KEENE, NH — As Rich Paul sits in jail, supporters this week announced plans for an appeal of his marijuana conviction. New Hampshire’s most prominent advocate for cannabis legalization could be released during the appeals process.
During his trial, jury nullification was the basis of Paul’s defense strategy. New Hampshire is unique among the states, in that defense attorneys have the right to argue nullification before a jury.
However, in his instructions to the jury, the judge told the jurors that they “must follow my instructions, and ignore the statements of the lawyer,” thus the foundation of the appeal.
Mr. Paul faces sentencing on June 7th, after which he will be moved from the county jail to the state prison system, though with his honor intact.
While the appeals process may release him temporarily, everyone hopes for an appeals victory which would completely free him. More than that, an appeal done well and successfully will set precedent in drug cases based on jury nullification.
The precedent would be binding only in NH, but the case law could have some degree of effect nationwide. It would also be a motivation for legal theorists and legislators across the county to work for further change.