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State of New Hampshire v. Rich Paul (2010 arrest, Cheshire County, NH)

posted Jun 11, 2013, 1:06 AM by The Editor   [ updated Jun 11, 2013, 2:39 AM ]
New Hampshire liberty activist Rich Paul freely admits that in May 2012, he delivered multiple ounces of marijuana to a confidential informant, leading to his arrest by the Keene, NH, police department.  Instead of being booked for a crime, Mr. Paul was interrogated by an FBI special agent who threatened him with 81 years in prison for the sale of controlled substances, while at the same time offering the suspect a "one time only" deal to drop the charges in exchange for entrapping other members of the Keene Activist Center by wearing a wire during felony drug transactions. 

Viewing the FBI special agent's offer as entrapment of peaceful liberty-minded citizens, Mr. Paul refused the deal and invoked his right to legal counsel.  He was booked and released from jail on his own recognizance (O.R.), to be later indicted on four charges of selling marijuana and one of selling a substance alleged to be LSD (which Mr. Paul claims was a legal hallucinogenic).

Immediately prior to his April 2013 trial, Rich Paul refused a "no jail time" plea deal, insisting publicly that he was not guilty because drug prohibition laws are inherently unconstitutional.  United States juries have the power to nullify, or vote "not guilty" on charges they believe to be unjust or immoral.  Jury nullification is the power of the people to change "bad laws" by refusing to convict.  In fact, New Hampshire has a 2012 law permitting defense attorneys to inform juries of their right to "judge the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy." 

Relying on this law, and his belief in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Rich Paul took his case to trial.  “Somebody had to stand up and say that this is wrong, and I thought I might well be that guy,” Rich told Vice magazine. “I took the risk and now we'll find out whether I bet my life well.”

On the advice of his public defender, Mr. Paul did not take the stand at trial to testify on his own behalf.  In her instructions to the jury, defense attorney Kim Kassick quoted Socrates, "To find yourself, think for yourself," and explained that, "If you feel that it is unjust to apply the law to him, you can acquit him."   In his instructions to the jury, Judge John C. Kissinger emphasized that the jury had to follow the law as he explained it.  The judge did not permit any mention of jury nullification in the official jury instructions.

After a three-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all charges, with a maximum penalty of 100 years in prison.  In June 2013, Rich Paul was sentenced to 12 months in jail, plus a suspended prison sentence, plus probation of three years, plus a $650 fine. 

Rich Paul is appealing his conviction on the grounds that the jury was denied knowledge of their power to decide the law shouldn’t be applied in particular cases. He was denied bail pending appeal and is currently serving his sentence in the Cheshire County Department of Corrections.

Last updated June 11, 2013 by Lex Libreman for WEED WARS: United States v. Marijuana.

Sources:

Rich Paul Full Trial Video by FreeKeene

Cheadle, Harry. "Eighty-One Years for Weed?" VICE.com. Vice Media Inc., 16 Apr. 2013. Web. <http://www.vice.com/read/eighty-one-years-for-weed>.

Cheadle, Harry. "Rich Paul Is Appealing His 81-Year Prison Sentence for Selling Pot." VICE.com. Vice Media Inc., 29 May 2013. Web. <http://www.vice.com/read/rich-paul-is-appealing-his-81-year-prison-sentence-for-selling-pot>.

French, Wendy. "Rich Paul, from Trial to Appeal and Beyond." FreeKeene.com. Free Keene: Peaceful Evolution, 3 May 2013. Web. <http://freekeene.com/2013/05/03/rich-paul-from-trial-to-appeal-and-beyond/>.

Lynch, Tim. "Jury Nullification Law Signed by New Hampshire Governor." PoliceMisconduct.net. CATO Institute, 27 June 2012. Web. <http://www.policemisconduct.net/jury-nullification-law-signed-new-hampshire-governor/>.

Paul, Rich. "Arrested Activist Blackmailed by FBI, Fights Back!" Web log post. Facebook.com/rich.paul.freeman.  Facebook, 10 Apr. 2013. Web.  <https://www.facebook.com/notes/rich-paul-freeman/activist-entrapped-blackmailed-by-fbi-fights-back-part-1/372899792823749>.

Schlessinger, James B., Jr. "The Growth Operation for Freedom." Cannabis Culture. Cannabis Culture Marijuana Magazine, 9 Apr. 2010. Web. <http://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2010/04/09/Growth-Operation-Freedom>.

Taylor, Adam. "Pot Activist Risking Life In Jail Says He's A Victim Of FBI Persecution." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc., 6 June 2013. Web.  <http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-paul-says-fbi-targeted-libertarians-2013-6>.



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