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75th Anniv. of Repeal of Prohibition Dec. 5th  RSS feed

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Yesterday, Dec. 5th was the 75th anniversary of Repeal Day, which ended alcohol Prohibition. This article beautifully summarizes how similar America's past Prohibition is to our current Drug War: http://reason.com/news/show/130383.html.

A good friend of mine is the director of the King County Bar Association's Drug Policy Project, which is taking a long-range, multi-faceted approach to solving the underlying issues of drug abuse while at the same time working to curb Drug War policies that only serve to increase profits for drug lords.

This seemed to be a benchmark that permies might appreciate. Yes?

In belated honor of this day, I am going to take an herbal bath! (Not that kind! :lol A thyme bath, actually, to cure my head cold.
 
Susan Monroe
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Nice article, Jocelyn!

I don't know if the whole world has the lack of historical memory that Americans do, or if it's tied into our educational (or rather, lack of) system.

But there was one very different situation during Prohibition that we don't have much of anymore, and that's juries who know what they can do and what they cannot do.  Did you know that the bottom-line reason that Prohibition was repealed was that they couldn't get convictions?  Yep.  The jurors then knew that they could vote not only for or against the guilt of a defendant, but against a law that they considered a bad law.  It's called 'juror nullification' when a juror refuses to convict a person because of a bad or misapplied law. 

Today, most jurors are woefully ignorant.  Judges routinely neglect (deliberately) to give them accurate information and instructions.  Judges are interested in controlling the case.  Few judges and prosecutors want today's jurors to be informed; they want ignorant jurors. It makes their jobs easier, and gives them power beyond the legal limit of their authority.

As one attorney on another discussion board said, "It's not a justice system, it's a legal system".  Justice hasn't been much in evidence in courts for quite a long time.  Courts and judges aren't interested in justice, they are only interested in determining how each case fits the laws that exist that day.  The fact that the laws are changed to suit certain parties on a daily basis seems to totally escape them. 

If anyone wants to learn more about what you can do as a juror, you may want to contact the FIJA, the Fully Informed Jury Association.  They are a non-profit organization that promotes education and justice.  More info can be had at their website at http://fija.org/

If you vote or have a driver's license, you can be called to jury duty.  It's a good idea to get some info from the FIJA and study it before you need it. 

I can tell you that it was a real eye-opener for me.  I realized that if I were accused of a crime, I would want a jury who knew what they could and could not do, who didn't have to depend on the judge's flawed instructions to make their decision.  Would you?

Sue
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Wow, Sue, that is critical information! Thank you for the educational reply and the link for FIJA.

I was asked to serve on a jury years ago when my kids were young and I protested that it would have been a hardship because I did not have, nor could I afford, childcare at the time (which was quite true). That got me out of it, and I have not been asked since then. These days, I probably would serve if I ever come up on the radar again.

I'm curious what led you to this part of Prohibition history and/or juror nullification. Seems you've done quite a bit of research and there might be a story there somewhere...I was woefully inattentive in my history classes (literally slept through some of them!), but as an adult, I've long wished I'd paid more attention, and try to glean what I missed where and when I can.
 
Susan Monroe
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Jocelyn, I can absolutely, positively guarantee that you never heard anything about jury nullification in a classroom!  The American Public School system is a government-sponsored system to control the population.  It was NEVER intended as an educational system!

I read a lot, always have.  My mother taught me to read before I entered school, and I am mostly self-educated.  The public school system was a twelve-year exercise in boredom, conflicting information, poor teaching methods and teachers who should have been fired.

I had read years ago that Prohibition was repealed because even though the Law arrested people right and left, the juries were letting the people off.  Then I was on another discussion board that mentioned the FIJA, I asked them for some info.  VERY interesting!

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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Susan Monroe wrote:

I read a lot, always have.  My mother taught me to read before I entered school, and I am mostly self-educated.  The public school system was a twelve-year exercise in boredom, conflicting information, poor teaching methods and teachers who should have been fired.



I could have wrote that 

I always took a different view on it. If I were on trial and wasn't seeking a jury that will null a law, I would prefer the decision of a judge over a jury. I figured that at least a judge must have some intelligence and sense and education to have reached his position. wherein I can pick few people out of the population that I would entrust to make any reasonable decisions, because to me it looks like their whole life is a string of bad choices. My dad was on jury once and when it was all over he was flabbergasted that his fellow jurymen wanted to award money to a guy who had walked into the side of a parked car. can you imagine the poor owner of the car? he innocently left his car parked somwheres and some idiot homeless guy(obviously looking for a lawsuit) runs into it and is "injured" and wants to sue the poor devil who owns the car!!!and then if  the owner  could have heard the jury talking he would have heard a large portion of the people on it saying that the lawsuit was justified!!! yikes. my experience with a judge in small claims court was of a no non sense guy that could see the reality. of course I won. my former boyfreind probably didn't see it the same way.

back on topic. drugs should be legalized in my opinion. not because I think they are harmless but because the war on drugs causes more crime and hardship and death than the drugs themselves would otherwise. it really is a silly notion that the gooberment can/should control what people put in their bodies. it would be far better to put those resources into dealing with the true aftermath of serious drug abuse. especially the children involved. I think Iwill have an extra glass of wine tonight to celebrate the end of prohibition.
 
Susan Monroe
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Do you know what a judge is?  Nothing but an attorney in black robes.  That's it.

Your Dad his jury were instructed by the judge, rightly or wrongly.  Your example is the perfect reason that people need to know what they're doing in a jury box.

When Prohibition was repealed, it took most of the profit out if illegal (and often dangerous) booze. And the government slapped a high tax on legal booze and made a fortune.  Another difference between Prohibition and the current farce called the War on Drugs (gag), is that the only crime was MAKING the booze, not DRINKING the booze.  The cops then weren't crashing people's homes and searching for liquor, or confiscating their belongings without proof and due process, as they can now.  One joint in your car and you've got a criminal record.  How stupid is that? 

And until Americans rise up and put their foot down, it's going to get worse.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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I read something recently about mexico pleading with the united states to curb its drug habit or they would never get on top of the "war". why can't they see that it is futile! why can't they see that they are the cause of most of their drug war woes!

yes I know that a judge is just a fancy attorney. both my aunt and uncle are district attorneys and sometimes they scare me. they are perfect examples of how personal beliefs can taint the legal system. those personal beliefs can work for or againts those being prosecuted. They are the type that would try and take someones kids away just becasue they were caught with weed. and would make right and wrong decisions based on the bible.  but I would rather them make a decision concerning my fate than  a whole herd of  random  dingbats. realistically whether or not a jury or judge is your best bet would really depend on what you were being prosecuted for. I hope I never have to experience either.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Susan Monroe wrote:
One joint in your car and you've got a criminal record.  How stupid is that? 


It is so incredibly stupid, I can't even elaborate on the stupidity of it, it would be too long of a blog.

Here's more stupidity, which I'm sure many of you are already aware of. Mandatory minimum sentences. When I first heard of this while watching TV, I nearly fell off the couch.

i.e. Someone is busted for growing a few cannabis plants strictly for their own use. They are arrested, convicted & sentenced with a "Mandatory minimum" sentence of 10 yrs. Taxpayers are footing the bill for this non-violent "offender" who wasn't a pusher & didn't inflict any harm or danger whatsoever on our society.

On the other hand, there are people who commit physically violent crimes against other people (not to mention pedophiles, rapists, etc.) which change victims lives forever...often end up with lesser sentences than that cannabis grower. It makes me sick!
 
Susan Monroe
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The so-called War on Drugs is EXTREMELY profitable.

In 1985 Congress made an end-zone run around the Constitution’s search and seizure laws and passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Law, where the police can seize and keep your money, property, and other assets which they suspect may have come from drug sales. It usually takes place without proof of the origins of the assets and without a conviction of anyone for a crime.

Law enforcement usually retains the seized assets, or the proceeds from the sale of the assets. As a result, a dangerous incentive is created for law enforcement to seize and keep assets at the expense of due process and individual liberties.  Our Constitution says in at least three places that illegal search and seizure is NOT allowed, so what happened?  Well, over $7 billion has been collected under this law. 

Now, combine this with the No-Knock Entry Law.  Such a deal!  Or is that ‘steal’?

Sue
 
Dale Hodgins
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My grandmother's family did really well during prohibition. They lived in Southern Ontario Canada. Corn whiskey was manufactured and smuggled across the st. Clair River for the Detroit Market.

This made all of my great-uncles minor criminals. The punishments in the US were more severe than in Canada. The local authorities turned a blind eye to their operation, probably because both parents were dead and a family of 14 children did not have to enter the overflowing orphanages of the time. Many legitimate businesses were started from this.

The alcohol was always sold in bulk to American gangs. Distribution can be a very dangerous business, so Grandma's brothers were content to be suppliers.

As soon as prohibition ended, my great-uncles all started legal business. They were drawn into crime because of the shortage and potential profits that prohibition creates. I'm sure the same would be true for many other substances.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Susan Monroe wrote:
But there was one very different situation during Prohibition that we don't have much of anymore, and that's juries who know what they can do and what they cannot do.  Did you know that the bottom-line reason that Prohibition was repealed was that they couldn't get convictions?  Yep.  The jurors then knew that they could vote not only for or against the guilt of a defendant, but against a law that they considered a bad law.  It's called 'juror nullification' when a juror refuses to convict a person because of a bad or misapplied law. 

Today, most jurors are woefully ignorant.  Judges routinely neglect (deliberately) to give them accurate information and instructions.  Judges are interested in controlling the case.  Few judges and prosecutors want today's jurors to be informed; they want ignorant jurors. It makes their jobs easier, and gives them power beyond the legal limit of their authority.

As one attorney on another discussion board said, "It's not a justice system, it's a legal system".  Justice hasn't been much in evidence in courts for quite a long time.  Courts and judges aren't interested in justice, they are only interested in determining how each case fits the laws that exist that day.  The fact that the laws are changed to suit certain parties on a daily basis seems to totally escape them. 

If anyone wants to learn more about what you can do as a juror, you may want to contact the FIJA, the Fully Informed Jury Association.  They are a non-profit organization that promotes education and justice.  More info can be had at their website at http://fija.org/

If you vote or have a driver's license, you can be called to jury duty.  It's a good idea to get some info from the FIJA and study it before you need it. 

I can tell you that it was a real eye-opener for me.  I realized that if I were accused of a crime, I would want a jury who knew what they could and could not do, who didn't have to depend on the judge's flawed instructions to make their decision.  Would you?

Sue


Oh, how I wish I knew about that when I was last on Jury Duty (though, does it apply to civil cases?). I was, I think, 24 and was called for a civil case in which a man was walking his leashed dog. He was walking on the sidewalk and the dog ran about maybe 4 feet into the street. The man instantly yanked the dog back. But, he didn't do so fast enough for a new motorcycle/scooter driver to apply BOTH breaks in reaction to the dog, and fly off his scooter. His then-wife was riding another scooter behind him and was also startled but unhurt. They sued for emotional and physical damages (the x-wife because she had to spend a few months tending to him). It was ridiculous, but the law was such that a dog in the road is illegal. We had to convict the dog owner. The scooter driver--who didn't know how to use his bike and shouldn't have used his front break like he did--was legally in the right. It was so frustrating. The best we could do was award the scooter driver the minimum amount (which was still thousands of dollars). The amount would pretty much only cover legal fees. So, he wouldn't get any pocket money out of it, but the poor dog owner still had to pay thousands of dollars for an accident and another mans over-reaction to a dog and ineptitude at handling a motor vehicle.


As for jury vs judges, I really wish intelligent, moral people would stop trying to get out of jury duty! So many people that I know, that understand justice and have two braincells to rub together, don't want the hassle of going to jury duty. I just don't understand it! These are all people, too, who work for places that give them full pay while they serve on a jury. Why won't they serve?! Don't they understand if people like them don't serve, they won't get intelligent & moral people serving on their jury if such a time ever comes? We have a responsibility to do justice, and jury duty is one way in which we can serve and help our fellow citizens.
 
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