Pubdate: Thu, 29 Dec 2011
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2011 Kumar Rao
Author: Kumar Rao


To the Editor:

What is hidden behind the heated philosophical debate that jury
nullification generates are the real people and communities affected
by prosecutorial and police policies. Paul Butler properly notes the
disgraceful number of marijuana possession prosecutions in New York
City. But what we need to be equally aware of is that drug
prosecutions in this city almost invariably target people suffering
from endemic joblessness, homelessness as well as mental health and
substance abuse problems aggravated by collapsing and underfinanced
social services.

As the moral and economic consequences of these misguided policies
become more and more apparent to the average citizen, more and more of
them will vow, as the writers for the show "The Wire" did in a Time
magazine article, that "if asked to serve on a jury deliberating a
violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit,
regardless of the evidence presented."

It is that righteous vow, and the insight behind it, that unnerves
prosecutors and policy makers. It is high time that our leaders begin
to curb the abuses of this misguided drug war, but until they do, each
of us should join Mr. Butler in vowing to join the ranks of the nullifiers.

KUMAR RAO Bronx, Dec. 21, 2011

The writer is a lawyer with the Bronx Defenders. 
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