Montana Jury "Mutinies" Over Ridiculous Marijuana Charge
Potential jurors in a Missoula County District Court last week staged what one attorney described as a "mutiny," refusing to be part of a case that would convict someone for possessing a few buds of marijuana.
Although the defendant, Touray Cornell, also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, the part of the case that got to some members of the jury panel was the charge Cornell faced for possessing a tiny amount of marijuana -- a 16th of an ounce. One after another, almost all of the nearly 30 potential jurors stepped forward to say they would not be willing to convict a man for possessing such a small amount of the drug.
One man reportedly asked why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all.
The court was ultimately unable to seat a jury that day. Reports the Billings Gazette:
“I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,’ ” said [District Judge Dusty] Deschamps, who called a recess.
And he didn’t.
During the recess, [Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew] Paul and defense attorney Martin Elison worked out a plea agreement....“Public opinion, as revealed by the reaction of a substantial portion of the members of the jury called to try the charges on Dec. 16, 2010, 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,” according to the plea memorandum filed by his attorney.