Jury Nullification Ballot Initiative in California 1/9/98

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This week in Buena Park California, Reverend Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church announced plans to launch a ballot drive to place on the ballot an initiative aimed at giving jurors the option to reject unjust laws. The measure, if passed, would require judges to instruct jurors that they have the right "to acquit the defendant, or find him/her not liable for damages" if they, the jury, find that a law is unjust or that the application of it would be unjust.

Drake and the First Southern Baptist Church were each found guilty in July 1997 of four misdemeanor counts of violating city laws by housing the homeless at the church. The pastor claims that jurors on the case later apologized "for their misguided conviction" in the case.

This is not the first time that the doctrine of "jury nullification" has been touted as a citizen-based solution to fighting unjust laws. Law school professor Paul Butler from the George Washington University Law School has been teaching his students jury nullification for years as a way to fight unjust drug laws which he feels disproportionately target African Americans and other minorities. Many critics of jury nullification say that if passed this initiative would be found unconstitutional because it violates a person's right to equal protection under the law.

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Issue #24, 1/9/98 A Look Ahead at 1998 | War on Patients to Escalate: Federal Government Announces Plan to Raid Cannabis Buyers' Clubs | DRCNet Exclusive!! British Euro-MP's Ordered by Blair to Vote Against Commission Recommendations for EU Drug Policy | Ann Landers, Anthony Lewis Trash Drug War: DRCNet subscribers are urged to respond! | Candle Correction | Giuliani Pledges a "Drug Free New York" | Heroin in New England -- Cheaper, Purer Than Ever | Federal Anti-Drug Ad Campaign to Hit Airwaves | America "Works With" Her International Partner | US Counternarcotics Base to Replace Air Force Base When Panama Canal is Turned Over | Signature Drive Underway for Industrial Hemp Ballot Initiative in California | UK: Home Secretary's Son Found Dealing Cannabis, Legaliation Debate Rages | Australian Cops: "Policign is not the Answer" | "Smoke a Joint, Lose a Limb?:" Pending Mississippi Bill Threatens Dismemberment For Convicted Drug Violators | Student Suspension Overturned | Jury Nullification Ballot Initiative in California | Job Opportunity at DPF | Editorial: A "Drug Free New York?" C'mon Rudy
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