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NJ Jury Nullification case
Hopefully sometime soon, an American Dissident a man named Ed "njweedman" Forchion will go to trial in New Jersey, charged with Conspiracy and possession of over 40 pounds of marijuana. Forchion, a former truck driver turned medical marijuana supplier and a practicing Rastafarian, faces up to 30 years in prison as a conscientious objector in the War on (some) Drugs; even so, he'll act as his own defense counsel. The Camden County NJ Public Defender's Office refused to defend Mr. Forchion, during his first trial (Sept 18-Sept 21, 2000 ) because of his planned defense's -Religion, Medical, and Open advocation of Jury Nullification. For most people, this would be quite a challenge, but Forchion's defense is simple: He says that the government has no business telling people what they can put into their own bodies and wants the jury to refuse to enforce the law.( read this ) He openly planns on telling his juror's they have the right to nullify the law he's charged with violating!! During the first trial Ed told as much as he could, but the state and the NJ Public defender's Office conspired to prevent Ed from have a fair trial, which is constitutionally guaranteed.
Ed is out on $65,000.oo, and is supposed to report to prison on Dec., 1st 2000. Due to the irregularities of his trial, and undue pressure that was exerted in forceing Ed to accept a so-call PLEA, Ed has motioned the court to set aside his plea and schedule a new trial.
Mr. Forchion was
arrested on Nov. 24th, 1997 he denies being in possession
of any amount of marijuana on that day. The State of New
Jersey is trying to exploit the Conspiracy laws. Mr.
Forchion say's, "the charge's were a attempt to
force him to cooperate with authorities into revealing
source's and user's". Mr. Forchion was well
entrenched in black-market controlled medical
distribution of Marijuana in Southern New Jersey. ("What other options do
we have, we can't get it from the store, our properties
are taken if we grow it ourselves") Mr. Forchion is a medical user
of marijuana and a follower of RASTAFARI. Mr. Forchion
has supported marijuana legalization cause's for year's.
Mr. Forchion has entered a not-guilty plea, and openly
state's he has every right to use marijuana.
RASTAFARI is a African based Religion, with strong roots to Jamaica. Some 700,000 Americans now practice RASTAFARI. Some 40 Million-world wide. It is among the 1,558 religious groups sufficiently stable and distinctive to be identified as one of the existing religions in this country. SEE:- US-vs- Bauer, 75 F.3d 1366 (9th Circ.-1996). Why doesn't the first amendment apply to religions such as Mr. Forchion's, it's a combination of Racism and Christian Religious Persecution say's RAS ED as his follower's call him.
In the RASTAFARIAN religion the "herb"
(marijuana) or "GANJA" is considered a
sacrament and most Rasta's use daily, for spirituality,
and medical use. The present Marijuana laws are
absolutely unconstitutional, for it's failure's to make
exceptions for religious or religiously required self
medicating purpose's in this Marijuana Prohibition
(1937-present) as was done with alcohol during the
alcohol prohibition. Christians/Catholic were able to
continue to use alcohol (wine) during the course of
alcohol prohibition under the cloak of the 1 st.
Amendment. Native American's are protected from
prosecution for the use of Peyote, which the rest of are
forbidden from using.(Native American Peyote act). Even
follower's of Sanatoria, are protected from animal
cruelty laws by the first amendment which protects their
chicken/religious sacrifice's. Do
you think the following passage's in the US and NJ
Constitution's apply to Mr. Forchion?
Mr. Forchion is challenging the Constitutionality of the New Law which he was indicted under, on the grounds that it violates his Religious Freedom. He has chosen to take his challenge to the Jury. In a unprecedented open advocation of Jury Nullification as a defense. This case has the potential to be of national importance both for it's legality of marijuana through "Religious Freedom" and the Jury Nullification issue.
Ed , on Nov.24,
1997 was the first person arrested and charged under a NEW
LAW signed by Gov. Whitman on August 3, 1997. Knowing
all NEW LAWS are subject to constitutional
challenge's Mr Forchion has chosen to defend
himself with a "Open
Advocation of Jury Nullification",
as a defense. He has chosen to challenge the
constitutionality of this NEW LAW with a JURY.
"What do you
think about that? - Is Ed right or wrong? I say
defense raises hackles in the legal establishment, but
it's based on the time honored doctrine of " jury
nullification." In its modern form, the right of
jurors to refuse to enforce laws they see as unjust was
established in 1670, during the trial in England of
William Penn for preaching Quakerism then a
illegal Religion. Penn had clearly broken the law, but
the jury ignored the statute and the judge
and acquitted Penn.
The jurors were actually jailed for their votes, but refused to change the verdict; an appeals court then set them free.
Jury nullification followed an honorable path thereafter, helping to establish the principle of free speech in America during the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger for seditious libel he'd criticized the colonial governor of New York in print. Like Penn, Zenger had clearly violated the law, but the jury set him free.
Later, jurors used their power to geld the Alien and Sedition Act which blatantly attacked free political speech and to render the Fugitive Slave Act unenforceable. No less a light than John Adams said, "It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, said that, "the jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy"
Twentyfour states currently include jury nullification provisions in their Constitutions under their sections on freedom of speech, specifically with respect to libel and sedition cases: (Including New Jersey)
Alabama (Art.I, Sec. 12);
Colorado (Art.II, sec. 10); Connecticut (Art. First, sec.
7); Delaware (Art. I, sec. 5); Georgia (Art. I, sec. II,
Para. 1); Kentucky (Bill of Rights, sec. 9); Louisiana
(Art. XIV, sec. 9); Maine (Art.I, sec. 4); Mississippi
(Art. 3, sec. 13); Missouri (Art. 1, sec. 8); Montana
(Art. II, sec.7); New Jersey (Art. I, sec. 6);
New York (Art. I, sec. 8); North Dakota (Art. I, sec. 9);
Oregon (Art. I, sec. 16); Pennsylvania (Art. I, sec. 7);
South Carolina (Art. II, sec. 21); South Dakota (Art. VI,
sec. 5); Tennessee (Art. I, sec. 19); Texas (Art. I, sec.
8); Utah (Art. I, sec. 15); Wisconsin (Art. I, sec.3);
Wyoming (Art. I, sec. 20). Recently
Indiana Reaffirmed Article1, Section 19
Unlike juries of the past, modern juries are not usually advised that they're sitting in judgment of the law as much as in judgment of the defendant. In Mr. Forchion's proceeding's Asst. Prosecutor John T Wynne, argued too Judge Freeman (May 2o, 1999-Motion Hearing), "That although Jury Nullification is a Constitutionally permissible function of the Jury, Mr. Forchion should not be allowed to argue this before a jury."
Nevertheless, knowledgeable defendants like Ed Forchion have continued to turn to their fellow citizens for a little common sense and mercy. While state and federal prosecutor's try to prevent them from knowing about this other option.
Just as Prohibition era jurors
flipped the bird to Elliott Ness and company, their
counterparts today make marijuana busts in some parts of
the country little more of a hassle than traffic tickets
and that's what Forchion is counting on.
Even as the legal establishment has turned against jury nullification, it is now being touted in an organized manner by libertarians, drug legalization activists, gun owners, black activists and all sorts of leave-me-alone types, many of them working through the Fully Informed Jury Association. The coalition's tactic is simple: Get the word out so that potential jurors are familiar with nullification and willing and able to use it, if ever summoned to the trial of some victim of today's ban-it-if-it-moves, lock-it-up if-it's black, America.
The tactic seems to be working. For the past several years, prosecutors have complained that anti-government sentiment has produced hung juries and even outright dismissals in cases where the powers-that-be seem to be pursuing defendants as much for ideology as for actions.
According to a 1997 AP article:
Federal charges against homegrown terrorists - including racketeering, conspiracy, possession of weapons or explosives, or organizational criminal activity - result in dismissals, acquittals or mistrials more than 57 percent of the time, according to a study of 1980s cases by Brent Smith, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. .... As a comparison, U.S. attorneys reported victories in 87 percent of all federal prosecutions concluded in 1996.
Note that the majority of these "terrorism" cases involve nonviolent weapons or explosives possession, and allegations of plans that were never carried out. Most where conspiracy case's. It's not just political cases either. Early this year, The Washington Post reported:
For decades, a 5 percent hung jury rate was considered the norm, derived from a landmark study of the American jury by Harry Kalven Jr. and Hans Zeisel published 30 years ago. In recent years, however, that figure has doubled and quadrupled, depending on location.
Something is going on there. Something that ticks off prosecutors, but may be a very effective wake-up call to legislation-happy politicians. It's no fun to pass laws that can't pass a jury's laugh test.
Ed Forchion knows all of this, and he's been doing his best to reach as much of his likely jury pool as possible with press releases, op-ed pieces, and good, old-fashioned leafleting. The most masterful move Ed has done was his runs for political office, he ran for Camden County freeholder and NJ State assembly (8th Dist), in 1999 to keep his public profile as high as possible. In 1998 he ran for both Camden County Freeholder and the US Congress, again just to present himself to his potential juror's. The odds are pretty good. He only needs to convince one juror out of twelve in his big marijuana possession case to treat "not guilty" as if the words were chiseled in stone. The local press have been forced to report on Mr. Forchion, and his opinions are thus reaching his potential jurors all the while utilizing the equal access, and fair reporting rules of the Election laws.
During the republican convention in Philadelphia on August 2, 2000, Ed staged another act of civil dis-obedience by calling for a smoke-out & publicly smoking marijuana at the liberty bell. (LIBERTY BELL SMOKE-OUT VIDEO )
Ras Ed, as Mr.
Forchion is called amongst his follower's is a rarity, he
is a Fully Informed Defendant asking for a fully
informed jury. Maybe a fully informed media will
cover his JURY NULLIFICATION TRIAL .
BTW - Ed has done all this while running again for the1st dist. Congressional seat as his first trial proceeded, and refused to remove his name from the ballot afterwards. Interesting!
Good luck to ya, ED.
NJ Historic Jury Nullification Trial
State of New Jersey -vs- Forchion
SEE: "TRIAL COVERAGE"
On Dec. 1st, 2000
Edward "NJWEEDMAN" Forchion
"Then go check-out these Jury Nullification links"
|The History of Jury Nullification!
International Society for Individual Liberty
Fully Informed Jury
Essay on the Trial by Jury-
|Philadelphia Inquirer -
July 12, 1999
Is marijuana law in U.S. wrong?
DO Rastafarian's have the
legal right to use Marijuana?
|ED Air's Pro-Marijuana
The Atlantic City Press-Oct 30, 1999
Anti-government sentiment may affect trials AP in Lubbock Online
Fully Informed Jury Association-FIJA
An Essay on the Trial by Jury Lysander Spooner
Jury rights quotes Lone Star FIJA
Got something to say?
Have a opinion on Mr. Forchion's case?
Have a opinion on Jury Nullification?
Why not write to some of the local
newspapers covering Ed's case?
Why not return fire on the bulletin board?
Website: Legalize Marijuana Party
Comments to the Webmaster: BONG email@example.com
Snail -mail Address
The LEGALIZE MARIJUANA PARTY of SOUTH JERSEY
South Jersey Cannabis Buyer's Club
Jah Rastafari Ctr.
P.O. - Box 1302