If the majority is to be taken seriously, the Federal Government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives, and potluck suppers throughout the 50 States. This makes a mockery of Madison's assurance to the people of New York that the "powers delegated" to the Federal Government are "few and defined", while those of the States are "numerous and indefinite.
"If you're convicted of a crime, you should be punished, but that we are sending far too many first-time, nonviolent drug users to prison for very long periods of time, and that we should rethink those laws," Vietor said, blaming the confusion in defining Obama's position on an unclear definition of decriminalization.
Talex: Is there any reason why the defense can't argue jury nullification of the federal law since it's clearly at odds with the states?
The 1895 decision in Sparf v. U.S. written by Justice John Marshall Harlan held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws. It was a 5-4 decision. This decision, often cited, has led to a common practice by United States judges to penalize anyone who attempts to present legal argument to jurors and to declare a mistrial if such argument has been presented to them. In some states, jurors are likely to be struck from the panel during voir dire if they will not agree to accept as correct the rulings and instructions of the law as provided by the judge.
Recent court rulings have contributed to the prevention of jury nullification. A 1969 Fourth Circuit decision, U.S. v. Moylan, affirmed the right of jury nullification, but also upheld the power of the court to refuse to permit an instruction to the jury to this effect. In 1972, in United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling similar to Moylan that affirmed the de facto power of a jury to nullify the law but upheld the denial of the defense's chance to instruct the jury about the power to nullify. In 1988, the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury instruction that "There is no such thing as valid jury nullification." In 1997, the Second Circuit ruled that jurors can be removed if there is evidence that they intend to nullify the law, under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 23(b). The Supreme Court has not recently confronted the issue of jury nullification.
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