A NH judge says feel free to ignore the [bad] law if you have a conscientious feeling
by, 09-24-2012 at 12:15 PM (1386 Views)
You may remember when HB 146, a bill designed to inform juries of their right to nullify a law is specific incidences, was signed by the governor of New Hampshire in June. Libertarian websites such as Lewrockwell.com, Reason.com and Cato were claiming that the law was an historic win for the jury nullification world and may change the nature of criminal court as we know it.
The big question was how far would a judge let a defense attorney go when arguing jury nullification. Would a defense attorney be forced to talk about the issue in legalese? Would a defense attorney be allowed to talk about it in plain language?
The big news is that not only a defense attorney but even the judge mentioned the concept of jury nullification in a recent New Hampshire case. The judge instructed the jury on the issue in plain language. According to the Union Leader, the judge said "even if you find that the State has proven each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find the defendant not guilty if you have a conscientious feeling that a not guilty verdict would be a fair result in this case.”
According to the article, most jurors thought the defendant was guilty of manufacturing marijuana. After all, the police and the Massachusetts National Guard helicopter found 18 plants on the man's property. However, the jury decided to nullify and found the man innocent.
The jury’s action has made Cathleen Converse, a little old lady on the jury who moved to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project, into a sort of folk hero for the liberty movement. Converse told the Union Leader, “it’s a little bigger than I’m comfortable with, to tell you the truth."