To seat a 12-person jury, Judge Robert L. Deschamps III of Missoula County District Court had called a passel of Montanans to serve, and 27 had arrived at court on Dec. 16. So far, so good.A spokesman for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws is quoted in the Missoulian Independent (alternative weekly):
But after the charges were read, one of the jurors raised a hand.
“She said, ‘I’ve got a real problem with these marijuana cases,’ ” Judge Deschamps recalled on Wednesday. “And after she got through, a couple more raised their hands.” All told, five jurors raised questions about marijuana prosecution.
And so it was that Mr. Cornell soon became the lucky recipient of a case of almost-a-jury nullification, as prosecutors soon found themselves cutting a deal to dismiss the misdemeanor possession charge out of fear that they would not be able to find 12 jurors in this marijuana-friendly state to convict.
Allen St. Pierre, director of NORML, says potential jurors nearly nullifiying a case because many of them refused to convict someone for possessing a small amount of marijuana suggests Montanans have rediscovered their right to buck an unjust law.Note - the FIJA movement (Fully Informed Jury Amendment), was started in Montana in the late 1980s by then Libertarian Party State Chairman Larry Dodge.
“Going back to the founding of this country," he tells the Indy, "if [someone is] sitting in judgment of fellow citizens, you as a juror always have the right and responsibility to either convict or not convict them—and not convicting them you can do if the law itself is a bad law, if it doesn’t make any sense."