Things down south, back east… or however you want to classify Charlottesville, Va., are starting to get interesting on the critical thinking front. A group of commonsense minded jurors, no doubt from the younger demographics with the state, just found Philip Cobbs not guilty of marijuana cultivation. Who is Philip Cobbs you ask? He is you, me and very other American that has ever dared to follow their heart, rather than bow before a moronic law, that is based on irrational fear and with vicious life altering ramification.
Cobbs, a 54-year-old who takes care of his elderly mother, was arrested last summer after a marijuana eradication helicopter flew over his southeastern Albemarle home and spotted two pot plants near his house. A team of approximately 10 law enforcement agents drove up bearing semi-automatic weapons and confiscated the illegal pot plants. A month later, he received a summons to court.
His case was taken up by the Albemarle-based Rutherford Institute, which focuses on Constitutional issues. Cobb was convicted of possession in October, and appealed the case.
“I feel like justice finally was done,” said Cobbs after a seven-person jury deliberated for about two hours– including a dinner of Domino’s pizza–July 18.
How is this in anyway an appropriate use of force and resources? This little old man was cultivating 2 pot plants. The local police response… in essence a swat team of 10 heavily armed policemen? Somebody has got to be kidding me. Markedly cognizant of their laps in ‘judgment’… on a laughably weak case, the local prosecuting attorney rightfully dreaded the possibility of jury nullification.
Before the jury was selected, prosecutor Matthew Quatrara read the opening paragraph of a New York Times Paul Butler op-ed calling for jury nullification: “If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote ‘not guilty’– even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.”
That, instructed Quatrara, would not be the proper attitude for those chosen to serve on the jury.
After all was said and done, the prosecutor and judge experienced a very lethargic jury seating process for this case. Reason com mentioned that many of the pot – ential jurors excused, were done so on the grounds, that they in one form or another think the criminalization of marijuana use is absurd.
“I think this whole thing is a waste of time,” said Richard Merkel, a psychiatrist and potential juror in today’s marijuana possession trial against an Albemarle County man.
Merkel was among five people struck from the first group of 13 – all because they had a problem with this country’s criminalization of people using marijuana.
This isn’t the first time Albemarle has had trouble seating a jury in a pot case. Judge Cheryl Higgins, who, during a break, chatted with a visiting gaggle of Rutherford Institute interns told them, “The last marijuana case we tried, we couldn’t even seat a jury because they were so biased against the marijuana laws.”
This is what I’m talking about folks. “We the” Freaking “People”… as one who is often called to interview for jury pools (a miserable exercise in democracy), I will now go about it with a much brighter outlook. Knowing that through jury nullification I might someday help out on the side of true justice.