Jury Nullification Cited as Reason Not to Charge State Rep for Buying Cannabis

Rick Naya, NH Hempfest Organizer and Joe Lachance

Rick Naya, NH Hempfest Organizer and State Rep Joe Lachance

The Attorney General’s office in New Hampshire has released a report regarding their investigation of claims that former state representative Kyle Tasker had sold cannabis at the NH state house in Concord, to other state representatives. Several liberty-oriented state reps including Amanda Bouldin, Joe Lachance, Pam Tucker, Ted Wright, and the late Shem Kellogg were all investigated by the AG’s office but none will be charged.

The report details the investigations of each state rep and though they believed they had a case for “dry conspiracy” charges against both former-cop-turned-LEAP speaker Lachance and Tasker, they used their discretion and decided not to charge them. The report specifically cites jury nullification when giving their explanation as to why they aren’t charging Lachance – that’s great news for activists who’ve been doing jury nullification outreach here in the Shire for years.

Jury nullification is the long-held right of jurors to vote their conscience, regardless of what the law says and the facts in the case are. Though Lachance clearly broke the law, each juror has the right to acquit simply because they believe the law is bad. It’s a powerful right and courts around the country as well as the federal courts will do everything they can to keep jurors from knowing about it. However, here in New Hampshire is established court precedent that not only can jury nullification information be given to jurors outside the court, but even defendants and attorneys can explain nullification during trial!

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The NH attorney general doesn’t like jury nullification, as it’s a threat to their power. They appear however to have realized that the changing political tides regarding cannabis legalization plus jurors’ awareness of nullification would likely mean they were wasting their time prosecuting Lachance. They also say in the report that a jury would likely reject “dry conspiracy” charges for Tasker as well (who is facing various felonies for other victimless crimes) and say his other charges will suffice to, “hold him accountable for his drug crimes”. Of course, there are no victims in those “drug crimes” which include possession and sale of cannabis, MDMA, and mushrooms and so Tasker should also not be charged with them, and neither should anyone else.

That’s really the question here – if the NH AG acknowledges that cannabis charges are likely to not pass a jury due to nullification, then why don’t they treat every person caught with cannabis the same way they did the state reps? The reason is they know most people will quietly take a plea deal and further, if they don’t take the deal, they can drop the charge to a class B misdemeanor which means the defendant can’t get a jury trial, virtually guaranteeing a guilty verdict and hundreds of dollars (per victim) flowing to the state’s coffers. Cannabis prohibition means big money for the state gang, so they’ll keep charging the little people until the law is changed. Hopefully that will happen in 2017 if the new governor doesn’t stand in the way, whoever it ends up being.

Video of the Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention 2015

Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention 2015

The First Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention

NH Jury board member James Davis headed up Keenevention‘s first-ever panel on some of 2015’s hottest activism – jury nullification. Nullification outreach really took off in 2015, spreading from Keene and Grafton to six other courthouses across the state.

Where do we go from here? Expert jury outreach panelists included Rich Paul of the Church of the Invisible Hand, Cathleen Converse who successfully nullified charges against a cannabis grower, Derrick J Freeman of Flaming Freedom, and Ian Freeman of Free Keene.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9MHc4mDY70

Stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more videos weekly and other media from the event. You can also follow the new Keenevention Twitter and Keenevention’s facebook page.

NH Jury Activists Bring Message to Potential Jurors for James Cleaveland’s Recording Cops Trial

NH Jury Activists Outside Cheshire Superior Court

NH Jury Activists Outside Cheshire Superior Court

NH Jury activists gathered this morning outside Cheshire superior court in Keene to perform jury outreach prior to jury selection for the trial of James Cleaveland which begins tomorrow morning (Tuesday 12/15) at 9am.

James is facing two “Class A” misdemeanor charges with a possibility of up to two years in prison for being arrested while recording video of police at the scene of a suicidal man in the summer of 2014. The charges are “disorderly conduct” (the state’s favorite catch-all charge) and “resisting arrest”.

James has already had a bench trial at Keene district court, the video of which can be seen here, and was found guilty. District court judge Edward J Burke sentenced him to 1.5 years in jail, suspended, plus a $625 fine. After sentencing, James opted for his right to a jury trial “de novo”, which means, “from the beginning”. So now, not quite a year later, he is being given that trial.

This morning was jury selection. Nearly all of the jury pool of about 58 people had received the NH Jury trifold last month. (In Cheshire county, petit juries are empaneled for two months.) Usually the jury outreach process involves handing out flyers and opening the door for folks, but in addition today it included activists holding signs featuring phrases like, “2 Years 4 Filming?”, and “Filming the police is not a crime!”

More activists are expected to be on-the-scene tomorrow morning at 8am for further sign-holding, with the trial starting at 9am and expected to last two days. If you can’t make it in person, live tweets will be available at FreeKeene.com and later the full video will also be posted to Free Keene.

Announcing the First-Ever Jury Nullification Panel @ Keenevention 2015

Jury Nullification Panel 2015NH Jury board member James Davis heads up this first-ever panel on some of 2015’s hottest activism – jury nullification. Nullification outreach has taken off this year, spreading from Keene and Grafton to six other locations across the state. Where do we go from here? Panelists to include Rich Paul of the Church of the Invisible Hand, Cathleen Converse who successfully nullified charges against a cannabis grower, Derrick J Freeman of Flaming Freedom, and Ian Freeman of Free Keene.

Keenevention is Hallowkeene weekend, October 30th through November 1st. Tickets for the third-annual Keenevention are just $60 or BTC for the whole weekend, including the Hallowkeene costume dance party! Pre-event ticketing is limited to 100, so lock yours in now.

Stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more announcements. You can also follow the new Keenevention Twitter, Keenevention’s facebook page and join the official facebook event here.

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