Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Law – is it always Just?

It’s often easy for people to see that repressive laws in other countries are in some way wrong. Maybe they contravene Rights, are bias or give preferential treatment one section of the community, or just don’t make sense – they are not in the public interest.

But what about here in the UK? Are of Governments, whatever the political party, somehow divinely inspired and never make mistakes? Or do we also have bad and unjust laws to?

And if we do have bad laws, how do we get them changed or repealed? What happens when our Government refuses to listen to protests, petitions, letters? What can we do to change the law?

In short, next to nothing! We can elect a different Government (or try to) and hope for the best. That’s all folks! But is that the end? Does that leave us at the mercy of the politicians and the lawyers? Not quite: read on.

The POWER of the JURY

A few years ago, (1998), I wrote to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, asking whether the jury had the right to judge the justice of the law itself, after reading of such powers in the US. The reply from the Court Service stated that although the jury cannot judge the law itself, it is up to them “to apply the law as they see fit”

So it is quite clear, that as member of a jury, whatever the judge or anyone else says, it is your duty and responsibility not simply whether to ascertain guilt or innocence through the evidence presented in the trial, but also to consider whether or not the law has been correctly applied.

If you think the defendant should not even have been taken to court, despite the evidence, then you can say NOT GUILTY!


So what sort of case are we talking about here?

One obvious case would be seen if you watched the trial of a man for breaking into a house when clearly his purpose and intention was to rescue people from a fire. Or if he broke into a car to save a life. The evidence of forced entry – a criminal offence – would be clear enough; the man may even have admitted everything. But should he be punished?

Another case would be if a police officer, forensic scientist, were prosecuted for possession of an illegal drug when clearly it was in the course of his duty. Or in fact, a teacher, parent or doorman who had confiscated the drug with the intention of handing it in.

In both cases it would be unjust to find them guilty and punish them, if not simply silly. Fortunately such prosecutions are rare – but what about individual cases? How should we decide whether the law has been correctly applied? One thing is for sure – neither judge, prosecution nor defence lawyers are likely to be of much help in the courtroom; after all, they earn their money by appearing there.


You may have heard of holidaymakers taking their medication abroad where it is illegal, and getting prosecuted? Is that RIGHT? Is that JUST? Even though the laws of that country are quite explicit and those laws were broken (ignorance is no excuse).

What about a person in this country who is using a banned (illegal) substance to relieve intense pain, having found no alternative? That is: out of dire necessity?

In the case of cannabis, a plant grown and used medically in the UK and around the globe for hundreds and thousands of years – a plant known to relieve suffering from many ailments yet it has never killed any and has no fatal overdose? What would you do, faced with intense pain? Break the law or suffer agony and humiliation?

The Government flies in the face of literally MILLIONS of people who testify to the medical properties of cannabis, also known as hemp and marijuana, by denying that it has any medical value at all, despite licensing research into extracts. Furthermore, the High Court in London has ruled that the defence of medical “necessity” whereby people could hope to escape conviction is not valid.


How can you, the JUROR, decide whether or not the law is being correctly applied in the case of possession, cultivation, or even supply, if it was for medical reasons?

Maybe a good starting point is to ask whether anyone has been helped, or hurt. Has there been any malice or threats, has there been any victims, has there been any property ruined or Rights infringed, has society been upset, has the safety and security of the country been put at risk?

It would be very hard to say yes to any of those questions in most cases where cannabis is being used as a medicine to alleviate symptoms, so why are the cases happening?

Surely the law is meant to protect the people, their houses and possessions, their rights, and the security and safety of the environment and the society we live in.

If the law is not doing that, why the court case?

As a member of a JURY (most of us will be at some time during our lives) you have the POWER to see JUSTICE prevail over unsound laws.
If you think the law has been MIS-APPLIED (and I am thinking specifically of medical cannabis possession or supply here when it prevents agony and suffering), it is UP TO YOU.

You can return the JUST verdict – NOT GUILTY. Nobody is allowed to pressurise you into doing otherwise.

THAT is certainly one way to halt the senseless prosecutions that cost sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds, do many-fold times more harm than good.


1 comment:

  1. Max Mosely's case, of being able to take a good whipping in private, from/with consenting adults, should change the scenery slightly. he argues that before $6 of the Eu Human Rights act is broken by police and or newspaper by means of reporting, which also applies to growers of cannabis imho,that the newspapers should be required to ask a judge first before they publish.

    This is a hurdle which introduces a hold up in the current proceedings, as it is allowed to undertake even illegal activities in your home as long as you do not involve others without consent. hearsay will not be sufficient enough to break into people's home's, imho, but I'm no lawyer.