Unjust Laws and a Morally Reasonable Jury


“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

–Charles de Montesquieu

Most of our readers are aware  that America is on a dangerous path, but many still believe we can fix the system through votes and elections. The anything-but-Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, absurdly broad interpretation of the Constitution’s commerce clause…. all are symptoms of a troubling concentration of power in the hands of the federal government, contrary to intentions of the founders of our Constitution.

Montana’s medical marijuana community was ravaged in March of 2011, when government-sanctioned thugs, under the guise of public safety; dramatically (agents wore hazmat suits and were armed with machine guns) raided the businesses and homes of medical cannabis growers and patients across the state.  Patients were thrown to the ground, handcuffed and frightened; as they watched helplessly as officers from every unrelated government agency imaginable- from the EPA to OSHA– seized assets, destroyed plants and medicine, and confiscated confidential medical records of tens of thousands of Montana’s ill.  Although several indictments have resulted from investigations associated with the raids, the vast majority of them will happen in coming weeks and many Montanans will question the logic and morality of imprisoning professional and otherwise law abiding productive citizens for mandatory minimum sentences of 35 years or more.  Because the federal government continues to maintain the absurd “Reefer Madness“-esque policies of 1937, juries won’t ever hear that the defendants were in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.  The juries won’t hear Obama’s campaign speeches promising to stop prosecuting patients in states with medical marijuana laws.  The juries won’t likely read the infamous Ogden memo, the one that changed the medical marijuana world.  What will they hear?  They will hear chilling tales of money laundering, organized crime, distribution of dangerous drugs, and conspiracy- and by legal definition- each defendant is likely guilty.  Jurors will be advised that based on the evidence presented- not personal opinions of the law itself- a verdict must be reached. What about when the offense itself inspires far less horror than its punishment?

One of the government’s best kept secrets, sadly; is that juries not only have the power, but the right to acquit when the law is clearly unjust.  Although the courts won’t advise juries of this additional option, termed jury nullification; it has been recognized since the founding of our nation, as one last check in our system of checks and balances to protect us from unjust laws and tyranny. Jury nullification generally refers to a jury’s decision to acquit a defendant even though the jurors believe the accused to be factually guilty of the crime.

Increased use of jury nullification historically portends change on the horizon. Almost universally unknown among jurors, this option in the hands of an informed jury could easily tip the scales of justice in favor of reforming irrational statutes. .  Despite the court’s consistent refusal to inform juries of their veto power, the use of jury nullification was a major factor in the end of prohibition of alcohol, the repeal of the 18th amendment..   In December of 2010, Montana witnessed an extreme example, a sort of pre-jury nullification, termed the “great Montana marijuana mutiny” when Missoula prosecutors were unable to seat a jury willing to convict the defendant who had been charged with possession of only a few measly grams of cannabis.

Trials of defendants charged with marijuana crimes are prime candidates for future use of jury nullification.  Despite documented evidence supporting the substance’s medical use, a 6000+ year history of safety, and state laws providing for its use, the federal government has refused to remove cannabis from the dreaded list of dangerous Schedule I narcotics and has participated in a deadly bait and switch with America’s ill.  A majority of citizens are no longer willing to accept the propaganda supporting the failed “war on drugs” and are well aware that in reality, it is a war on us.

Education is key.  As is, the chances a jury will acquit my friends who will be soon indicted and convicted quickly in the court of public opinion are very slim.  Perhaps if members of juries were more informed, our legislators would lack the audacity to force their personal “morality” on the state.  For more information on jury nullification, check out the website of Fully Informed Jury Association, an activist group founded by two Montanans. September 5 is Jury Rights Day, in commemoration of the William Penn case in 1670 which firmly established protection for the jury, and firmly established the right of the jurors to refuse to accept bad government laws.  Celebrate by writing a letter to the editor to educate the public. Educate your friends.  When you receive a summons for jury duty, consider it an opportunity, not a punishment.  We need more informed jurors.

Jury nullification is not a right, but a RESPONSIBILITY. We only have a duty to obey and uphold just laws that promote peace, tranquility, and the common good. We have no obligation to uphold laws that favor special interests, corrupt politicians, or self-serving bureaucrats. Jury nullification is the last peaceful means of defending our Constitution- and the effects are permanent as the fifth amendment  prevents trying the defendant again.

Montanans placed medical marijuana on the ballot in 2004 because the legislature failed to do so, and 62% voted to approve its use.  The legislature ignored the issue for a few sessions until enough tea people had been elected that they knew they could force their social agenda upon the entire state.  The federal government is clearly complicit, as once again, promises of the Obama administration have been broken. We continue to spend billions of dollars imprisoning non-violent marijuana offenders. I have no hope for our federal or state governments, my bets are on the people.  We need to nullify the entire war on drugs and stop our government from taking our friends as political prisoners. The founding fathers would certainly agree.

Jurors should acquit, even against the judge’s instruction…if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.
— Alexander Hamilton, 1804

It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court.
–John Adams, 1771

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
— Thomas Jefferson, 1789

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made
by men of their choice, if the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they… undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.
— James Madison

Montana Democrats:Premature Yet Rampant 2012 Paranoia


 

Answer our questions, Tester.

The paranoid Montana Democrats have filed a complaint against Steve Daines, who they claim is running an illegal shadow campaign for the US Senate seat currently held by Jon Tester.

 

At issue is a youtube ad posted by Common Sense Issues PAC attacking Tester and Baucus and appearing to endorse Steve Daines for their jobs- although the ad never mentions Daines, nor does the group’s website.

In a telephone interview with the Billings Gazette today, Daines maintained that he isn’t currently a candidate and expressed concern that the Democratic Party had consulted with the media before filing with the FEC.  The Gazette also mentions the “Draft Steve Daines for US Senate” Facebook group but fails to note that it was created by College Republicans- not by Daines, the Montana Republican Party, or the Common Sense Values PAC.

While it is widely believed that Daines will be filing soon (rumored to be November 13), there is also some speculation that current US House Representative Denny Rehberg is also interested in the position  which has led many to wonder if Daines will instead run for Rehberg’s House seat.

Personally, I just think Jon Tester is unhappy with the new website the PAC created which pokes fun at the senator’s inability and unwillingness to answer questions from his constituents.

Injustice: Marc Racicot’s Montana Legacy: Part III


Was Judge Swandal a Casualty of Cronyism?

In March 2008, Judge Cybulski rejected Beach’s request for a hearing based on the testimony before the state parole board, including witnesses who said they heard two women talk about being involved in the killing. Judge Nels Swandal was assigned the case on April 2 after the Montana Supreme Court ordered Cybulski to appoint a new judge.

Although the Department of Justice refused to specify why,  the state asked that Swandal be removed from the case. As a result, District Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown will preside over the hearing scheduled in August of 2011.

It seems to be a somewhat logical conclusion that politics was at play here.  The conservative Nels Swandal was likely not the favored candidate of the Montana Department of Justice- a group of liberal lawyers.  Were they were afraid that the Beach case, which is sure to garner national attention, would provide publicity for Swandal and thus endanger their candidate, a Department of Justice/Helena insider?  Perhaps it simply suited Marc Racicot to have a friend on the Supreme Court?  I’d love to believe that Racicot’s endorsement was heartfelt and driven solely by belief that Baker is the best candidate for the job, but I’m not convinced.

For all of these years, Marc Racicot has maintained that Barry Beach was responsible for the death of Kim Nees.  I wonder how he is able to sleep at night although maybe, just MAYBE; he is convinced that his prosecution was fair, along with a host of other big decisions he made for our state that impact us to this day.  Had the internet been more prevalent during his tenure, I wonder if he would be remembered as Montana’s most popular governor or as a ruthless narcotics smuggler, Mr Deregulation, Enron lawyer/lobbyist, or the guy who stole Barry Beach’s entire life simply because he was overly ambitious and more concerned about his future than the truth.

From the Montanan online:

Racicot makes no apologies for deregulation or any other policy decision, although without giving specifics does admit “not everything I did was right.” He hopes his legacy is his approach, saying he will be remembered for “the character of my service and the civility of it.”

Injustice: Marc Racicot’s Montana Legacy: Part I


Questions Surround Racicot’s Endorsement of Beth Baker

RINO Racicot

Former “Republican” Montana Governor Marc Racicot‘s letter to the editor (QCN, Sept. 29, 2010) endorsing Beth Baker for Montana Supreme Court Justice, may not be as puzzling as it appears at first glance….

Beth Baker beat Nels Swandal in the race for Montana Supreme Court Justice earlier this week.  Although Swandal was, from the beginning, the underdog in the race, many consider Racicot’s endorsement as one that sealed Swandal’s fate.  While Baker campaigned as a non-partisan candidate, Swandal refused to deny his conservative values. While she may portray herself otherwise, an analysis of Beth Baker’s political contributions (to only democrats or “non-partisan” judicial candidates over the last 17 years) combined with her endorsements from liberal environmentalist groups (her husband Tim Baker is former head of Montana Wilderness Association and currently their legislative campaign coordinator) imply that Baker is hardly non-partisan.

Let’s look at Baker and Racicot’s history…. In 1989, Beth Baker became an assistant attorney general with the Montana Department of Justice after four years as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell.  As assistant attorney general, Baker worked under Republican Attorney General Marc Racicot and Democrat Attorney General Joe Mazurek and became chief deputy of the department in 1997.  She is currently in private practice as the managing partner for the law firm Hughes, Kellner, Sullivan and Alke, PLLP in Helena.  Racicot said in his letter to the editor, in reference to Baker:

…Montanans could elect no better candidate to their Supreme Court than Beth Baker.

…we both believe that Beth is the embodiment of what a judge ought to be.

…In this race, and especially with this candidate, our party affiliations are irrelevant.

One questions why a “conservative” former governor/RNC Chair/Bush campaign manager/DC lobbyist would publicly endorse- jointly with a Democrat- a clearly liberal environmentalist with no judicial experience.

Next:  Part II

When You Cease to Exist, Who Will You Blame?


Democrats aren’t apparently ready to accept any responsibility for the state our nation or Montana.  One liberal blogger- a Schweitzer cheerleader-blamed it on corporate interests.  According to her/him/it, there just wasn’t  any cash available for democrats.

After all, it’s virtually impossible, especially in a year when Republicans are charged up with rage and Democrats are apathetic, to run a legislative campaign when one side has several million dollars and your side has squat.  There was simply no cash available for Democrats; whereas millions in corporate cash, as I detailed in a recent post, were spent by conservative groups. In some races there were as many as a dozen negative mailers dropped against the Democrat, where as the Republican candidate would get maybe one or two, or maybe none.

Many legislative races should have been won by democrats that were not, because the resource disparity was simply too great.  That’s showbiz. You need to go big or go home, and Dems couldn’t go big cuz the money wasn’t there.  A few large corporate interests sent huge money into Montana to influence the election.

Many are blaming Max Baucus- for sending 30 paid staffers to Nevada to campaign for the embattled Reid, for not pushing the public option, for failing America and Montana for 35 years.   Where was Tester?  In the days leading up to the election, he was campaigning in Missouri, Nevada and California….. naturally.  They managed to come together at the end, however; in their GOTV effort Saturday-Monday.

There was one “popular” democrat who seemed to be invisible during this election season- that is, when he wasn’t bragging on every national television show possible about running our state like a ranch and his “massive surplus”.  Yeah, you guessed correctly….. Brian Schweitzer.  Where was he?  Whether he was concerned about polarizing his potential constituents in his future run for US Senate, hiring some more government workers, or patrolling his personal wildlife reserve on Mullan Pass, we don’t know.  One thing is likely though, whatever he was doing was done so to benefit Brian Schweitzer and Brian Schweitzer only.

Surprisingly enough, I haven’t yet heard anyone in Montana blaming George Bush yet….. I’m confident it won’t be long.  Democrats need to look in the mirror.  This election was NOT so much an endorsement of the Republican Party, but a DENOUNCEMENT of liberal values and policies.  Americans- and especially Montanans- don’t want to be governed by the left, nor the right, nor the center.  They want to govern themselves.

 

Anything Short of Condemnation is a Compliment to Liberals


 


Liberals: Do as I Say, Not as I Do

In the Republican state senator’s op-ed October 27, 2010 in the Whitefish Pilot, Ryan Zinke wrote the following:

 

At the local level, the big event is the house race to fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Mike Jopek. It’s a tight race between Derek Skees, a Republican, versus Will Hammerquist, representing the Democrat side. Aside from all the negative campaign tactics, the truth is that the two candidates are very different and your vote matters.

Derek Skees is a conservative who champions cutting government, state sovereignty, strong property rights and believes that economic recovery is best achieved through the free market. If you believe in those ideals, Derek is your man. Will Hammerquist, is a moderate with a background in environmental non-profit organizations and is an advocate for government-funded health care and conservation easements, and supports the use of government subsidies and tax credits for economic recovery. If you believe in those ideals, mark Will on your ballot.

Ryan Zinke is listed as a supporter on campaign literature of Derek Skees yet liberal bloggers have somehow chosen to interpret Zinke’s statement as some sort of compliment to Hammerquist.  James Conner of the Flathead Memo wrote:

Talk about damning with faint praise! The “…two candidates are very different and your vote matters.” In my book, that’s a backdoor endorsement of Will Hammerquist.

For months far-left Montana bloggers (are there any other kind?)  have tried to paint Derek Skees as a extremist. The campaigns have become increasingly negative and voters are tired of the mud-slinging.  Zinke’s statement was an endorsement of conservative ideals and by presenting it in this way,  he achieved respect from even the liberals.  Montana Cowgirl even referred to him as “the highly respected State Senator Ryan Zinke“.  My interpretation- and I’m not a member of any organized political party- of Zinke’s description of Hammerquist was:  big government advocate with no experience in the private sector supports Obama-care and government land grabs as well as redistributing your wealth.

Ryan Zinke’s words confirmed Derek Skees’s conservative values while neither endorsing nor alienating Hammerquist or his supporters, which I think is a wise strategy.  It is indeed a tight race and the candidates are very different.  The choice should therefore be very simple.  Your vote matters.

Obscure PAC Uses Deceptive Propaganda to Influence Montana Senate Race


Absentee ballots will arrive today in 140,000 Montana mailboxes.  Hoping to influence outcomes in the contentious Montana Senate District 25 race between incumbent  Republican Roy Brown and challenger Democrat Kendall “Tax Hike” Van Dyk, “Values Energy & Growth PAC” recently sent mailers to arrive immediately before absentee ballots.  Loaded with distortions, misrepresentations, and outrageous lies, the mailer portrays Roy Brown as a “Big Oil” tycoon who seeks to murder trout, vitiate the Yellowstone River and otherwise rape the earth as he protects the interests of big oil companies. In reality, it has been 14 years since Brown worked in the oil industry and nearly 3 decades since he was employed by Marathon Oil- although in the ad,  Roy was pictured wearing a “Marathon” label  (and a poorly-Photoshopped one at that)on his shirt.

Note : all red text below was added by ME to point out the distortions and lies.  Please click on image to expand to full-size.

Values Energy & Growth PAC

I'd take "Big Oil" Roy Brown over Kendall "TAX HIKE" Van Dyk any day.

LIES

The left loses more credibility each day.

A PAC is a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates.   Unfortunately, some  don’t register their organizations with the FEC or the state and many that do register, don’t disclose their involvements.  Just who is the group “Values Energy & Growth PAC“? Registered to a Bozeman Post Office Box, Christopher Cady of Bozeman is listed as the  caliginous group’s treasurer.  Other than that,  little is known about this group.  A Google search of the group’s name returns nothing of value and searching the Federal Elections Commission website also turns up nothing. Update: The group abbreviated as “VegPAC” (how appropriate) filed a C2 in Montana on September 30,2010.  Although it provides little additional information, the filing claims intent to “support and/or oppose legislative candidates”.

Numerous 2010 Montana primary elections were potentially  influenced by last-minute attack ads and mailers from difficult-to-track  shadowy groups.  In one such race, Montana HD 57 , Debra Bonogofsky was defeated by Dan Kennedy after voters received a mailer criticizing Bonogofsky’s failure to return the group’s survey.  Bonogofsky is, according to Republican party insiders, a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and is listed as such on rinopoacher.com.  Although she was one of only two Republicans in Montana to receive the endorsement of the radical environmentalist group Montana Conservation Voters (who has endorsed Kendall Van Dyk in the SD 25 race) in June’s primaries, she denies that she is a RINO and isn’t willing to surrender without a fight.  After considering an illegal party change  (Democrats entertained the idea of her running in the general election as their candidate, which says much about her “conservatism”), Debra instead launched a write-in campaign.  It will remain to be seen if voters will regard Debra’s persistence as that of a sore loser-it is easier to blame special interest groups for a defeat than to look within.

If you have questions today as you are voting from the comfort of your own home, don’t hesitate to research further. Ask questions.  Know your candidates. If you aren’t familiar, information is available on the voting record, issue positions, and group ratings for most candidates at Project Vote Smart.  This year, absentee voters can also check the secretary of state’s website to make sure their ballots are received by the county.