59-year-old Rastafarian Doug Darrell was arrested in 2009, after a National Guard helicopter flying over his home found 15 marijuana plants growing in his backyard. On Friday he was acquitted of all charges through jury nullification; in other words, the jury decided not to convict him because they disagree with the law under which he was charged or don’t think a conviction would be fair for some other reason.
While most juries are not informed of their right not to convict if they do not agree with the law, Darrell’s jury was. Read the jury instructions at one point: “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.”
Darrell’s attorney had argued that his client’s conviction would be unfair since the marijuana he was growing was for personal and religious use.
“Mr. Darrell is a peaceful man,” one of the jurors said of the defendant. “He grows for his own personal religious and medicinal use. I knew that my community would be poorer rather than better off had he been convicted.” The jury only took 6 hours to unanimously acquit on all charges.
Jury nullification is something that every potential juror needs to know about. Spread the word!