A former federal prosecutor calls upon people, if they serve on a jury, to use nullification as a means to change marijuana laws. He uses the case of Julian P. Heicklen, which I have discussed before.
If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.
Jury nullification is not new; its proponents have included John Hancock and John Adams.
The doctrine is premised on the idea that ordinary citizens, not government officials, should have the final say as to whether a person should be punished. As Adams put it, it is each juror’s “duty” to vote based on his or her “own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
He points out that, “How one feels about jury nullification ultimately depends on how much confidence one has in the jury system. Based on my experience, I trust jurors a lot.”
I agree with him.