By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in News
Monday, August 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm
|A photo found on "Juror 110's" blog site, with a declaration from Jury Nullifier "Peter"|
Retrial Begins August 28
By Sharon Letts
Two years, twenty thousand dollars, and one hung jury later, Orange County "Pro 215" collective Executive Director Jason Andrews, heads back to court August 28 with a retrial on State (Yes, State, not Federal) charges for "Sales and Trafficking of Marijuana" in the medically legal State of California.
Jury Nullification 101
The trial is a lesson in Jury Nullification, as defined by Merriam Webster as "The acquitting of a defendant by a jury in disregard of the judge's instructions and contrary to the jury's findings of fact." In other words, if one juror disagrees with the evidence before them, they can render a "not guilty," rendering the entire proceedings a hung jury, with subsequent acquittal.
This process can be traced to early colonial legal matters from 1735 and the case of John Peter Zenger's trial for seditious libel, as stated:
[Juries] have the right beyond all dispute to determine both the law and the facts, and where they do not doubt of the law, they ought to do so. This of leaving it to the judgment of the Court whether the words are libelous or not in effect renders juries useless (to say no worse) in many cases.
The practice was due to the colonist need for their own laws, in disagreement with the often brutal mandates brought down by British rule an ocean away. That said, it works well within the confines of State vs. Federal laws, especially concerning Cannabis as medicine.
On October 12, 2010 Andrews had been running errands when he and a passenger were pulled over for (allegedly) speeding by two officers from the Lake Forest Sheriff Department in Orange County.
Andrews said he immediately told the addressing officer that he and his passenger were both California State Medical Cannabis patients, that he had just left a dispensary, and had picked-up and dropped off overages over the course of the day -- attempting to explain the product in the vehicle, and the $6,400 in his wallet.
"I am not ashamed of what I do," Andrews said. "I provide a medicine to people who have tried everything under the sun that a doctor prescribes and it doesn't work for them. They come to me with open arms in need of something to help them in their times of pain.
"What kind of person or man would I be if I turned them down?" Andrews asked. "My God gave me a gift. I have a green thumb and a discerning soul. What kind of steward would I be if I kept those gifts to myself?
"At the end of the day all that matters to me is that when I rest my soul and take my last breath in this world that my God receives me with open arms an d says 'This is my Son in whom I am well pleased,' " Andrews said.
That's a lot of cash
How much money a person carries with them at any given time is up to them and perfectly legal. Carrying it with a big bag of bud may leave you open to questioning.
|Jason Andrews and wife, Jennifer at daughter Brittnay's high school graduation in Orange County.|
Since he was dealing with overages, and had just left a dispensary, one might assume the cash was from the transaction, but no. According to Andrews, he had an I.O.U. on him from said dispensary in the amount of $1,600.
Andrews explained just days prior he had received a sizeable cash settlement from an auto accident, and after buying his now wife a wedding ring, the chunk of change remaining was allotted to a honeymoon and assorted bills to be paid. Not hard to substantiate after perusing his Facebook page, complete with wedding pictures uploaded just weeks after he was pulled over.
According to Andrews, the two were detained at curbside, then held inside the back of the police car, for a total of three and a half hours with literally no verification of Medical Cannabis validity done by either officer.
"Both officers openly declared they were not in favor of Proposition 215, Medical Cannabis, or the work we were doing," Andrews said. "They didn't care if we were patients, collective workers, caregivers or anything. They treated us like common criminals."
Andrews, who is a Medical Cannabis patient himself, suffers from intense pain from four ruptured disks in his lower back, with an impingement on his Sciatic nerve, aggravated and ignored that night as he stood for the first hour by the side of the road.
Slap on the hand
At the end of the ordeal Andrews said he was "let out of the police car" with one of the officers declaring, "We are going to give you a warning for speeding. Have a good night."
"I was handed a piece of paper that said I could file to get my $6,400 in cash back," Andrews recounted. That was it. No arrest for drug trafficking or even possession. No speeding ticket - because I wasn't speeding - just a warning for speeding, with a way to get my property back."
Dumbfounded, but not mute
Andrews said he couldn't believe what was written on the paper handed to him. Especially after being openly treated like a common drug dealer.
"I read it, then I turned and walked back and told them both that they should look me up on Google, that I am an activist and advocate for Medicinal Cannabis. I told them everything they just did to us was wrong and violated our rights and my rights as a patient."
After shaking both the officers hands, Andrews told them he'd see them in court.
"As I drove home that night to my wife and my little girl, I was utterly amazed at what just happened. I felt like the police - who are supposed to be there to serve and protect - violated me - I felt disgusted in them, like they had just robbed us - like they were the bad guys."
What they kept
Among the personal possessions confiscated from the car that night for a "speeding warning" were, a computer bag with a signed copy of Jack Herer's book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes; letters from members of Congress and the Senate regarding Cannabis; patient records, recommendations, and collective agreements; processing equipment; a phone and Bluetooth headset and charger.
Aside from the large amount of verifiable cash the officers took that night, of all the things Andrews said he would like back the most, is his cell phone.
"The phone has the last photo of my older brother in it, and the last voice-mail message he left me," Andrews said. "He died August 20, 2010 - just before this happened."
Two months later
For the next two months Andrews said he made phone calls to every city and county agency who would listen, asking the same question, "What is your policy regarding the State of California's Medical Marijuana I.D. Card?"
"I started with the Orange County District Attorney's office; I then called the Lake Forest Sheriff's Department and talked to watch commanders. I even spoke with someone in Internal Affairs - no one could, or would help me. They accused me of harassing them. I was told the same thing by everyone," Andrews explained. "They all asked how in the world they would be able to verify my patient status! I mean, there is a Web site and phone number clearly printed on the card. How can they be so ignorant?"
Speeding Warning turned Drug Trafficking
The initial $6,400 taken from Andrews was reduced to $3,000 in a plea bargain.
"I would have taken the three thousand if they wouldn't have called me a drug dealer," Andrews said.
|An open book: Detail of Jason's medicine, as found in his Facebook album titled, "My Meds."|
Andrews is convinced his frustration with the process during yet another conversation with an investigator named McCullaugh was enough to threaten him with charges.
"It was on a Thursday - the week before Labor Day. He told me if I didn't watch the way I talk to him, he would press charges," Andrews reports. "I asked, for what? If I did anything wrong, they would have arrested me that night."
The following Monday morning Andrews said he checked the Orange County Sheriff's Web site for outstanding warrants, and saw his and his passenger's name on the list.
"There it was, two months later - after being handed a warning for speeding, we have Felony warrants for our arrest. Sales and Transportation," Andrews said, in disbelief.
The trial with appeal lasted two years, and what is most surprising is that no medical defense was allowed. There was no mention in California State court of the State sanctioned compassionate care program, otherwise known as Proposition 215, voted on by the people of California. There was no mention allowed of "Pro 215," the collective Andrews was working for, and no mention of the patients Andrews and his collective had helped.
"So, after two years and a mistrial, being called a drug dealer, with my terminally ill AIDS and Cancer patients being referred to as drug addicts, I'm denied a medical defense by the judge and district attorney."
With no mention of legal medical need, a juror might believe they have no other option but to vote guilty. But, Juror Number 110 was familiar with Jury Nullification.
"He approached me after the trial and gave me this Web address," Andrews shared. "It's his personal blog. I was amazed and blessed. He saved my life."
The blog is no different than any other. Personal photos are combined with work-related fodder. But, one page stands out. Found under "Random Items," the page is titled, "Juror 110," with one photo of a juror's badge pinned to a jacket, the number "110," and a tiny, oval sticker with an American flag stating, "I Voted."
Below the photo is a declaration from "Peter," owner of the badge and provider of the one vote of "Not Guilty" for Jason Andrews:
Always do your jury duty
you might have a chance to save a fellow citizen
from a faulty charge and a lazy, zombie jury
Broke from the original trial, Andrews must rely solely on a Public Defender's help, with an appointment set for August 28, 2012.
This time, Andrews is going for the big guns, enlisting the help of anyone who can give clarity to this seemingly no-win situation of the State, and Orange County Sheriffs, ignoring its own laws.
California State Senator (ret.) John Vasconcellos is on board, stating in an e-mail to Andrews, he was committed to the cause.
Sen. Vasconcellos writes, "Be assured that I continue to be and do all I can to: Challenge the rouge actions of both the U.S. Federal Prosecutors who are making a mockery, and are traitorous to the pledge of President Barack Obama; Challenge (if I can find an effective way) the rogue Orange County actions; and seek to get into personal contact with my long-time friend, Kamila Harris."
The good Senator concluded with, "Keep up your fighting spirit, Jason. Eventually, smarter, wiser, more mature and honest minds and hearts will prevail."
As optimistic as the good Senator's statement is of good overcoming evil, Andrews is pensive.
"Bad things happen to good people every day," Andrews waxes poetic. "We all know this. And no one knows it better than the officers, agents, and agencies of law enforcement. When bad things happen to good, law abiding citizens, it's the law we turn to. What happens when those who are supposed to protect us, harm us? I am not the guilty party here, Orange County is."
To contact Jason Andrews, or for more information on the Pro 215 collective, visit www.pro215.com.