Criminal Justice

Prosecutor Defeated by Glaring Stupidity of Pot Laws


A Kansas defense attorney reports:

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! 

Not quite jury nullification, but close. Something similar happened in Montana a couple of years ago.

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  1. Excellent! Now, I don’t want to harsh anyone’s mellow, but was this a university town, like the story from Charlottesville, Va?

    1. You are probably correct that it is a university town. Where else could you find such an educated jury?

  2. I would have loved to witness this.

    1. Serve more jury duty, Pauly Shore, and maybe you will.

      1. I’ve never been called to serve the cause of justice, unless you count my late night vigilantism (and no one really ever calls for me, I just do). And I’ve been a registered voter since I turned 18, which was last year (if you go just by my virility).

        1. The start of your comment had so much promise: I’ve never been called…

          I fully expected to read Pauly Shore followed by some rambling insanity.


          1. Well, he’s got the buff spikes chillin’ on top of his melon, obviously, right? Dude, he’s checking her cheeks! Oh oh! He’s got the serious beak, and his own personal holding company full of fundage, bro, that he weases off of ma…ma…

            1. Dude was just wheezin the juice, you know?

              1. The truth is bro, life’s about greasing the ‘do back, buddy, and wheezin’ on the buff-fest, man. High school was interesting, alright? It was kinda like a harsh ride. Ah, ah…

        2. You’re Batman?!?

          Oh wait, you’re just The Coon.

          1. That reminds me of one of my long standing gripes with South Park; What fucking 9-year old still rides a Big Wheel? They should have bikes! They’re not toddlers.

            1. They’re hipster 9 year olds. They are being Ironic.

            2. The fifth graders ride bikes and harass them if they do.

              Also, it’s a cartoon.

            3. Do you have any idea how hard it is to animate a 2 wheeler?

            4. Cartman rides one because he is a pussy, as also shown by the stuffed animals.

              1. Would he not ride one if he were a bow-wow?

        3. (if you go just by my virility

          If we’re judging by virility, I’m 17.

          1. I turn 3 next may.

        4. Registered voter for 37 years and never been called.

          1. Seven times, man. Seven.

          2. I was lucky on one case I caught cause the guy hung himself in his cell before the trial started. He was already convicted of murder for killing his business partner, and the trial was over formalities involving property.

          3. I was called to jury duty in MD a year after I had moved to Kentucky. As tempting as it was to take a 700 mile trip on the off chance I might get to monkey wrench an injustice in progress I regretfully sent them a note explaining that I was no longer a MD resident, with a photocopy of my Kentucky driver’s license.

  3. That’s the best outcome at that point for that defendant. But it would be better for society for the court to waste a couple of days or weeks and then have a unanimous not guilty verdict.

    1. …not to mention attorney’s fees…

  4. I keep telling people that middle class white people are more fed up with cops and laws than the media would have you believe. Most of my family lives in Kansas and they all are classic law and order middle class types. But none of them have any use for cops and think the laws are out of control.

    1. I’ve been saying for years that when the cops lost (lose?) the support (reliable constituency) of dumpy,gun-owning middle class white men, that there’s going to be trouble for the police.

      1. Read some time.

        Full of dumpy, white, gun owning cop haters.

  5. Fucking love it!

  6. This is a very encouraging story. With news of stuff like this, and the recent Gallup poll showing for the first time majority support for legalization, it seems like the war on weed is finally winding down. But if it takes almost a century to stop violently suppressing people’s freedom to own and use a near-harmless plant, then how long will we have to wait for reform of other drug policy?

    1. Or it would be winding down if our ruling elite class actually cared what the majority of us serfs think. They don’t and they are wasting no effort in proving it more with each passing day.

    2. A mere blink of an eye in the time of existence of humankind.

  7. Very encouraging.

  8. Kick ass. I wonder if there was a FIJA carpet bombing, or if this was a real spontaneous mutiny?

    Also, this makes me wonder what the optimal strategy as a libertarian-en-voir-dire is (assuming your want to maximize net liberty or something like that, not assuming you either want to be on the jury or off the jury just for being on or off the jury).

    I’d always figured the optimal strategy was to do whatever you had/were willing to do to get on the jury, then nullify if appropriate. Maybe it is actually more effective to try to “taint” the jury pool by answering completely honestly. Maybe sometimes, like in this case, you wouldn’t be tainting it so much as showing other people it’s OK to disdain the naked fucking emperor. A nice succinct and vague answer like “No Sir, I won’t swear to value your legality over my morality, that’d obviously be immoral. I didn’t know immorality was a prerequisite.”, might be all it takes to get other people thinkin.

    1. I’ve done both. In one case, I didn’t have to do much in the way of tainting; the prosecutor did it for me, and I just asked her for clarif’n, incredulously, while playing dumb myself. She actually implied that repealing narcotics laws would be a good thing, and seemed to be getting as close as she could to that point without being ruled in contempt of court. I’ve been told by others I described that voir dire to that she was probably drawing us out on that point; I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem to me she’d want to do that for purposes of winning a case.

      The other time (federal narcotics case) I just lied and hung the jury. The judge said afterward the case would not be re-heard.

    2. Unless an open revolt was in progress during voir dire the best strategy is to get on the jury and then hang it or persuade it into acquittal. The problem with voir dire revolts is that the sneaky cocksuckers in the ‘justice’ system can calibrate to their instructions to the jury pool to eliminate that happening in the future. But they absolutely hate losing cases and even a few back to back losses will lead them to not pursue similar cases in the future.

  9. The great thing about this humiliation is that DAs are often very sensitive about their “stats”. This guy will probably be very hesitant to bring more pot cases to trial.

    1. Except according to the story the prosecutor dismissed the case. I think that means it didn’t actually go to trial.

  10. This is awesome. A majority of us need to go into full rebellion against the entire WOD fiasco.

  11. This story is fuckin awesome, but how did these jurors make it past the selection process?

    1. They undoubtedly lied. Either that or the details of the case weren’t given to them. Like they were told “it’s a drug possession charge”.

      It’s been years since I’ve been called up for Jury Duty so I don’t remember the process. But I’m guessing it wasn’t until they actually heard the case that they realized how retarded the whole thing was.

    2. According to the quote, this occurred during voir dire. Voir dire *is* the selection process.

  12. I am assuming that none of the jurors had children. Because for some reason, no matter how reasonable a person is, after they have children they go full on retard when it comes to drug prohibition. Because you know that if pot is legalized, then scary drug pushers will be prowling playgrounds trying to force the children to shoot up heroin.

    1. Speak for yourself. I was anti-drug war before I became a parent. I’m even more anti-drug war now.

      1. So was I, and so am I. The thing is, is that I wasn’t speaking for myself, but for a lot of other people.

        If you know someone who claims to be Libertarian and you really want to learn quickly just how Libertarian they really are, just ask them this question:

        So, are you in favor legalizing all drugs? Wait for the response after the deer in the headlights stare and stammering around stops.

        1. The only drugs I might favor retaining some level of legal restriction on is anti-biotics. Mostly because there are enough idiots out there who would try to self medicate every sniffle away leading to more super germs that we would all have to deal with.

          Out side of that however I cannot imagine any reason to ban possession or use of any substance for any other reason.

          1. In a lot of countries, people do self medicate. I know when I have a bacterial infection and need antibiotics. It annoys the hell out of me that I need to pay a big office call bill so that a doctor can tell me I need amoxcillin for my throat infection. Which is why I buy it in another country and keep it around just in case.

            1. I need to back up Rasilio on this. You, Hyperion, may be able to tell when you have a bacterial infection (although, without labs I have no idea how you determine what kind of bacteria you’re dealing with since different types of antibiotics are needed to treat different types of bacteria), but most people cannot. I regularly have patients at the hospital asking for antibiotics for a cold.

              1. Given the resistance that so many bacteria are showing to antibiotics this exception is going to be made moot when just have nanobots to fight to diseases.

              2. Hyperion has no idea when he does and when he doesn’t have a bacterial throat infection and neither does his doctor without a lab test. It is simply impossible to clinically distinguish bacterial from viral throat infections. Another vote here for Rasilio.

                1. Right, but the doc still sends you home with a script for amoxicillin before the lab tests come back.

                  1. Many of them are so tired of arguing with patients (most of them) who insist on having antibiotics for their sore throats – 75% of which are viral etiology – that they just give in. Doing the lab test after treating is nonsense but it is done by some doctors for some reason. None of this is particularly admirable.

                    1. Another vote for Rosilio. Antibiotics should be tightly controlled in use and disposal. Not only do they engender resistance, they encourage bacteria to spread it around by sex.

              3. I’ve TWICE had doctors give me antibiotics for a viral infection. I didn’t question either time, even though it bugged the crap out of me. I’m not sure what it says, but…it DID bug the crap out of me.

    2. Lol I used to be ambivalent with regards to the drug war, then I had kids and realized the possibility that they might some day be tempted to try them and get caught, instantly I was rabidly anti drug war.

      As for drugs themselves, never tried them, have no interest in ever trying them, and would rather my kids never try them but it is their bodies and their lives and once they are old enough to make those decisions my wishes don’t much matter (I still won’t allow em in my house however)

      1. Yeah, I can pretty much assure you and anyone else that prison will be worse for your kids than marijuana.

        1. I’d go a step further and say that prison will be worse for anyone’s kid than pretty much any drug (taken in moderation).

      2. That’s where I am on it. I stopped smoking pot about 25 years ago. It makes me sneeze badly…

        Odds are my kids will do drugs eventually and I ‘d hate to have to get the family together to kill some stupid SOB for violating my kid’s rights due to their fevered war on drugs.

        BTW, I am a registered Republican.

    3. Not if their kids are teens.

  13. I suspect it was one brave, outspoken juror who lit the fuse.

    He was probably as surprised as anybody when it went “Boom”.

    1. Sounds like a likely scenario. There should be more brave souls speaking out in our society.

    2. I tried when i was called for the same thing. I said I knew the victim…since they stated the society was the victim and I was society…Didn’t make it on obviously and no boom either, more of a “have a nice day” reaction.

  14. whoa- how can they tax the guys drugs? anyone explain this?

    1. There was a marijuana tax act thing that they passed way back in the 30s at the federal level, I think, but I also think that it was repealed. Maybe it was some type of state law?

      1. FDR’s proudest progressive policy moment.

        1. Heh, my first thought was “Wait, what about the income tax!?” Then I realized that was Woodrow Wilson.

          Holy fuck I’m a nerd.

    2. Texas used to (as of 2000 or so) have a marijuana tax stamp. But I never heard of anyone having non-payment of taxes brought against them, so up to a couple of lbs, the prosecutors weren’t after you for that.

      1. The history channel had a special on MJ and the tax stamp was required to sell it, but it was illegal to sell it so when you applied for the tax stamp you could go to jail. But if you did not apply and did not pay taxes, then you could go to jail.

        Isn’t there a phrase they use for this kind of impossible logic? A number or something?

        1. Catch 22? Sounds about right.

    3. It’s very common; it’s considered property. Unless you’ve outright claimed it on your taxes (which you’d be an idiot to do), the state and fed govts can always tell you to pay taxes on the property since you didn’t pay any when you acquired it.

      In NC, the tax liability for getting caught with any more than a quarter-pound is far worse than any sentence you’ll get.

    4. Ask Al Capone. Treasury Agent Frank Wilson nailed him for not paying income tax on his prohibition proceeds.

  15. Surprising that Reason would provide an undocumented quote as “news”.

    It is likely someone is pulling Mr Sullum leg. Let’s see if Reason can document this “news”.

  16. I mean, last time I was in the jury pool in voir dire, it was a cocaine possession with intent to distribute case and even there about 1/4 people (myself included) said they wouldn’t vote to convict because it was a victimless crime and people shouldn’t be put in jail for drug possession. The judge had to tell me to STFU when I gave my reasoning. He also wouldn’t let me speak from then on, yet made me sit around for four more hours even though he made perfectly clear I already disqualified myself.

    1. The old Big Fish in a little pond syndrome. Legal bullying, plain and simple.

  17. Voir dire turned into oh dear for that prosecutor.

    (Go ahead, use that. You know you want to.)

  18. Not quite jury nullification, but close.

    Actually it IS jury nullification. FIJA folks have bullshit in their heads that a jury can vote to nullify a law, but in fact all a jury can do is vote guilty or not. On a good day you might get a statement from the jury foreman about how ridiculous it all is, but that’s it.

    1. The typical jury nullification scenario involves the verdict, not voir dire.

    2. This sounds like an odd semantic argument. The jury is, exactly, nullifying the law if they find someone not guilty of violating the law regardless of what it says or what they did. That’s really what nullification (common noun) is. It made the law null–for that trial.

  19. What part of Kansas was this?

  20. Has Tony seen this yet? I imagine this sort of open defiance of The Glorious State would give him a stroke.

  21. I’m a bit skeptical about a claim from an anonymous attorney in Kansas. Could Sullum back this story up with the name of the defendant or perhaps the date and location of this case?

  22. Wow! and this is Kansas! This might finally be the beginning of the end, at least for pot.

  23. Legalize and Regulate!
    If they really cared for the children they’d legalize and regulate marijuana. If they really wanted to keep any substance out of the hands of “The Children” they first must take control of distribution away from black market dealers. They haven’t accomplished that in 40+ years at a taxpayers cost in the hundreds of billions. It’s time to treat marijuana as we do alcohol. My 27 year old daughter still gets carded when she buys alcohol, yet your 13 year old can buy anything the black market dealer has for a price whether it be money or “something else”.
    FACT: Your kids have a better chance dying at the hands of someone enforcing marijuana laws than they do from ingesting it.(ZERO %). The laws are not there to protect your kids, they’re there to arrest and punish them! Scientific Proof Marijuna is not a Gateway drug!…..marijua…
    LEAP member, NYPD, ret.

  24. Yes, there is some normal people around these days.

  25. Has there been any corroboration of this story yet? Who? Where? When?

  26. I practice criminal defense law in Kansas, and I don’t believe this story. They bring in jury pools of a hundred people at a time, and then they choose 12 out of that pool for a felony (which is what this looks like, since there was a marijuana tax charge in addition to the possession charge(s)). If the jury does as reported, they would be excused en masse, and a different set selected. I can’t think of a prosecutor who would dismiss a case like this with prejudice based on this kind of event. The most likely outcome is that another batch of 12 would be chosen, and the voir dire process would occur again. I’d like to know exactly where this happened, what prosecutor, and what judge. Either supply details, or it’s BS.

    1. Could this be a strategic defeat?

      I imagine that there are a few prosecutors and judges who would like to change things, and a publicity stunt like this might just do the trick – especially if it won’t count as a loss for the prosecutor’s stats.

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