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Real public servants are free enterprising individuals who, inspired, embrace challenge, take risks, and create, sometimes big, and often, they create jobs in the process, all out of their ideas, and self initiative...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nullifying the Drug War--by Jacob G. Hornberger

A re-post from Jacob Hornberger's Blog on April 18, 2011:
(A fascinating, thrilling story that warms the heart and fuels the spirit of all who love, without apology, the poetic beauty and justice of sweet liberty.)

No doubt to the chagrin of many judges across the land, a New Hampshire jury has shown, once again, that juries are the final judges of both the law and the facts in criminal cases, contrary to what all too many judges falsely inform juries in their courtroom.

The New Hampshire case involved the drug war. A man named Bob Constantine was charged with felony possession of marijuana, to wit: growing marijuana plants in his house. Constantine suffers from arthritis, and there was no evidence that he used the marijuana other than simply consuming it himself. Apparently, some nosy neighbor snitched on Constantine to the authorities.

Constantine defended himself at the trial. Before trial, he was offered a plea bargain involving a guilty plea to misdemeanor marijuana possession with 60 days in jail. It would have been a smart move to take the plea, given that Constantine had no defense to the felony charge. However, Constantine knew that this is how the drug war is often played, and he decided not to play the game. He went to trial and rolled the dice, obviously hoping that the jury would engage in some jury nullification.
Click here to read the article
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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