Ricardo Cortés, author of It's Just a Plant and illustrator of Go the Fuck to Sleep, has a new project: Jury Independence Illustrated. He says the free pamphlet, which he planned to distribute at a Brooklyn courthouse today, is meant to "inform potential jurors" about "a specific, largely unknown power they have—a transformative role that could radically shift the criminal justice system." As the pamphlet explains, a jury has the unreviewable power to declare a defendant not guilty "despite evidence establishing that the defendant is guilty as charged." It can thereby "nullify a law that it believes unjust or wrongly applied to a defendant." Echoing the creators of Eric Holder's favorite TV show, Cortés urges jurors to use this power in all cases involving nonviolent drug offenders.
The pamphlet includes a chart detailing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's shameful crackdown on pot smokers, regarding which Cortés relates the following anecdote:
I confronted Bloomberg once at a Gracie Mansion BBQ, where I asked him to reconcile his administration of record marijuana arrests with his own admission of personal use and enjoyment. He hemmed and hawed. I asked why he wouldn't arrest himself for the past use, and he said "That's not how the law works." I said, "So, really you're just saying 'I got away with it.'" At that point he said, "You and I have nothing in common," and walked away from me.
You can download Jury Independence Illustrated here. More on jury nullification here.
June 22, 2011
If the Law's Unfit, You Must Acquit