San Diego Mayor Urges Jury Nullification in Medical Marijuana Case

I'm betting the DOJ really wants to wipe the smile off this guy's face.City of San DiegoJury nullification doesn’t typically get much attention outside of libertarian circles, but San Diego Bob Filner is looking to change that. He held a press conference yesterday to encourage potential jury members to reject federal charges against Ronnie Chang of San Marcos, who was arrested by feds in 2009 for operating a medical marijuana dispensary, legal under state law. NBC San Diego reports:

"This is way overdoing it when local laws, state laws allow compassionate use of medical marijuana,” Filner told reporters at the downtown U.S. District Court complex Monday. “Someone should not be going through this stage of prosecution for trying to help people to have access to medical marijuana."

The case is scheduled for trial in the fall. There’s also some strong evidence the federal government knows how badly it’s losing this war:

On Monday’s docket were prosecutors’ arguments that Chang's attorney, Michael McCabe, violated a judicial order against discussing the case in public by giving a videotaped interview to medical marijuana activists that was posted YouTube. It has since attracted a little more than 500 views.

McCabe told Judge Michael Anello that he'd request that San Diego Americans for Safe Access, the video’s producer and YouTube account holder, take down the video.

That seemed to satisfy the judge and Asst. U.S. Attorney Paul Starita, at least for the moment.

According to San Diego’s Fox news station, though, the prosecution is wanting to suppress a lot more than just Chang speaking out:

Prosecutors also wanted all material regarding the case removed from the internet and social networks.  A federal judge did not enforce the gag order, but instead McCabe agreed to the stipulation that he would not “try” the case in front of the press.  Prosecutors also back down from the request of removing material from the internet. (Emphasis added)

Our latest Reason-Rupe poll (pdf) shows that only 6 percent of Americans think somebody should go to jail for possessing small amounts of marijuana and 52 percent think the federal government should be forbidden from prosecuting people for marijuana possession in states where it has been legalized.

(Dual hat tips to Deified and Jasno Spam for the e-mailed links)

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What's this guy been smoking? SOFT ON CRIME.

  • Almanian!||

    CLEARLY NEVER LOST ANYONE IN THE WAR ON DRUGZ. DON'T LET ALL THEIR DEATHS BE I VAIN - KILL MOAR PEOPLE TO SAVE THEM!

  • kevin_hunt||

    What 'crime'? Selling marijuana is illegal, but it is not a 'crime'.

  • ||

    You really need to lurk more and develop a sense of humor. Because FoE's sarcasm is flying about a mile over your head.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    These things happen when someone has a google alert for "jury nullification" or whatever.

    Hey, Kevin: the vast majority of us agree with you. We're just joking around.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Not understanding HyR is not illegal, but it is a 'crime'.

  • Acosmist||

    Well that sure is a smile and a half.

  • BakedPenguin||

    He looks like a Star Wars creature.

    From one of the prequels.

  • Acosmist||

    I regret to say that I know which one you mean, unless you didn't mean one specifically, in which case I regret it even more.

  • BakedPenguin||

    My memory of those films is hazy, as my mind has attempted to delete any knowledge of them, but I do have a recollection of a creature that looked like that.

    I don't remember if he smoked pot, however.

  • Almanian!||

    Also - we had to kill your freedom to save it. hth

  • triclops||

    Finally, a reason to applaud that dirt bag Filner.

  • ||

    Prosecutors also wanted all material regarding the case removed from the internet and social networks.

    Like, the whole internet?

  • ||

    Prosecutors really are that stupid, have no doubt.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    That prosecutor, Starita, is also a Marine Corp judge.

  • Raston Bot||

    then that pretty much confirms it.

  • Pete Geller||

    I'm sure he'll want him shot by firing squad if found guilty too...

  • Spartacus||

    I suppose he wants to order newspapers not to print anything on the case as well. It's a reasonable request, right?

  • Raston Bot||

    NO! That would be a violation of the First Amendment. Don't you people know anything about the Constitution??

    /kevin_hunt

  • Finrod||

    The prosecutors also wanted free ice cream and a pony.

  • DJK||

    I'd like to see a link posted to that Youtube video. Send it out to all your friends and family members. Try to make it go viral.

  • robc||

    Paging Tulpa to tell us why jury nullification is bad again.

  • SugarFree||

    The law is the law and all laws are moral, otherwise they wouldn't be laws.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you don't like a law then it's up to you to contact your representative and get it changed. We can't allow juries to let guilty people go because next thing white juries will acquit whites of murdering blacks, and so on and so forth. The entire system will break down, and anarchy will ensue. The law is the law is the law. Love it or leave it.

  • kevin_hunt||

    The first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, advocated jury nullification. Consensual crimes like using or selling marijuana are not the same as murder. Your 'slippery slope' theory is laughable.

    Screw the law. 85% of Americans approve of medical marijuana and our 'representatives' do NOTHING about it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Consensual crimes like using or selling marijuana are not the same as murder.

    Externalities!

  • robc||

    Sweet! I got mine and Tulpa's entire back and forth without having to do anything, even the Jay reference showed up!

  • np||

    Kevin, you need to lurk more. What you wrote is all fine and good, but I suggest you look at the handle name of the dude you're replying to before getting worked up.

  • Pete Geller||

    Hey getting worked up might be good for him! He might not get enough exercise and the blood pressure spike from indignation could be beneficial...

    Then again I might be wrong as a football bat...

  • ||

    Dude, you're responding to a user named "sarcasmic" as if he were serious.

  • sarcasmic||

    Hey now! I'm serious once in a while! Really!

  • ||

    Yeah, serious about how fat of a girl John would screw. Beyond that, it's 50/50.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Sure would be 'nice' if our 'representatives' did 'NOTHING'.

  • kevin_hunt||

    Tips for becoming a stealth juror: If you are called up to perform jury duty in a marijuana case, you will be asked by the prosecutor if you would convict someone for a marijuana offense. Say "Maybe if the prosecutor can make a good case". During jury deliberations, vote not guilty. Do not give a personal reason for voting not guilty; just say that you don't think that the prosecution proved its case. Your vote will result in a hung jury which will force the prosecutor to offer the defendant a better plea deal or drop the charges altogether. If enough marijuana cases end in hung juries, prosecutors will not bother to try these cases. This strategy helped end alcohol prohibition.

  • creech||

    Why not give the other jurors a reason?
    Would you be prosecuted for lying during voir dire? Around here, I understand the usual question during voir dire is "Do you smoke, or have you ever smoked, marijuana?" How do you get around that one?

  • sarcasmic||

    So much for a jury of one's peers.

  • thom||

    You lie, like everybody else, because if people didn't lie on that question, it would take days to put together a jury for a pot case.

  • Zeb||

    So here's a question (one which may reveal my ignorance about how voire dire works). If the prosecution can keep everyone who has smoked pot off the jury, couldn't the defense just keep everyone who doesn't smoke out?

  • thom||

    Or, just lie your way on to the jury, and then once in the jury room argue that it would be wrong to put somebody away for smoking dope. Jurors can't be prosecuted for the substance of their deliberations, and you'll probably convert a few people.

    The consequences of this? None, whatsoever.

  • ||

    Filner looks like one of the aliens in Men in Black trying to fit into their skin suits

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Jury nullification is racist.

  • DaveAnthony||

    I really don't get those poll results. Only 6 % believe someone should serve jail time, but 48% think the federal government should be allowed, at least in some circumstances, to prosecute in states where marijuana has been legalized?

    What the fuck do people think happens when you are prosecuted by the federal government? A slap on the wrist? A stern talking to?

  • thom||

    The idea of prison is very abstract to most people. That's why prison sentences are so long. People don't really stop to think what it means to put somebody in prison for five or ten years for something. They also don't believe that any prosecutor would ever target them or somebody they know, since they're not the kind of person who get's involved in these things. Hence, the abstraction continues.

  • Adam.||

    That face will haunt my nightmares tonight.

  • Nicholas Sarwark||

    These fights between governments are the best part of marijuana legalization. When the Feds are fighting other governments and not just individual citizens, we're on the way to winning the war to legalize.

  • Firstname||

    This took a lot of guts from Mayor Filner. San Diego is a military town politically held hostage by huge amounts of federal money and the feds have pulled out all the stops there in their misguided "war on medical marijuana patients". Nowhere in California have they been more outrageously fighting against public will. They have inflicted undue harm on thousands of medical marijuana patients who depend on this valuable medication. They have enjoyed the full support of local law enforcement who love getting those big overtime pays from supporting DEA swat actions against the citizens they are sworn to protect. They have also intimidated local politicians with loosing funding of pet projects - until now. One politician has finally said: "ENOUGH!"

    Thank you Mayor Filner! We need more brave politicians like you to come forward and do the right thing.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Fight Prohibition with Jury Nullification!

    When called for jury duty on a case concerning a drug violation with no overt act of violence, do not convict! If the offender is non-violent, do not send them to prison! Another person in a federal or state prison for drugs is not going to make society any better or our families any safer, in fact, it WILL do the exact opposite.

    * It only takes one juror to prevent a guilty verdict.

    * You are not lawfully required to disclose your voting intention, ether before or after taking your seat on a jury.

    * You are also not required to give a reason to your fellow jurors on your position when voting—simply state that you find the accused not guilty.

    * Jurors must understand that it is their opinion, their vote. It is of no consequence If the Judge or the other jurors disapprove; there is no punishment for having a dissenting opinion.

    We must create what we can no longer afford to wait for: Please Vote To Acquit!

  • LifeStrategies||

    Right on! Publicize Jury Nullification and Vote to Acquit.

  • La Playa Heritage||

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCn8M_Xz8mU

    Mayor Filner and Ronny Chang's mother after the court hearing.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Maybe I'm getting cynical as I get older, but is anyone else a little surprised - and delighted - at a politician who seems to believe in freedom.

    Yet the Feds weren't unhappy about trial of "the case in front of the press" when they were the ones trying Wikileaks Julian Assange (who's only wanted for questioning without being charged with a crime)... Talk about double standards!

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