December 22, 2010

Montana Jury is All About Pot

December 22, 2010
Simple Marijuana

According to a prosecutor in Missoula County, Montana, potential jurors made it clear they wouldn’t convict anyone for possessing a few buds of pot. District Judge Dusty Deschamps found it impossible to seat a jury, and decided to work out a plea bargain for the man in question, Touray Cornell, instead.

Touray Cornell was arrested after a search of his house turned up used joints, a pipe, and pot residue. The search was prompted by neighbors complaining that he was allegedly selling drugs, which he reportedly admitted to in an affidavit.

But none of this was enough for the potential jurors, who all told District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps that they would not convict him for the pot. “I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,'” Deschamps told the Missoulian.

He then called a recess, during which Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul worked out a plea deal. Paul described the incident as “a mutiny.”

“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.

Even Cornell’s own attorney was flummoxed, calling it “bizarre.”

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


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