We’ve talked often about the importance of jury nullification â€” the power of individual jurors to judge the law as well as the guilt of the defendant. It’s not an easy task â€” the court system is often stacked against the would-be nullifier.
But there’s another kind of nullification â€” judicial nullification. This is essentially when a judge says that he or she has had enough.
Of course, judges don’t have the same kind of power as a jury. They’re constrained by mandatory minimums and other limits on their ability to reduce or eliminate sentences. But they can still make a powerful statement.
A case in point is Federal Judge George Wu (thanks to Salem-News).
Federal District Judge George H. Wu issued a revised 41-page written sentencing order this week for former medical cannabis provider, Charles C. Lynch. In addition, the Judge also granted the defenseâ€™s request for reduced supervised restrictions as Lynch remains out on $400,000 bail pending appeal. Lynchâ€™s Federal Public Defender filed an appeal Thursday, May 6.
“[T]his case is not like that of a common drug dealer buying and selling drugs without regulation, government oversight, and with no other concern other than making profits. In this case, the defendant opened a marijuana dispensary under the guidelines set forth by the State of California . . . . His purpose for opening the dispensary was to provide marijuana to those who, under California law, [were] qualified to receive it for medical reasons.”
The sentencing order states that Lynch was â€œcaught in the middle of shifting positionsâ€ on the issue and that, â€œMuch of the problems could be amelioratedâ€¦by the reclassification of marijuana from schedule Iâ€
Of course, the feds don’t want to recognize that there’s a difference between Charlie Lynch and a criminal, but once a real human knows the facts, it’s hard to remain silent in the face of such injustice, and George Wu couldn’t.
There’s another important aspect to this case. Smart judges know the history of law, and understand that some bad laws end up living long after they have ceased to be supported by the country.
So what we do as individuals can have an impact here as well.
â€œWhile simple popularity is not a factor to be considered, the Court notes that it has received more letters in support of Lynch in this matter than in any other case in the undersigned judicial officerâ€™s 16 years on the federal and state benches.â€