A New Hampshire marijuana advocate plans to appeal his 81-year prison sentence for selling weed.
According to Vice, Rich Paul refused plea deals when he was charged with four counts of delivery of marijuana (about a pound, according to CopBlock.org) and one count of delivery of LSD. Paul claims the drug was not exactly LSD, but rather a legal chemical compound.
He said that when he was arrested for selling drugs to a confidential informant, he was taken to an FBI agent, Philip Christiana, who attempted to recruit Paul as an informant. Paul says they wanted to put a wire on him when he went to meetings for a local political group. Paul also claims the FBI wanted him to lie to his friends about the arrest and encourage them to commit crimes.
He refused to help the FBI and instead went public about the incident, posting it on his Facebook. He even admitted to trying to sell marijuana to an FBI informant on multiple occasions.
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Before his trial started, he was offered a plea deal with no jail time, but refused on a matter of principal.
“Somebody had to stand up and say that this is wrong, and I thought I might well be that guy,” Paul told Vice in an email. “I took the risk and now we'll find out whether I bet my life well.”
He was hopeful the jury would nullify his marijuana charges. Instead he was sentenced to 81 years in prison.
“I wasn’t shocked,” he told Vice from jail. “Jury nullification is a long shot.”
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Nullification involves being acquitted even though the jury believes the defendant is guilty of the charges against them. This happens if the jury disagrees with the charges or thinks the law does not apply in this particular case.
Paul plans to file an appeal with the New Hampshire Supreme Court because he believes the judge misled jurors on what nullification is.
Judge John C. Kissinger allegedly didn’t touch upon the subject of jury nullification when he instructed the jury, according to the antigovernment activist organization Free Keene. It seems jurors were unclear on the concept. One juror told Free Keene, “We didn’t want to break the law” by handing over a not guilty verdict.
If Paul manages to overturn the verdict, he will set a New Hampshire precedent that will ensue juries are fully informed about jury nullification.