By Brent Daggett | theintelhub
In 1782, Thomas Jefferson wrote in his tome, Notes on the State of Virginia, “it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact, and to refer the law arising on it to the decision of the judges.
But this division of the subject lies with their discretion only.
And if the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both law and fact.”
This may seem like an antiquated statement, especially given our current state of affairs regarding unconstitutional laws, however the application of jury nullification is making its way back to the forefront.
On June 18, 2012 Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire signed HB 146, which reads:
“In all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.”
In other words, jurors have the right not only to be informed of jury nullification, but have the right to nullify a law if they have reason to believe the law itself is corrupt.
Even though the law does not go into effect until next January, jury nullification in New Hampshire has already occurred.
In 2009, Rastafarian Doug Darrell, of New Hampshire, was arrested after members of a marijuana eradication task force spotted plants from a National Guard helicopter flying over Darrell’s home in Barnstead.
Darrell’s lawyer, Mark Sisti, attempted to get the evidence suppressed, but to no avail, arguing the aerial surveillance was illegal, since the helicopter was below the Federal Aviation Administration of safe altitude, thus violating Darrell’s privacy.
Long story short, Darrell turned down all plea deals (he had 15 plants and did not even distribute), due to the fact he believed he did nothing wrong since marijuana is a sacrament in his religion and was cultivating it for medicinal use.
In Darrell’s second trial, which took place last month, he was acquitted and if he was convicted, Darrell could have received three and a half to seven years in prison for a Class B felony.
NH is not the only state practicing jury nullification.
In September, organic egg producer Alvin Schlangen of central Minnesota faced three misdemeanors of distributing unpasteurized milk, operating without a food handlers license and handling adulterated food.
Minnesota law prohibits the sale of raw milk “except directly to consumers on the farm when it’s produced.”
After a deliberation of 4 and a half hours, the six panel jury ruled not guilty on all three counts in Hennepin County District Court.
However, Schlangen is not completely out of the woods, as he is facing the same charges in Stearns County on November 2.
With these most recent cases, jury nullification is not some new revelation.