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Judge finds ‘increasing’ difficulty in seating marijuana juries

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It’s becoming more and more difficult to find juries that will produce a guilty verdict in marijuana cases, according to a judge in Missoula County, Montana.

“I think it’s going to become increasingly difficult to seat a jury in marijuana cases, at least the ones involving a small amount,” District Judge Dusty Deschamps said Friday after potential jurors refused to convict a Montana man for having a 1/16 of an ounce of Marijuana.

An April 23 search of Touray Cornell’s home found several used marijuana joints, a pipe, and some residue. He’s is also charged with the criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

Cornell’s neighbors had called the police because they thought he was selling drugs. The defendant admitted in an affidavit that he had distributed small amounts of marijuana.

One potential juror after another told the court that they would not convict the man for possessing a 1/16 of an ounce.

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Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul told the Associated Press that the jurors staged “a mutiny.”

“District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree,” the Missoulian reported. “Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections.”

“I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,” Deschamps said.

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Paul and Cornell’s attorney, Martin Elison, worked out a plea deal during recess.

Public opinion “is not supportive of the state’s marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances,” Elison wrote in the plea agreement.

Cornell entered an Alford plea Friday, not admitting guilt, but acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict him. The judge sentenced Cornell to 20 years with 19 of them suspended, to be served concurrently with his sentence in a theft case. Cornell was given credit for the 200 days already served.

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“I think it’s going to become increasingly difficult to seat a jury in marijuana cases, at least the ones involving a small amount,” the judge said.

“It’s kind of a reflection of society as a whole on the issue,” he added.

“If more potential jurors start turning down nonviolent drug cases, our drug laws will change,” Jason Kuznicki wrote for the blog The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

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Jury nullification often happens when a law is perceived to be unjust. During alcohol prohibition, nearly 60 percent of trials were nullified by jurors. Nullification was also often used in cases involving the Alien and Sedition and Fugitive Slave Acts.

In a more recent case, George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf suspected that jury nullification was used to spare former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.


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Republicans in Congress are angry about Trump’s latest racist comments — but not because they’re racist

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There can be no denying that amid the firestorm from President Donald Trump tweeting that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) should "go back where they came from," Republicans in Congress are upset.

However, as many of them make clear in conversation with reporters, the fact that these comments were racist is not the main reason they are angry at the president. Rather, they are frustrated that his comments are hogging the news cycle, which leaves them incapable of discussing their agenda — and of criticizing the agenda of the Democratic representatives he targeted.

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Lara Trump says the president is the real victim: He ‘gave up his entire life’ to be president

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Campaign advisor Lara Trump defended her father-in-law saying that he's the real victim in this exchange between four Congresswomen of color. Then she repeated that these women can "leave" the country.

Trump began the fight Sunday when he told four Congresswomen that if they didn't like what was happening in the United States Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." The women are all citizens and all but one was born in the United States.

"The reality is everything he says, of course, was taken and misconstrued," she said, alleging Trump's statements were taken out of context. You can read them below:

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George Conway declares ‘Trump is a racist president’ in brutal Washington Post column

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Prominent Republican attorney George Conway blasted President Donald Trump in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Monday evening.

Conway explained how he avoided thinking of Trump as a racist, despite the president's actions.

"No, I thought, President Trump was boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive. He’s a pathetic bully but an equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he’ll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him. No matter how much I found him ultimately unfit, I gave still him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist. No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot," he explained.

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