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Pattycakes asks

On jury nullification:

Assume you’re a juror in a criminal case where you think the defendant is clearly guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — but you also believe that a conviction would be unjust. Maybe you disagree with the law on its face; maybe you just disagree with its application in this particular case. For whatever reason, a conviction is clearly the legally correct thing to do, but it might bother your conscience.

Would you ever convict in such a situation?

No. And he asks:

If your answer is that you would never convict in such a situation, then what would you do if faced with a choice between your conscience and the rule of law?

Conscience wins everytime. Sticking to the rule of law when your conscience says otherwise is for bureaucrats. The I was just following orders defense doesn’t cut it.

I went looking for an example and found one pretty quickly. Here:

a petty criminal has been sentenced to 30 years for selling $20 worth of marijuana.

Sure, I could vote on a jury that, yes, he is guilty of selling a teeny amount of marijuana. But if I knew he would get 30 years, no way in Hell. Even if it’s his 12th strike. That punishment seems so cruel and unusual.

Of course, I’d be unlikely to convict for any sort of victimless crime.

Update: that was quick, here’s another:

Since when did taking $15 worth of produce from a garbage can become a felony. Two members of the Rainbow Family were given 6 months in jail for stealing food from a dumpster behind a grocery store.

It’s almost like it happens all the time.

6 Responses to “Pattycakes asks”

  1. Patterico Says:

    Having answered that question, check out this post.

  2. Xrlq Says:

    Conscience wins everytime. Sticking to the rule of law when your conscience says otherwise if for bureaucrats. The I was just following orders defense doesn’t cut it.

    I guess not, if the rule of law is a moral neutral, and every moral dilemma equals Nuremberg.

    Since when did taking $15 worth of produce from a garbage can become a felony.

    It didn’t. Felonies, almost by definition, are punishable by more than a year’s imprisonment.

  3. SayUncle Says:

    Xrlq, they plead to 6 months from a felony.

  4. Rasta Boys » Blog Archive » Pattycakes asks Says:

    […] Original post by SayUncle and software by Elliott Back […]

  5. Sigivald Says:

    Actually, Uncle, they pled to a misdemeanor in exchange for dropping the felony charge, which is clearer if you go all the way to the original source than from Ravn’s summary.

    (“As part of a plea agreement reached with Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James, the men agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor trespass in exchange for having the felony they were facing dismissed.“, from the original Ravnwood linked to.)

    (Also, “St. James said the men were facing the felony second-degree burglary charge because they trespassed onto property without permission and took something that did not belong to them, regardless of how they got on the property or the value of what they took.

    “It’s called unlawful entry,” he said.”

    All this really tells me is that A) The police and prosecutors there are really bored and hate hippies, like all decent people and B) The law there needs to be amended to make the penalties for taking trash lighter under statute, because it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money and effort to put hippies in jail for taking trash.)

  6. Jon Says:

    >Felonies, almost by definition, are punishable by more than a year’s imprisonment

    “Punishable By” doesn’t mean the defendant actually has to receive a full year sentence.

    I’m quite certain there is a felony on my record. I’m also quite certain I only served 45 days for it.