What disturbed jurors most was testimony that a Massachusetts National Guard helicopter hovering over Darrellâ€™s Barnstead home in 2009 had discovered the marijuana plants he was growing for what was described as religious and medicinal use, said Converse, who also lives in Barnstead.
"I was actually appalled," she said. â€œBecause I live nearby, and a military helicopter over his house is over my house, as well.â€
She said nullification "was in everyone's mind from the beginning."...
As a Free Stater, Converse said, she was familiar with jury nullification and "gave a rundown" on the issue.
In an interview with Free Talk Live shortly after the verdict, Converse said:
Mr. Darrell is a peaceful man. He grows for his own personal religious and medicinal use. I knew that my community would be poorer rather than better off had he been convicted.
The rarely heard jury instruction that Converse and her fellow jurors received, which Belknap County Judge James O'Neill gave after Darrell's attorney, Mark Sisti, raised the issue of nullification, goes like this: "Even if you find that the State has proven each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find the defendant not guilty if you have a conscientious feeling that a not guilty verdict would be a fair result in this case."
Sisti says he hopes the instruction will become more common as a result of a new law, taking effect in January, that explicitly allows a defendant to inform the jury about "its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy."
State legislators who support legalizing marijuana argue that the Darrell case should help their cause. "It's going to be slow and take a long time," Rep. Timothy Comerford (R-Fremont) told the Union Leader, "but I think eventually our laws are going to catch up with the public's view on this issue."
Rep. Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) likewise said the acquittal "shows we need to start being more open-minded and start reflecting the ideas of our constituents."
Sisti noted that widespread jury nullification during alcohol prohibition was a harbinger of repeal as "people decided not to be hypocrites anymore."