity, to serve on a jury. you can't simultaneously think our justice system is fucked up AND work to get out of jury commitment. that's immoral imo

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I'm not comfortable with jury nullification, because as RCD likes to say "you today, me tomorrow". But if I were on a jury in a case like this I wouldn't be comfortable voting to convict either. Of course I'm sure they would ask about positions on the drug laws in voir dire, which would mean me getting rejected by the prosecution again. (Interestingly, despite being considered an authoritarian or whatever around here, I've been rejected by the prosecution every time I've gone in for jury duty)

    Hopefully the judge's misconduct (which it obviously is) gets this overturned on appeal.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I'm not comfortable with jury nullification,

    Nullification is the entire point of juries. They're a crucial check on government power.

    -jcr

  • robc||

    I guess you dont use hammers either, because some one might bonk you in the head with one.

    You dont have to be "comfortable" with jury nullification, you just have to consider using it. It is your duty as a juror to judge both the facts and the law.

  • ||

    If juries are constrained from considering anything except the letter of the law, then they are unnecessary and even counterproductive to the cause of justice. Because a judge is far more educated in the law than almost any juror, and if the jury cannot nullify, then a computer would reach the same verdict that a jury would.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The problem is that the court system is so fucked up (at least here in CA) that a bullshit case that should take a day to hear drags out for a month. And most people can't take that kind of time off of work. I agree in principle. I'd love to serve on a jury, especially a case like this. But feeding my family is a higher priority.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Indeed. You mostly get unemployed people and government workers (who get full pay for jury duty). Not exactly an assemblage of one's peers.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Think:

    "I am ALLOWED to serve on a jury even though I know by personal experience that the cops lie through their teeth. I have suffered personal harm due to police lies. So what would you expect if I were a juror on a case involving, let's say, ENTRAPMENT?"

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    No. Evils are still sufferable.

    Plus, do recall that all it would take to stop this is a majority of Americans thinking this is unjust, and voting in accordance with that belief. if you can't win at the ballot box, you definitely can't win in an armed confrontation.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    1) I was just kidding. I would never advocate violence.

    2) You don't have to win, you just have to raise the costs so that bureaucrat douchebag passes on the case. Kind of how everyone's afraid to publicly criticize moslems.

    3) But I'm definitely not advocating violence of any sort.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Kind of how everyone's afraid to publicly criticize moslems.

    I hope you're kidding about that, too. Muslims get publicly criticized more than any other religious group. Can you discuss anything here without taking a shot at Muslims?

    And there's a difference between criticizing Islam and tarring all Muslims as savages. You insult the real critics out there when you lump them in with people who insult for the sole purpose of insulting.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yes, I should have said that people are afraid to criticize Islam the religion not muslims the believers.

    And I've mentioned it twice in the last 3-4 months so what are you talking about with Can you discuss anything here without taking a shot at Muslims??

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I should have said that people are afraid to criticize Islam the religion not muslims the believers.

    More people are afraid to criticize Judaism than Islam. You say the slightest disparaging thing about Judaism and you're labeled an anti-Semite.

    Meanwhile, that idiot pastor in Florida periodically threatens to burn Korans, and nothing whatsoever happens to him; candidates for office in red states and red districts routinely bash Islam quite explicitly, get elected, and nothing ever happens to them either. So yeah, go on about how everyone's frightened to silence.

  • ||

    More people are afraid to criticize Judaism than Islam. You say the slightest disparaging thing about Judaism and you're labeled an anti-Semite.

    It doesn't help that when people criticize, it's almost never about actual beliefs. Usually you just hear the words "Zionism" and the like, which isn't the same thing.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Again, the same is true of the most firebreathing criticism of Islam. "Islamist", "Islamofascist", "Jihadist", etc.

    And don't tell me that violence is a part of Islam... read the OT sometime if you think Judaism is a religion of peace. It's been a religion of peace for 1900 years because Jews were in the minority everywhere they lived. Lack of access to power is the best enforcer of pacifism.

    Of course, since 1947, we've seen that Jews can be as bloodthirsty and belligerent as Muslims, Christians, Hindus, atheists, etc. It's almost as if religion is just used as an excuse for violence.

  • ||

    I'm pro-Semitic. I favor native Palestinians over Israelis.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    VGZ:

    Maybe its not fear of criticizing Muslims, but reticence at doing so brought on by disgust at watching the US government looting the productive class to finance war-on-Muslims at home and wrecking Muslim countries around the world through aggressive military interventionism-- guilt or innocence doesn't seem to have anything to do with it.

  • Generic Stranger||

    It's a bad month to be named Sandusky.

  • ||

    lol. yea

    fwiw, the "entrapment by estoppel" defense is CLEARLY applicable in the sandusky case. it's a very elegant defense, hardly a "technicality". it makes perfect sense, which is why the feds got it quashed. probably would have been found not guilty, since it CLEARLY WAS an ENTRAPMENT BY ESTOPPEL.

    a *lot* of entrapment defenses are ridiculous. but in this case the E by E defense almost proves itself, it's that self-evident

    entrapment by estoppel was first used in Raley v. Ohio. totally cool defense... and makes sense to the layman, the lawyer, and frankly... anybody with a brain

    http://supreme.justia.com/case.....s/360/423/

  • Robert||

    Mr. Sandusky? His associate, Mr. Knuckles? You can't make this stuff up!

  • Alan||

    Yes. The other Sandusky may or may not have been guilty, but there's a stench about the prosecution. A chief witness that changed his story (he "saw" a rape, well, he didn't actually "see" it - he presumed it), another early witness who recanted and admitted he was after the money, some testimony from witnesses that was frankly not credible, and all the witnesses with emotional problems and an incentive to lie that preceded their association with the defendant.

    But of course the charges were so heinous that everyone presumed them to be true, so yes - it's a bad month to be named Sandusky.

  • ||

    One prosecutor instructed the jury "not to debate the law, but to apply the law."

    Lawyers are awesome people. You know paedophiles are better than lawyers. At pedophiles keep their assfucking to children. A lawyer will fuck anyone at any time, for the right price. Hell sometime you can get them to fuck someone pro bono.

    I never understood how the cocks in the black dresses cold tell you what your defense could be. If your fucking law is so noble, so righteous, so logical, so morally sound, then why would you fear any defense.

    What a noble fucking profession you guys have there.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The defense attorney is a lawyer too, you know.

    I would agree that it takes a special kind of sociopath to rise through the ranks as a prosecutor.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What happens if the guy is representing himself and basically ignores the judges incstructions and keeps mentioning his defense and jury nullification?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    He'd be continually interrupted by the judge telling the jury to ignore what he said. I'm not sure if the judge can totally shut down a defendant who doesn't obey his orders, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's precedent.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I'm sure the judge could declare a mistrial and or hold him in contempt.

    But the guy is basically being railroaded into a lifetime prison sentence anyway. So I don't see what he'd have to lose.

  • ||

    They lose their little permission slip from the government to earn a living.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's how they control the defense attorney. But what if the defendant is representing himself?

  • ||

    the right to defend oneself is not absolute. trust me. if the guy disrupts shit and continually holds the judges rulings in contempt, he will be stripped of that ability. it happens not infrequently.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yeah, didn't they do something like that to Moussaui? The court forced him to use a public defender, right?

  • ||

    Yeah, but it's constitutionally impossible to convict someone who is not permitted to defend himself or confront his accusers.

    "Convicting" someone who is denied those rights produces a political prisoner, not a convict.

  • ||

    It doesn't matter what kind of lawyer you are. You could be a tax lawyer,a patent lawyer, a fucking entertainment lawyer. You job is to do whatever is in the interest of your client. And if your client is a douchebag, your job is to forward said douchebag's interests regardless of whoever that fucks over, regardless of concepts like right and wrong.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Well, a trial lawyer (other than a public defender) can pick and choose what cases to take. I'm sure there are trial lawyers who would refuse cases they consider to be morally wrong to argue.

    Of course most lawyers never do trials.

  • ||

    frankly, i think being a defense attorney would be fun. however, it takes a special kind of person to consistently represent people you know are guilty as fuck and TRY to get them found not guilty - iow, not held accountable.

    prosecutors violate their oath sometimes, but their oath is to seek justice. iow, they are only supposed to prosecute when they think they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and the "win at all costs" thing doesn't apply to them like it does to a defense attorney.

    if a prosecutor discovers exculpatory evidence, for example, they must inform the defense

    the converse is not true. iow, if defense attorney discovers evidence incriminating his client, not only is he not required to notify the prosecution, it is a violation of his code of ethics (and they will be disbarred quite likely) if they do so.

    only one side is duty bound to consider actual justic and guilt or innocence. defense attorneys merely have to defend their clients, within the law, as zealously as they can.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    In theory, yes. However we see all too frequently how seriously prosecutors take their duty.

  • ||

    we see the BAD examples here, because that's what reason does.

    and it's a good thing. but don't let spotlight bias taint you, tulpa. i've dealt with a lot of prosecutors and as a rule they are incredibly ethical, and care very deeply about fairness and justice

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    But the presence of any bad examples -- let alone the number that Reason points out-- calls into question the validity of your faith in the system.

    If we had a jumbo jet crashing every day in America, you hopefully wouldn't say, well, no one pays attention to the 10,000 other flights that didn't crash every day.

  • ||

    tulpa, the system is composed of human beings. setting aside the important issue that our knowledge is imperfect and that courts are trying to ferret out truth amidst a host of technicalities/rules, you have the fact that there are some bad prosecutors, bad defense attorneys, etc.

    wonderful.

    again, my FAITH in the system is that it is a deeply flawed system, but that on the whole it works damn well

  • ||

    " i've dealt with a lot of prosecutors and as a rule they are incredibly ethical, and care very deeply about fairness and justice"

    Where can I apply for a visa to visit the planet you live on?

  • Xenocles||

    Ken from Popehat was a prosecutor once. He seems like a decent guy.

  • DemosTheKnees||

    The adversarial relationship requires adversaries. That means a defense vs. a prosecution, each with a job to do. Would some here prefer only a defense or, worse, only a prosecution? Or, to take it to its anarchist extreme, no justice system at all, or several justice systems (a "market" of competing judges, juries, vigilantes and arbitrary laws?)

  • ||

    The issue isn't prosecutors doing what they can to convict. For one thing, prosecutors (or the Office, at least) CHOOSE who to prosecute. If they're choosing people they shouldn't be choosing, how is that a good thing? Or how is trying to prevent the defense from seeing all the evidence, or present their case in the first place part of their job? IT ISN'T. The problem isn't prosecutors doing their jobs, it's prosecutors using illicit means to shut down the defense.

  • Generic Stranger||


    Ken from Popehat was a prosecutor once. He seems like a decent guy.

    Notice how he's a defense lawyer now? I think that's what happens to all the good prosecutors; they switch sides.

    The adversarial relationship requires adversaries.

    The problem is that too many prosecutors think that "adversarial" means "win at all cost" rather than "represent your client, the people".

  • Xenocles||

    "Notice how he's a defense lawyer now? I think that's what happens to all the good prosecutors; they switch sides."

    Even if we stipulate this, it still allows for good people to currently be prosecutors.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The adversarial relationship requires adversaries. That means a defense vs. a prosecution, each with a job to do. Would some here prefer only a defense or, worse, only a prosecution?

    The jobs are only supposed to be adversarial as long as the prosecutor believes that the defendant committed the crime AND the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to prove that he or she did.

    When that condition fails, there is no relationship, because the prosecution is supposed to be abandoned and the accused set free.

  • ||

    How adversarial can you be when the supposedly impartial referee (the judge) is so biased in favor of one of the adversaries that the other literally cannot do anything, even if the law is on their side?

  • Alan||

    This may be true, but they may also care about the "justice" of imprisoning someone for smoking pot - or, 50 years ago they would have cared about the "justice" of imprisoning a homosexual.

    Which is to say, they represent the stupidity and malice of the general public. Perhaps we can't expect better, but damned if I'll call it "ethical".

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I never understood how the cocks in the black dresses cold tell you what your defense could be

    It's completely preposterous.

    Anyone that ever starts thinking that the courts defend liberty should be reminded of this case.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Would you object if a judge refused to allow cops on trial for brutality to bring up the victim's previous criminal record?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Actually yes I would. Excluding evidence is complete bullshit and overwhelmingly aids the state. It wasn't part of the US court system until the middle of the 20th century anyway.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    So you're against the exclusionary rule, too? Buh bye 4th amendment.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Excluding evidence doesn't 'punish' the police. And excluding evidence doesn't make innocent people secure from police abuse.

    Eliminating their immunity is the onl thing that will restore our security. And that immunity was entirely invented by the same court system that invented excluding evidence.

    Besides, excluding evidence had the unintended consequence of encouraging cops testilying. Which has further corrupted law enforcement and the courts.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Presuming that the police are conducting bad searches in order to get convictions etc., the exclusionary rule does punish them by making it impossible to use evidence that could have been obtained by legitimate means.

    If the cops are searching just for fun, then I agree the exclusionary rule doesn't discourage that, though the prosecutors would probably get seriously pissed that they were making it impossible to prosecute someone.

    One major chink in this armor, of course, is asset forfeiture, which is total bullshit (and is one of the anti-liberty gremlins we inherited from English common law, not a modern development).

  • ||

    zaytsev, tulpa,...

    there are a LOT of different ways the exclusionary rule can be triggered.

    in SOME cases, it's cases where cops deliberately violate search and seizure restrictions. in others, it's a close call where maybe 5 judges think they did, 4 think they didn't and it's clearly not a conscious decision to violate, but merely intelligent adults disagreeing on nuances.

    there was a case at volokh.com where both qualified immunity was revoked AND evidence was excluded and the officer was 100% honest in his warant app (left no relevant info out ) AND had it reviewed by a prosecuting attorney and signed by a judge.

    but still the courts ruled HE fucked up and they excluded. amazing.

    i've had fruits of terry stops and arrests excluded. i've had statements suppressed too. comes with the territory. my one rule is NEVER make a bad case good. iow, if you fuck up you fucked up, but NEVER lie in a report to try to make a fuck up into a good case. that's unconscionable.

  • ||

    a good cop will occasionally have shit suppressed. comes with a territory where you can't evne get 9 judges to agree with the full benefit of 20/20 hindsight on the case facts meriting exclusion. of course, for the cop in the dynamic evolving situation, it's doubly hard.

    the cops that re bad are the ones that are routinely ignoring the rules and./or are lying to get around the rules.

    a cop should never take a case personally. personally, i don't think it's a "win" if there is a conviction. my job is impartially gather evidence. if the guy is not guilty, then a WIN is an acquittal. not my place to decide.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    my one rule is NEVER make a bad case good.

    Good luck evangelizing your brothers in blue to follow that rule.

  • ||

    ime, most cops are truthful and of the highest ethical standards. otoh, there are bad cops out there. welcome to our imperfect world.

  • Xenocles||

    The exclusionary rule doesn't hinder the defense, does it?

  • ||

    @Tulpa "So you're against the exclusionary rule, too? Buh bye 4th amendment."

    Excluding the completely valid legal arguments of the defense is too much exclusion.

    Buh bye 6th amendment.

  • Alan||

    Indeed - and originally, jurors were expected to be people the defendant actually knew - peers - people from the same community who could make a judgment that took all the circumstances into account.

    And certainly, if a cop shoots a man dead because he thought the man's cell phone was a gun, it should make a difference if the cop knew that the man had a history of repeatedly committing armed robbery.

  • ||

    i disagree. what this case shows is that the court system is flawed. the arc of justice and imo the bulk of court cases DO show that liberty is a strongly protected thing WITHIN THE LAW. obviously, for example, since the legislative branch made drug possession illegal, courts are not going to defend it as a liberty.
    but i think it's wrong to hold up a miscarriage of justice and say that it's indicative of the system as a whole.

  • ||

    Alcohol that can be consumed safely by humans is not a common natural occurrence. It's almost entirely a manufactured substance. Alcohol that tastes good to humans and is safe to drink is entirely a non-natural substance.

    Congress required a constitutional amendment to ban that manufactured substance. It was simply illegal for them to do so without amending the constitution.

    Marijuana is literally a dried flower. As anyone who has seen dead grass along a roadside can attest, plants dry out naturally all the time.

    The portions of the constitution pertaining to the banning of any substance have not changed since the repeal of the alcohol prohibition amendment.

    If Congress could not ban a manufactured, highly processed substance without a constitutional amendment, then they also cannot ban a wholly natural substance without such an amendment.

    So, since the basis of U.S. law is British Common Law, which basically takes the idea that anything not forbidden is allowed and runs with it, can you show me the constitutional amendment that prohibits marijuana?

  • robc||

    If jury nullification arguments werent allowed, then the prosecutors statements were violations of the judges order too.

  • ||

    It's worse than that.

    People have been arrested and charged with jury tampering for informing jurors of the true nature of the law. The prosecutors in those cases would have us believe that telling jurors the absolute, unvarnished truth is a crime.

    But when a prosecutor lies to a jury about what the law says in order to induce them to produce a specific verdict, it's not only not a crime, it's just the way the system works.

    Al Capone had a system too, it was called organized crime. That didn't make it legal.

  • Alan||

    +1

  • ||

    Your job is not to consider right and wrong. Your job is to convict violators of the law.

    Amazing. This is why I route against the human race. It's fucking pathetic.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It wasn't exactly a human that wrote or read that sentence to the jury.

  • Paul.||

    I would say that at this point, anyone running a marijuana dispensary business is spectacularly foolish, brave, or both.

    This part makes me wince:

    federal officials led him to believe that the Feds wouldn't interefere,

    Aaron, Aaron, Aaron. Federal officials will always interfere, given the opportunity.

    There seems to be something about this case we're not hearing in full, what does this 'informant' Knuckles have to do with anything? And why did the feds pick on Sandusky's dispensary, as opposed to every single other dispensary in the state of California?

    Ie, why did the feds need an informant if they can bust any dispensary at any time, compliant with state law or not?

  • ||

    Remember that some of the people that voted against marijuana legalization in California were the dispensary owners. Why? Becuase they wanted to keep all those profits. Those douchebags that did, I don't feel any sympathy if they get sent to club fed. God damn people suck.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Even if legalization had passed in CA this would still be happening.

  • shamalam||

    Yeah, I am right there with you on the romance between dispensary owners and the law.

    Prop 19 totally soured me on medical marijuana, growers, dispensary owners, and every other rent seeking asshole.

    I would have dearly loved to see the jury nullify this case, though.

  • Paul.||

    I watched the video and I have a better understanding as I haven't followed this case super-closely, beyond the surface details.

    The particular municipality he lived in made marijuana illegal, in contradistinction (proper word here? Someone call Cavanaugh and get a ruling on that) to the state law. So the feds are concentrating on people like Sandusky (which, by the way is the worst last name to have when heading into prison) as he makes a good prosecutorial "example". Ask me when I'm sober if I really needed scare quotes around "example".

    Nevertheless, travesty of justice-- I hope Sandusky gets off with a light sentence, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Vote for Gary Johnson, then write letters to President Johnson demanding pardons all around.

    And remember folks, a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Gary Johnson.

  • wakeup||

    At Least 16 Dead Following Latest US Drone Attack in Pakistan

  • Paul.||

    Peace prizes all around.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Hey, at least they weren't waterboarded.

  • Tamfang||

    Seems to me that when the prosecution presumed to instruct the jury, "Factual determination, not moral judgment," they opened the door for the defense to reply: Guilt is a moral judgement; and whatever the jury does has moral consequences.

  • ||

    except that's ridiculous. as a matter of rule of law and how our legal system WORKS, "guilt" is a determination of fact, not of morality.

    your statement makes no sense.

  • Major Pain||

    "guilt is a determination of fact"

    ...only it isn't. It's an expression of opinion. Quite often, incorrect opinion -- and that is a fact.

    This kind of legal language assfuckery is part of what makes the system so irretrievably broken.

  • robc||

    No, it is both. To determine guilt, the jury must both judge the facts of the case and the law.

    The first part is absolutely a fact, the latter part is primarily a moral decision (although once you have your moral code defined, that judgment is factual too).

  • YinxDoo||

    lol, I say off with his head at once!

    www.UA-Anon.tk

  • Generic Stranger||

    This new anon-bot sucks. What happened to our happy-go-lucky libertarian anon-bot? Did he become too self-aware?

  • John C. Randolph||

    I want to know how in the FUCK the judge ever gained the power to prevent the defendant from saying whatever the hell he wanted to say in his own defense.

    -jcr

  • ||

    While they've lost the power to summarily hang people, judges can still have you thrown in the slammer if you piss them off. My guess is this guy wouldn't have gotten more than a few words in before the judge held him in contempt and removed him from the court room.

  • John C. Randolph||

    If the guy knows he's getting railroaded, he might as well just refuse to participate and issue a statement to the press that a if he's not allowed to defend himself, he's not in a court of law at all.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Which would probably result in him being held in a jail until he formally apologizes to the judge and court. Whether that be for a day or 500 years.

    After the apology, his sentence would then be carried out. But it wouldn't start until he got out of prison for contempt.

  • Alan||

    This court deserves contempt.

  • Alan||

    Seems reasonable enough.

  • mr simple||

    Fucking St. Louis. Everyone just keeps tripping over themselves to give the fucking Cardinals the win. I don't think they could have planned to have four more boring teams left in the post season than they do now. This is just awful.

  • wakeup||

    I quote the wise Chomsky:


    Well, one thing that’s left is sports — so you put a lot of the intelligence and the thought and the self-confidence into that. And I suppose that’s also one of the basic functions it serves in the society in general: it occupies the population, and keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter.
  • John Thacker||

    Does he have the same opinion of all art, especially "art for art's sake?"

  • ||

    It'd be nice if this decision were reversed on appeal, but it wouldn't change much. Where's the fund to remove Judge Anderson from the bench?

  • Paul.||

    OT: Peter Schiff explains to John McCain, carefully and slowly, why he lost and why Romney will lose.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gztYZ7jvY0w

  • John C. Randolph||

    I'm convinced that McCain got the nomination because the powers that be in the Republican side of the Ruling Party considered him expendable. They knew that whoever ran after Bush would be road kill.

    -jcr

  • John Thacker||

    Eh, Occam's Razor says that since it was "his turn" as the second place guy last time (since Cheney didn't want to run), he was going to get the GOP nomination.

    The GOP nomination always goes to the next in line in the succession.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Except when it doesn't.

    Including 2012. Romney came in 3rd in 2008, Huckster came in 2nd.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Occam's Razor says no such thing.

    And GWB didn't even run in 1996.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    But he's wrong. Romney will win.

    2008 was probably going Democrat in any case, but no Republican nominee could have survived the financial crisis.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Actually, the response to the financial crisis, specifically TARP was McCain's only chance of winning the election.

    That is, if he had gone populist in opposition to TARP he would have won. He could have used it to tie Bush and Obama together and ran as the real anti-Bush outsider.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Your job is to convict violators of the law.

    This got me kicked out of my one and only jury pool.

    They gave us a questionnaire to fill out, and one of the questions (as I read it) was basically, "Do you faithfully promise to vote to convict anybody we put in front of you?" I left that one blank; when the prosecutor asked me why, I told him there were too many dumb laws on the books to ever make a commitment like that without knowing what the actual "crime" was.

    After a brief back and forth, in which I cited drug laws as an example, it was, "POW, ALICE! To the MOON!"

  • VG Zaytsev||

    "Do you faithfully promise to vote to convict anybody we put in front of you?"

    WTF???

    That's an admission that the whole jury trial is just for show.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Pretty sure that's Brooksie's heavily distorted version of the question.

    It was probably "Do you promise to vote to convict anyone who is proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed the crime with which they are charged?" ie, booting anyone who favors jury nullification.

  • ||

    And how is it only jury tampering when the defense or an uninvolved citizen tells a juror something, but not jury tampering when the prosecution or a judge lies to a juror?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It's just occurred to me that a very worthwhile initiative would be one that requires a judge to notify the jury that they are the deciders of fact and law in the case and that jury nullification is a valid part of our system of justice. Make it reversible error if that instruction is not included by the judge or better yet that the case will be dismissed with prejudice if it's not included.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yes indeed - at the very least, let the jurors decide matters of legal interpretation like they used to do - and which they still ought to do, since they are responsible before God for giving a general verdict of guilty or not guilty, not just "well, guilty under the government's bizarre 5-4 legal interpretation which we ourselves would not endorse in 100 years."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Seriously, if you can't convince the jury that acting in compliance with state law with regard to purely local economic transactions is a crime, then how should you be able to force them to convict?

    If the jury's only job is to find facts, then they can make a verdict on the facts - "we find that the defendant was in the business of selling medical marijuana as of [date], etc., but we won't presume to say whether that's legal, after all, that's not our job according to what you've been telling us. So we refuse to call him guilty."

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Nice to see mister Rool of Law up there saying we should be allowed to pick and choose which laws we want to see enforced.

    As long as they're the laws HE (dis)agrees with, that is.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I see jury trial has returned to its roots.

    The Norman conquerors of England summoned panels of the local conquered Saxon populace to force them to disclose what they knew about local crimes, land titles and other matters with which the conquering population, foreign and unfamiliar with the local language, was probably unfamiliar.

    Over time, with their ability to deliver general verdicts - that is, "guilty" "not guilty" - juries didn't have to bend to the specific agenda of the government. They didn't need to limit themselves to saying "YES or NO - did the defendant say mean things criticizing our glorious King?" Instead, they got to decide whether the things the defendant said were actually criminal libel. So even if the defendant said mean things about His Majesty, the jury could still find him Not Guilty.

    Now we're getting back to the role of jurors as subjects ordered to assist the government in ruling a conquered population. "YES or NO - did the defendant sell such-and-such amounts of a plant we don't like?" Never mind general verdicts - that is just a formality, and the jury is simply supposed to answer the questions the government needs answered in order to carry out its rule over the conquered.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    There is a guy in very similar circumstances (whose name I can't recall off the top of my head) here in Montana who, unlike his business partners, has refused a plea deal and wants to use this defense. The federal prosecutors have asked the judge to exclude any mention of state medical marijuana law.

    I wonder what he and his attorneys are talking about today.

  • DemosTheKnees||

    The best scenario is an informed, intelligent, vigilant and freedom-loving populace. That we don't have one, or that we have an imperfect one, does not mean that the system we have is flawed. We look to the ideal--to be judged by our fellow citizens, not the state--and hope for the best. There are no guarantees of perfection. If there were, Reason pundits would have nothing to pundicize about.

  • ||

    Too bad the system's flawed anyway; but you act as if we want to throw it out entirely.

  • DemosTheKnees||

    Your real-world solution?

  • wingnutx||

    "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

    Barack Obama, 2008

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    People say, "you'll have your day in court," in the general belief that the defendant will, at least through legal counsel, get a chance to speak and present the best defense case possible. Clearly, in Federal prosecutions, that belief is simply wrong. We need to deal with the discrepancy, and not by changing the wording of the old saying.

  • ||

    Your job is not to consider right and wrong. Your job is to convict violators of the law.

    He meant to say, our law, didn't he.

    People have made this point above. We serfs owe allegiance to many different sovereigns. When you cannot appeal that you were, in fact (and not in some fucked up "legal" sense of in fact, I mean.... like fucking reality) obeying another sovereign, the first sovereign does not deserve my allegiance. And I believe that the Declaration of Independence tells me I have a duty to over throw such a sovereign.

    The US Federal government is the biggest threat to liberty we have today. And it should be replaced.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Indeed, couldn't agree more.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Your job is not to consider right and wrong.

    If any judge said that to a jury in my hearing, I would be compelled to correct him loudly and emphatically.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Here's an interesting fact: Judges are not immune to 18USC241 and 242.

    They're usually not exempted from citizen's arrest, either. If a judge issues an order that breaks 242, and a bailiff moves to carry it out, both have broken 241, which is a felony. Most states have citizen's arrest for felonies that happen right in front of the citizen.

    And if a judge could order his own release or that charges against him be dropped, they'd be called Your Majesty, not Your Honor.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You should totally test out your theories. I'll be behind you - *waaaay* behind you.

  • deified||

    Land of the Free, huh?

  • The Dude||

    Sounds like the real problem here is judge Percy. Percy!

  • Stevecsd||

    When the judge precluded the defendant from introducing facts about state law, Aaron Sandusky should have objected on the grounds that the judge is violating his 1st Amendment rights. I remember reading about a similar case a few years ago, where the judge prevented any evidence of state laws. If citizens can't exercise their free speech rights in a federal court when they are on trial, the Constitution has been made null and void for all practical purposes.

    I agree with Gindjurra about invoking 18USC41 & 42 in cases like this, because it seems like the judges are using "prior restraint" which the Supreme Court has ruled as a big no-no.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Outrageous. The jury's job is to deliver justice NOT simply to "convict violators of the law." Who else but the jury has the job of ensuring justice is served?

    Information on Jury Nullification ought to be part and parcel of every trial...

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