One Day Too Long

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This week a federal appeals court overturned the 2003 marijuana convictions of Ed Rosenthal, the "Guru of Ganja" who was nabbed by the feds for growing pot for patients in the San Francisco area. A 9th Circuit panel ruled that Rosenthal had been denied a fair trial because a juror, suspecting that the marijuana was intended for medical use, had called a lawyer friend of hers prior to the verdict to ask if she could consider matters the judge, Charles Breyer, had deemed irrelevant, such as California's law allowing the medical use of marijuana. The lawyer told her she could "get in trouble" if she did not follow Breyer's instructions. "Jurors cannot fairly determine the outcome of a case if they believe they will face 'trouble' for a conclusion they reach as jurors,"' the 9th Circuit said in its decision. "The threat of punishment works a coercive influence on the jury's independence."

Seven members of the jury publicly regretted their verdict after learning about the information Breyer had excluded: that Rosenthal was growing pot for medical use in compliance with state law and with the city of Oakland's official approval. Although Breyer ruled that none of that mattered under federal law, he concluded that Rosenthal honestly believed he was acting within the law and therefore gave him a token one-day sentence instead of the five-year mandatory minimum or the six and a half years requested by the prosecution. The government appealed the sentence, a decision it may now be regretting.

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  1. One Day Too Long..yea its long like my big dick thats in ur momma

  2. Well, I see someone has linked this to Free Republic.

  3. The Guru of Ganja.
    The Wizard of Weed.
    The Crown Prince of Chronic.
    The Mayor of Juana

    And so on…

  4. “Seven members of the jury publicly regretted their verdict after learning about the information Breyer had excluded…”

    Not a criticism, just an earnest observation: I find it amazing that here in the heat of the information age, seven human beings participating in a high-profile court case really DO manage to avoid consuming media coverage of the event, as asked.

  5. I want to know why no one has mentioned that the jurors wouldn’t have “gotten in trouble” to consider things the judge told them not to. It’s called jury nullification, and it’s fucked up that judges give instructions like that. It’s also fucked that the lawyer friend told her she would have.

    I may be mistaken, but you don’t have to say why you don’t believe someone is guilty really, do you?

  6. Three more:
    The Captain of Cannibis.
    The Swami of Spliff.
    The Potentate of Pot.

  7. Lowdog

    There was a case in Colorado(?) a few years ago where a juror was jailed for contempt for voting to aquit a drug offender.

    Does anyone else remember?

  8. I want to know why no one has mentioned that the jurors wouldn’t have “gotten in trouble” to consider things the judge told them not to. It’s called jury nullification, and it’s fucked up that judges give instructions like that. It’s also fucked that the lawyer friend told her she would have.

    Jury nullification folks such as the Fully-Informed Jury Association (http://www.fija.org/) tell the truth about what the law says. But I don’t think they fail to mention that the judges are the problem. Many/most judges believe, or at least act like they believe, that their “jury instructions” have the force of law. And a juror can indeed “get in trouble” for doing his or her duty, if the wrong judge is on the bench.

  9. Howsabout:

    The Wazir of Weed
    The Sultan of Sensimilla
    The King of Kind
    The High Prince of . . . well, just the High Prince

    Dang, I’ve got the munchies.

  10. There was a case in Colorado(?) a few years ago where a juror was jailed for contempt for voting to aquit a drug offender.

    Does anyone else remember?

    Yup. She correctly used her right of jury nullification and was found in contempt….for not volunteering personal information that nobody asked for.

    Paul Grant, Kriho’s lawyer, said Kriho is the first person to be convicted of “the newly minted crime of failure to volunteer information during jury selection.” Noting that Kriho was acquitted of perjury, Grant said, “No longer is it enough to honestly answer the questions you are asked — now you also have to answer the questions you were not asked, but that you ‘knew’ the judge wanted answered.”
    http://www.ndsn.org/marapr97/kriho.html

    Many/most judges believe, or at least act like they believe, that their “jury instructions” have the force of law.

    The instructions are falsehoods and the judges are liars.

  11. Well I’ll be damned…things are even more fucked than I thought.

    I did have another thought: while I’m thinking about jury nullification as being only a good thing for defendants…couldn’t the judge saying you should only rule on the facts presented in the case, yadda, yadda actually help the defendant, in that it would keep jurors from simply arbitrarily voting against you because they didn’t like how you looked? (And yes, I realise jurors do that all the time, anyway, just thinking “out loud” here.)

  12. Mr. F. Le Mur at April 28, 2006 12:32 PM

    Yes, thank you. That is indeed the case I was thinking of.

  13. Isaac Bertram,

    Her conviction was overturned.

    http://www.levellers.org/jrp/kriho.legal.htm

  14. Overturned or not, it’s still fucked up!

  15. Isaac Bertram,

    Most assuredly, but we can at least acknowledge that the outcome was just (though not the opening salvo).

  16. I guess I should read the article Hakluyt posted, but I was gonna ask – can you use jury nullification as your defence against contempt of court?


  17. There was a case in Colorado(?) a few years ago where a juror was jailed for contempt for voting to aquit a drug offender.

    That could be an effective weapon in the WOD, they should pass a law that makes it illegal to find a defendant guilty if he is charged with any crime having to do with drugs and there is a preponderint of evidence that he may have been guilty. We also need a law that makes it illegal to be suspected of drugs.

    We cannot forget that the drug users are commiting the most evil and imoral act by using drugs because drugs cause violince and support the terorists. Most crime, wether property or violint is caused buy drugs which is why they are illegil and we done gots to keep them that way.

    I think to stop drugs and terorism and solve the deficit we shood export our drug users for sale as slaves to any country what wants them. We no that we have got to export more for are trade balince to be more everer, and we done gots to stop the peoples from doing the drugs.

  18. It might also be a nice thing if defendants like Ed were allowed to present relevant mitigating evidence in their own defense at trial. Declaring that possessing a state issued license to grow marijuana is not relevant to the federal case is pure bullshit. Judge Breyer is nothing but a eunuch in a robe, first for kowtowing to the feds and railroading Rosenthal, then for the one-day sentence when the protesters stated filling the streets after the conviction.

    Once again the 9th circuit appears to be the sole friend of liberty in our judicial system. Still, like I said, a stronger ruling that defendants should be allowed to defend themselves, would have been nice.

  19. In related news, Mexico legalizes drugs for personal use:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,193616,00.html

  20. I loved how (jimmy)Joe’s spelling got worse as the post went on. As trolls go, that wasn’t half-bad.

  21. “I want to know why no one has mentioned that the jurors wouldn’t have ‘gotten in trouble’ to consider things the judge told them not to.”

    When I heard the story of the overturned conviction, I was rather amazed to hear, in addition, that the decision depended on a juror merely asking a lawyer whether it was necessary to go along with the judge, as if on rails. The lawyer said YES: you could get in trouble if you don’t do as the judge commands!

    The “jury misconduct” here was not in getting and acting on misinformation. If anything, the lawyer’s advice, though “misinformation” in the sense of being inconsistent with the right of juries to acquit as they see fit, went right along with the judge’s own instructions! The “misconduct” came merely from the juror asking the question!

    Although I can see the court’s point of view on this, I am still astounded at a system that would call the juror’s question, made obviously in an attempt to seek justice, “misconduct.” I am flabbergasted that the declaration of the question as “misconduct” is the necessary ingredient in securing justice for Mr. Rosenthal. This is one of the wackiest legal stories I have ever heard.

  22. I had heard of Fully Informed Jury Association before.
    So do juries use this? Are they in trouble when they try to use it? Is the following jury nullification?
    When they believe justice requires it, jurors can refuse to apply the law. Jurors have the power to consider whether the law itself is wrong (including whether it is “unconstitutional”), or is being applied for political reasons. Is the defendant being singled out as “an example” in order to demonstrate government muscle? Were the defendant’s constitutional rights violated during the arrest? Much of today’s “crime wave” consists of victimless crimes–crimes against the state, or “political crimes”, so if you feel that a verdict of guilty would give the government too much power, or help keep a bad law alive, just remember that you can refuse to apply any law that violates your conscience.

    Isn’t that essentially saying even though a defendant is “guilty” we (jury) won’t convict him/her?

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