Montana Jury Refuses to Convict a Man for Marijuana Possession
Posted on January 18 2016
This is an interesting case study from Montana, a traditionally fairly Conservative State. A man arrested with possession of a very small amount of marijuana - a 16th of an ounce - has his case dismissed before ever reaching trial.
The reason being, in the pre-trials - where a jury is decided - the Judge declared that he could not see a jury being willing to convict the man. In the pre-trial interviews, before the jury even knew who the man was or what crime he had committed, one potential jury member after another (for a substantial enough amount to dismiss the case) said they would not be willing to find a person guilty for only having a small amount of marijuana in their possession.
As the Judge could not get the jurors together, at least not a jury that could in theory come down on both sides of the verdict, the case was given a recess, during which time a plea deal was agreed upon and the man in question never admitted any guilt. The Judge said that in his thirty years of serving he had never seen a case like it.
So what does this show? Well, it shows that a substantial amount of the population in Montana objectively believes that a person should not be found guilty of a small amount of possession. Perhaps this may have changed should the case have been taken to trial, but that the Judge could not assemble a jury reflects a fairly strong belief on the part of the Montana population. It also shows the power of ‘rational thinking’ to override State Law, if only on a small scale. It might be an extreme case, but that it exists may reflect a change in perspective that continues to challenge such laws. Could it eventually be seen as a catalyst for actual change?