Potential Jury Nullifies Law Before Even Being Seated, Eliminating Drug Trial
Posted Dec 20, 2010 2:02 PM CST
By Martha Neil
An accused drug-dealer caught a break in court last week, when a group of potential jurors in Montana revolted against an unpopular marijuana law.
No way could they convict anybody of a crime for having a couple of buds of marijuana--less than a fifth of an ounce, they told the judge in the Missoula County District Court case. And “I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,’ ” Judge Dusty Deschamps tells Missoulian.
And, in fact, he didn't: Deschamps called a recess and a lawyer for Touray Cornell worked out a plea deal with the prosecutor in the case.
Although Cornell had originally been accused of dealing drugs and had a felony record, too, the newspaper says, the potential jury members didn't know that as they objected to the marijuana law under which he was also charged.
Meanwhile, all concerned have taken note of the difficulty enforcing the state's marijuana law.
Even if other individuals who didn't object to the law had been put on the jury, “I think that poses a real challenge in proceeding,” says Deschamps. “Are we really seating a jury of their peers if we just leave people on who are militant on the subject?”