Jury Nullification – An Underused Weapon For All
Less than a week apart, the use of Jury Nullification has reigned victorious in two completely victimless crimes. One of the cases was over raw milk in Minnesota and one was over marijuana in New Hampshire. The topper on the cake for the case in NH was that one of the jurors was a Free State Project participant.
Jury Nullification is a little known right that we as citizens, and in turn jurors, have in order to be a check against the government enforcing bad laws. It is a relatively simple concept. If you are on a jury and you know beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant broke the letter of the law, you can still vote ‘not guilty’ if you don’t believe that the law should even exist in the first place. This is starting to be used more in victimless crimes, mostly in regards to drugs.
This past week a Minnesota jury exercised their right to jury nullification when they handed down a ‘not guilty’ verdict to a farmer for charges stemming from raw milk. RAW MILK! In many states in this country it is ILLEGAL to sell raw milk or raw milk products, like cheese and yogurt. Alvin Schlangen was found not guilty of selling unpasteurized milk, operating without a food license and handling adulterated or misbranded food. (How is raw milk considered “adulterated”? Isn’t pasteurized milk the product that is actually adulterated?) The jury did the right thing in sending a message that prosecuting people for simply having milk is ridiculous. This is a perfect example that everyone in this country needs to know when it comes to the citizenry fighting back against those who claim to have rule over us.
Two weeks ago a New Hampshire jury nullified the case against Doug Darrell, a Rastafarian, charged with and completely guilty of (according to what the law says) manufacturing (read ‘growing’) marijuana. Darrell was observed to have 15 marijuana plants growing on his property by a National Guard helicopter flying over his land while working with the NH State Police. (On a side note, why is the National Guard being used for domestic operations that are not defensive?) This isn’t the first marijuana case to experience a jury nullification but it’s one of the biggest to make it all the way through trial to then get nullified. In one previous case a jury pool couldn’t even be put together because everyone said that they wouldn’t even consider voting guilty for someone who was caught with marijuana, or selling it for that matter. The case was dismissed before the trial even started.
Many have started to do Jury Outreach and hand out literature to prospective jurors outside courthouses so they know their rights. Some good literature and information can be found at FIJA.org (the Fully Informed Jury Association). Jury nullification is the last check on the government. Don’t be afraid to exercise your right to nullify bad laws. You can not be punished by the state for not going along with their aggression against peaceful people. The above two cases had no victims and even the jurors said in Doug Darrell’s case, “Mr. Darrell seemed to be the only victim here.”