Occasionally, Jury Nullification Works Out For The Better

Jury nullification, where a jury decides to find someone innocent of a crime even though it is obvious to everyone including the jurors, has an odious history in the U.S., since it was overwhelmingly used to set free people who committed violence–including murder–against racial and religious minorities. But sometimes, it works out alright (boldface mine):

Prosecutors in Georgia may have thought they had a slam-dunk case when the defendant confessed to police and in court, but jurors refused to convict on a felony charge for a man growing marijuana for his own personal, medicinal use.

Javonnie McCoy was “caught red-handed” with nearly a pound of marijuana, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Bill Torpy reported Friday.

“He admitted it to police, and later he looked jurors in the eye and said, yep, it was mine. I used it as medicine,” Torpy explained. “The jurors let him go. He was minding his own business and wasn’t hurting anybody, they reasoned. He just doesn’t belong in prison.”

…Torpy spoke to jurors about why they refused to convict despite the confession.

“He was believable,” juror Lizzie Mae Davis said. “He wasn’t trying to make money. He had it to ease his health.”

“Sometimes good things happen to good people,” juror Brian Loyd suggested.

Juror Kenneth Thompson explained, “a lot of us said he wasn’t bothering anybody.”

This is not the best way to curb the excesses of the War on (Some People Who Use Certain) Drugs, but one takes victories where one can I suppose.

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