Not guilty: Jury acquits in two pot-plant case

In a case closely watched by civil liberties groups and law enforcement, Philip Cobbs was found not guilty of possession of marijuana in a day-long jury trial.

Cobbs, a 54-year-old who takes care of his elderly mother, was arrested last summer after a marijuana eradication helicopter flew over his southeastern Albemarle home and spotted two pot plants near his house. A team of approximately 10 law enforcement agents drove up bearing semi-automatic weapons and confiscated the illegal plants. A month later, he received a summons to court.

His case was taken up by the Albemarle-based Rutherford Institute, which focuses on Constitutional issues. Cobb was convicted of possession in October, and appealed the case.

"I feel like justice finally was done," said Cobbs after a seven-person jury deliberated for about two hours– including a dinner of Domino's pizza– July 18.

Cobbs maintained that he didn't know the plants were growing in an overgrown area in his backyard.

Arguments revolved around whether Cobbs was expressing surprise or admission when he remarked to one of the gun-toting officers that he didn't think such an effort would be waged against such a small amount of contraband.

"It's not the crime of the century folks," Albemarle prosecutor Matthew Quatrara acknowledged in his closing. "But it is the law."

With a majority of Americans now saying they don't think pot should be illegal– 56 percent, according to a recent Rasmussen survey– the prosecution demanded that the jury entertain no effort to practice nullification. Prior to opening arguments, the judge dismissed six potential jurors– including five of the first 13 interviewed– for revealing a disinclination or refusal to convict someone of pot possession.

"The law does not permit you to invalidate your finding of guilt," prosecutor Quatrara reminded jurors in his closing argument, "based on your disagreement with the the law."

He added that disapproval with police tactics was another invalid reason reason for acquittal. (The firepower, he noted, may stem from the uncertainty of any drug bust; as for a helicopter, he called that "an efficient way to see marijuana.")

In the end, according to at least one juror, it boiled down to reasonable doubt and not to an example of jury nullification.

"We stuck to the facts," said juror Jeannette Kerlin, a former Scottsville town councilor. "I don't agree with the law, but that doesn't mean I don't abide by it."

Citing the lack of photographic evidence from police, which offered up one picture of two pot plants, but none of the deer netting and stakes they said surrounded the plants, Kerlin said, "I personally did not believe that the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt."

The jury instructions noted that a conviction required that Cobbs had "dominion" over the plants.

"They never proved that he had dominion over those plants," said Kerlin. "Mr. Cobbs has a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old son, and they have friends over there. Did Mr. Cobbs actually know about it? Dunno."

According to Kerlin, two members of the jury were initially leaning toward conviction, but after presentations of everyone's thoughts, they reached unanimity with "a lot of talking" and "no arguing."

"The jury worked extremely hard for not quite two-and-a-half hours on a very difficult case," prosecutor Quatrara said after the verdict.

"I think they looked at the evidence," said defense attorney Andrew Sneathern.

"This is a good victory for Albemarle County," says John Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute founder, who objects to law enforcement flying over houses looking for pot plants when the Bill of Right guarantees that that citizens shall not be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures and that searches require warrants from the court.

"Make these guys go after a warrant," says Whitehead. "They ran roughshod over the Fourth Amendment. Drones are next."

"The jury system works," Whitehead adds. "The best way to win a case is with the jury system of your peers."

Whitehead says he remembers asking Cobbs the first day Cobbs came into his office why he was fighting the charge. "He said," relates Whitehead, "It just wasn't right."

~

This posting originally consisted just of the sidebar on the difficulty of seating a jury until around 10:30pm when this story about the acquittal was uploaded.–editor

Updated July 22 with Rasmussen survey results that 56 percent of Americans support legalization and regulation of marijuana.

56 comments

It is entirely constituional for a JUROR to nullify themselves by going against the law if they believe the law is wrong.

It is only unethical for a lawyer to tell the jury this in court.

Go ahead and get on the jury and then vote your conscience. If you are a "peer" that should be good enough. As long as you don't know the guy then you can be impartial. You are not the judges or prosecutors Bi$%H

I was called in for jury duty this past spring for a case involving a middle-aged man for possession of pot. All of us were incensed at the waste of our time and tax dollars to be asked to do this.

Lisa has just updated the story with the verdict: Not Guilty.--hawes spencer

I know Jeannette Kerlin and she's a fine upstanding expressive thinker. I served on Town Council with her. If you believe the law is wrong, then you have the right to vote your belief.

"It is entirely constituional for a JUROR to nullify themselves by going against the law if they believe the law is wrong."

Great example of self nullification dude! To paraphrase Ghandi , I like your Pot. I do not like your Potheads. They are so unlike your Pot.

Jury nullification of the laws makes the people the final authority. There should be a nationwide ad campaign telling people to stop taking plee deals and jurors to stop convicting non-violent drug offenders.

"The law does not permit you to invalidate your finding of guilt," prosecutor Quatrara reminded jurors in his closing argument, "based on your disagreement with the the law."

True, but the law does permit the jury to not find guilt in the first place, based on their disagreement with the law.

What a sneaky devil prosecutor Quatrara is.

Again, comments here people are completely missing the point - there is reasonable doubt Cobbs even knew of those plants on his property, as noted, he has others coming on to that property who could have planted them. I dare say any of you who own property know every plant that is on it (unless you have practically no acreage). I know we have just over a half acre and some is wooded, I can't identify every plant on it.

It doesn't matter if you are against the laws as they exist today or if you are for them, it is the fact there is reasonable doubt period.

But it does matter that jurors educate themselves and understand how to exercise their rights in coming to a verdict.

I have a problem with people who say they dont agree with a law but abide by it in certain instances. This is one of them. The cause of the civil rights movement was no doubt held back years because of peoples' acceptance of law despite its unjust nature. Alternately, the emancipation of slaves was at least partly aided by escalating tensions when northerners refused to follow the law and didnt return runaways. Our nation was founded on law breaking on moral grounds, and the most revered civil rights leader preached civil disobedience. It is an not just an America's right, sometimes it is their obligation. I'm beginning to see the pattern of this article repeated. Feds and prohibitionists are afraid and rightfully so. Collective righteous willpower is difficult to overcome.

Prosecutor's jobs are to get convictions - not seek justice - that's a canard. The system is designed to be adversarial with both sides seeking to win, not for either counsel to "find justice". So, attacking Quatrara for doing his job is like the frog accusing the scorpion when the scorpion is just being true to his nature.

I think Whitehead is a bit of a radical, but in this case he is exactly right: drones are next. It's a complete side-stepping of our privacy rights and the concept of curtilage.

I should further add: while the prosecutor - trying to win - might try to persuade you that it's illegal to vote to acquit simply because you feel the law is unjust, but that is your constitutional right as a juror - the fundamental seekers of "justice" in our system are the jury of our peers - other non-lawyers, and people not PAID to prosecute and incarcerate.

@Native - I agree: there was ample room for reasonable doubt. Clearly the Law Enforcement Drug Prosecution "complex" - private prisons and paramilitary police forces - have long grown accustomed to side-stepping courts and trials by using the plea-deal shortcut. They've gotten lazy and the quality of the cases they put together has declined. They assume that even minimal circumstantial evidence is sufficient, when coupled with threats of forfeiture and the like, to induce voluntary guilty pleas.

Non-resident taxpayer --

It's been noted that if everyone who is arrested were to exercise their right to a trial, the court system would be overwhelmed and the entire justice system would come grinding to a halt. That's how out-of-control this situation has become...

-- B

"prosecution demanded that the jury entertain no effort to practice nullification"

Get used to it POLICE STATE , The people are waking up .

All this million dollar equipment (helicopter etc.) and no 10 cent photo that would prove the occupants of the house knew about it.

Kudos to the Rutherford Institute for their involvement in this case. Had not known they were expanding their outreach to 4th Amendment cases as well. Good job.

33] In 1988, the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury instruction that "There is no such thing as valid jury nullification." however one of the dissenting judges pointed out that in United States v. Wilson, 629 F. 2d 439 - Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit 1980 that the panel had unanimously decided "In criminal cases, a jury is entitled to acquit the defendant because it has no sympathy for the government's position."

Jury nullification is the ultimate form of justice. It is a good and proper way for the people to keep a check and prevent a police state. I disagree that civil disobedience should become a matter of practice for laws you do not like, but if an officer or jurisdiction is overzealous with its enforcment or prosecutes petty crimes because of an agenda, then the defendants "peers" should certainly have their say. It certainbly seemed to work out in this case.

I don't believe that is really Jeff Spicoli, not enough 'dudes' in the writing.

This Quatrarra's spewing the same Zug-speak about their obligation to prosecute. It never was like that, anywhere, and juries always had their conscience to oblige, not some nutjob's take on duty.
These people have done tons of good work for lots of victims, but let's get them OUT asap.

Robert, what is your beef with Zug? I read your other note on another story, but it didn't make sense to me to have a public defender for a divorce trial and what Zug had to do with any of it. (I mean, you weren't married to Mr. Zug, were you?)

Stopping at every Stop sign is the law Mr. Quatrara. I wonder how many times you and the judge have broken the law?

This was a total waste of energy...good for The Hooker though!

mitch... just because YOU think a law is wrong does not make it so.. there are those who would blow up an abortion clinic because they think the doctors are murders and the law is not protecting the civil rights of the unborn.

This is not 1850 or 1960 and we have ways to change laws since despite whinely minorities claims there is way more harmony among the different groups then ever before. The gay marriage laws are a great example. Non gays supported the issue in record numbers.

civil disobedience should only be used after all else fails.
Most civil disobedients these days are whiney crybabies who want something for nothing or if they want something are unwilling to work half as hard as their forefathers to get it.

The best part of this article was the comment by the judge that there were difficulties in the recent past convening a jury for similar cases. It is encouraging to note that regular folks think it's a huge waste of public resources persecuting people for growing weed. Maybe if enough people like Cobb appeal their initial Kangaroo Court convictions and the state encounters consistent enough trouble getting juries to convict, then maybe this annual stupidity with Helicopters and heavily armed Einsatzgruppen will come to a stop.

Jury nullification is part and parcel of our legal system. Matthew Quatrara, and the rest of the police and prosecutorial culture, need to learn some respect for the law. Perhaps they can go find a job in Texas or Iran if they don't like it here.

At the end of the day, all those involved in the criminal justice system have justified their jobs. People being shot and killed on the streets, and they chase after 2 marijuana plants. It's really sad.

Mr. Spicoli-

Jury nullification is part of the law. It's not "civil disobedience".

"The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy." -John Jay, 1st Chief Justice, U. S. Supreme Court

Thanks go to the Rutherford Institute and to the law firm of Sneathern & Lhospital, who donated their services.

John Rutherford made an interesting comment on the Coy Barefoot show this afternoon, why didn't the cops google this man ? If they had they would have learned that he was a retired school teacher .
I'm horrified by the force that was used in this case and baffled how this could have occurred with all the knowledge available today about those living in our community. Unless there are real consequences this will happen again.

Is there any way Mr. Cobbs can sue the police for the harm they have caused him ?

I don't smoke Pot, I don't grow Pot, AND I don't appreciate the yearly prescence of low flying helicopters provided by state and local government inspecting me without reasonable cause! NOT to mention importation of non- native insects and governments unwillingness to accept its' responsibilities to all of us law abiding citizens. We are a people governed by the people, NOT GOVERNMENT!!!!

As a "right winger" even I believe marijuana for personal use should be legalized. It really does seem to be a waste of resources. Relaxing with some bud or a Bud with friends is perfectly acceptable. AS LONG as you don't drive impaired.

DUIs causing mayhem, meth, crack, and heroin peddlers though should be hung by their feet and disemboweled in public along with the kiddie pervs.

There are legitimate uses for SWAT tactics and assaults with overwhelming force, but if law enforcement thought this case called for those means, their intelligence functions are pitiful. Most likely the law enforcement agencies involved viewed this case as a training opportunity. But if you get the Ramboneheads wound up tight enough, often enough, sooner or later, something ugly is goingto happen. What do you suppose this operation cost, just the police part? $30K? $50K? But I guess if you write it off to training ...

My Utopia --

I guess you would want to see a lot of psychiatrists publicly executed then, since methamphetamine is legal by prescription -- and it is even given to children. What makes you think heroine is substantially worse than pharmaceutical grade opiates? What makes you single out crack, as opposed to powder cocaine?

Marijuana is not the only drug that needs to be legalized; the entire prohibition policy, the entire war on drugs, needs to be dismantled, and we need to enact more sensible approaches to dealing with drug abuse problems. We should be ashamed to have the largest prison population on Earth, and we should be ashamed to be using paramilitary teams to attack people -- regardless of what drug those people were accused of possessing, producing, or distributing.

Even with all the treatment programs in the world you'll still have those that will victimize people to feed their habits or force their stupidity on others causing mayhem. Those are the ones that need to be permanently removed from society. I am all about clearing the prison population. I'd say meth and heroin addicts robbing people are not to be equated to psych doctors nor to prescribed opiates for cancer patients. Typical liberal idiocy.

Yeah, it's "liberal" idiocy to think that people are abusing pharmaceutical drugs...

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-1561324.html

The majority of drug users and even drug abusers are not robbing people or victimizing people.

Far more money and resources into to U.S. military guarding the opium fields in Afghanistan than into marijuana eradication. And that's to say nothing of the human lives that go into it. It's an admitted fact. Gotta guard it so rebels don't get hold of it. @:o{ )

No, I don't mean the rebels are gonna sneak into the fields in the middle of the night, slit the pods, and harvest the ooze while the villagers are asleep. Although they probably could if Pat Tillman's old buddys weren't there guarding them.

@ NancyDrew "John Rutherford made an interesting comment on the Coy Barefoot show this afternoon, why didn't the cops google this man ? If they had they would have learned that he was a retired school teacher "

I think this case is ridiculous, but what does a defendant's former occupation have to do with guilt or innocence no matter what the charges? I've personally smoked with a few active teachers, a few more who became teachers, and at least one who was married to a teacher. One of the active teachers taught at my high school. I doubt if the world has changed much in the 20 years since then.

Did Rutherford get that shirt from Dwight Schrute?

really, I cant believe that so many people find a need to comment on this case. So this case was not guilty. The next 25 will be guilty. Why because it is against the law period and to the point. Those who think it should be legal need to think about how they would feel if someone were smoking marijuana around their 5 year old child would you all be willing to have your child subjected to the effects off marijuana? no need to respond i have wasted enough of my time reading this crap.

Is the gov't going to forfeit Mr. Cobb's house? This smells like a forfeiture motivated case.

Of course. It wasn't the two plants that interested them, it was the fact that they were on a 35 acre farm. And it's not marijuana they're interested in eradicating, it's the competition with the Mexican cartels the U.S. government has been supporting (as fast and furious has made unequivocally clear) and partnering with. The less local marijuana available the more cartel-sourced marijuana Virginian smokers will have to buy. Same principle nationwide. Pretty elementary.

Jeff Spicoli,
I agree that using the structures already in place to change unwanted policy should be the primary course of action, but anyone who has looked seriously at the history of marijuana prohibition will quickly see a series of bureaucratic blocks repeatedly perpetrated by a government that has lied to its people for decades. Now with 70% of the US supporting medical marijuana, the Federal stance on weed is in clear contradiction to the American populace, yet there is no budge in federal policy or mindset. The science has been behind loosening marijuana restrictions since Nixon first commissioned research into the drug during the 1960's.

Further, civil disobedience is something to be applied very specifically. In the term is the inherent respect for others. It was civilly disobedient for blacks to merely enter places they were barred from in the segregated south. It is not civilly disobedient to murder people. Ever. Whether you believe that abortion clinics are evil or if they are just. It is civilly disobedient to grow 2 ganja plants because you like to roll a spliff at night. There is a matter of degree that needs to be taken into account, and to suggest that blowing up abortion clinics and owning 2 ganja plants should be measured in the same light is intellectually unsound by almost any measure.

I would like to see these statistics that you have for "Most civil disobedients these days are whiney crybabies who want something for nothing" or did you just make that up on the spot based on biased and potentially inaccurate observations?

Mr Utopia,
You should brush up on your conservative economists. Some of the foremost believe that repealing drug prohibition would make the lives of users and the general population better.

Mr. Zug and Mr. Quatrara are being subjected to unfair criticism. Both are competent and trustworthy professionals. The problem is, in an overreaction to criticisms (that were not entirely fair either), that the former Commonwealth's Attorney, Mr. Camblos, did not always prosecute vigorously enough or at all, the current policy is to prosecute every marginally arguable case. When you prosecute at these margins, you win a soccer assault case here and lose a 2 marijuana plants case there.

After losing in the lower court , a client who would not want her name published, appealed to Circuit Court but couldn't afford a jury trial. Nevertheless, with her job on the line, she was relegated to a judge trial. After being stopped on the interstate along with 2 passengers ready to go camping , the Trooper smelled a stale odor of marijuana. In the ashtray was partially but not recently smoked joint that had been left there the night before by the young woman's disloyal boyfriend. In addition to speeding, her only mistake was not wanting to cause trouble destroying her boyfriend's weed. The trooper also searched the entire vehicle, it's occupants and their camping gear. No other marijuana, alcohol or any kind of contraband was found. Ownership is irrelevant. Only knowledgeable possession needed to be proved. Since the argument was there, the Commonwealth refused to back down. Fortunately, Judge Higgins found a reasonable doubt in the case. Nevertheless, the public has a right to ask local prosecutors to better spend their tax dollars and to offer explanations for why so many marginal prosecutions clog our courts.

@ NancyDrew July 19th, 2012 | 7:12am

But it does matter that jurors educate themselves and understand how to exercise their rights in coming to a verdict.

So true, so many never understand! It is the jury, 12 people in criminal trials that have been given the power to be human first!

Jury nullification is the greatest gift, maybe someday you [ Not Nancy Drew, you as in everybody] will know that the only chance you have in court is for the jury, that is often not well versed in the law should act as humans!

In a homicide, assault or attempt case, no matter what proof or DNA or video evidence is presented the following is true, lawful and the best of American Judicial system. If that SOB so called victim is shown by the attorneys and wittnesses that they deserved to be killed or get their arse beat than the accused can be set free! NOT GUILTY!

Now this case, is so beneath those standards it is just such a waste of time, resources and money!

How stupid could the prosecutor be! Fire him or her!

Just what type of bush was burning in the land where Moses got his message? GEEEEEZZZE! Kush!

I'm sure her boyfriend would have understood if she had eaten the partially smoked joint upon being pulled over by the State Trooper unless he was a complete jerk. They ought to put some of these State Troopers on leashes and have them sniff around vehicles suspected of containing marijuana, they'd save money on dog food and they'd probably find more contraband than the dogs.

What kind of idiot leaves a roach in the ashtray anyway?

Mr. Heilberg,
Sounds like just because you're The Hook's new go-to that maybe Team Lunsford expects you to cry "unfair."
Zug goes way beyond "marginally arguable."

America’s drug laws, and its three-decades old War on Drugs, are dumber than dumb. Perhaps that’s especially true with marijuana. As journalist Eric Schlosser reported, “in the federal system, about one out of every six federal inmates is in federal prison for marijuana. That's a very large number. There are more people now in federal prison for marijuana offenses than for violent offenses.”

Even narrow-minded people like televangelist Pat Robertson (of the 700 Club and Regent University) now think that marijuana should be decriminalized. Robertson said this Spring that "It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore."  [To be fair, Robertson incorrectly blamed tough marijuana laws on “liberals,” and he said that “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Uh-huh.]

Drug-related incarcerations exploded after 1986, when Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. That law required mandatory minimum sentences. Since then, drug convictions have increased thirteen-fold, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, and the U.S. imprisons far more its population – both numerically and proportionally –– than any other country.

It is an exercise in stupidity. But it doesn’t stop with use and possession. It includes science and medicine too.

As The Washington Post reported last year, “there is a drug that has been shown to alleviate the symptoms” of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, “Veterans Affairs doctors can’t recommend it, and the federal government won’t allow research to proceed that could prove its effectiveness. What’s the drug? Marijuana.”

As The Post noted, “research...is a victim of marijuana politics. Under federal law, a drug is considered most harmful — and placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I — if it has ‘no currently accepted medical use.”’Although marijuana was listed as a medicine in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia before its prohibition and was widely used for dozens of conditions, Congress temporarily placed it in Schedule I in 1970, pending the outcome of a government study. The study, produced by a national commission on drug abuse, ultimately concluded that marijuana’s harmful effects were so limited for light and moderate users that it should not even be a criminal offense to use it. But its status as a Schedule I drug has not changed.”

It gets worse. The Post article reports that “in 1988 by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge, Francis Young, who wrote: ‘Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. . . . It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.’ He concluded that the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act “permit and require” the transfer of marijuana from Schedule I to a less restrictive category. Yet the DEA administrator did not reclassify marijuana. Since that time, the agency has denied two other rescheduling petitions, most recently in July.”

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/our-troops-deserve-an-effective-t...

At some point, politicians will be forced to re-examine not only marijuana laws (and punishments) but also the entire (and failed) “war” on drugs. Until that time, perhaps it’s best to try and find some humor amidst the ignorance and parochialism, and Stephen Colbert often does that pretty well.

See: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/415388/june-14-20...

Heilberg for Commonwealth Attorney.

Got to mention: "MADE IN AMERICA"

I am serious, I live in L.A. so we can grow the best ever. We can cook the best edibles [no second hand smoke]. We could tax it, export it just like Jack Daniels. Virginia could grow some fine blends, the bi-product is hemp, sell that to TEXAS so the Governor can make nooses and keep hanging people.

Send people to the boarder in Arizona and the others with signs our marijuana is better!

Set up classes so the entrepreneurs can file all of the papers, use American's to manicure, pick and recycle. Pay them, take out taxes give them health care. Save our medical insurance crisis, replace all of the drugs for nausea.

We export so much cheese cake, think about the brownies. The restaurants can serve edibles, that go with Red or white wine. Hash oil may not be the best lubricant, but hey lets see about bio-fuels.

All of those papers we see in the bills proposed in Washington could be put on hemp paper.

Virginia has at-least a couple of old moonshiners that went legit. They need CPA's and paper pushers. Go to Russia, China, Australia, Europe- you think they like Marlboro's, Jack Daniels, Coca-cola, Levi's- wait to they get a hold of our stuff!

Drop tons of the stuff by air to Persia and Syria! Fast food chains will love it, and I am sure with new diet pill approved the pharmacy companies will love it, so will the fast food chains. We can knock out glaucoma in our generation,. Maybe at soccer matches instead of hooligans fighting and killing each other, they sing together and take a nap at half time.

I say make it America, tax it, package it! County fairs can have chocolate fried, edibles with bacon on a hemp stick!

Maybe all these gangs would then go into the legit, those with hard core drugs- we focus on them! Save our borders! Marijuana grown, rolled, cooked and MADE IN AMERICA!

Next Olympics, The USA and Russian athletes can wear uniforms consisting of USA hemp fiber and MADE IN AMERICA!

By the way, have any of these helicopters ever found coca plants, or poppies growing in national parks? Save the planet, GO GREEN!

@ democracy July 21st, 2012 | 10:04am

Well posted! Those helicopters could have been used for missing people, homicide victims, lost hitchhikers and mentally ill people looking for bears in abandoned rail toad tunnels.

See, look at the waste follow the money!

Look at Carilion Clinic home to some of the top doctors in Virginia! Does UVA fund this, mixed messages, I say! The pot is calling the kettle black! Pun intended!

michael sutton- "I live in L.A. "

Which is no doubt more deserving of the generous gift of your considerable intellect than those of us in Virginia are We'll just never learn out here, so please, please, please, stop wasting your time on us.

Do you still call French fries Freedom Fries. Are you going to tell me that Virgina started the trowing the tea into the harbor at the start of the Revolution. Virginia is a State, call it a common wealth, than ask how many stars are the flag!

The nest president, hopefully the current president will select at least one new supreme court justice. I am not talking about Dianna Ross and her back-ups.

I pay taxes in Virginia, at a much higher rate than Romney! So, every one to cut the waste. This case was a waste of money, at least this time you didn't hang the man!

The helicopters, the johnnies on the gun, loaded up on red bull and coffee looking for two pot plants with rifles and scopes. The DA office, even daring to go through a jury selection process is a waste of money!

I don't have to be from L.A. or TN to tell you bud, you can't see the forest due to the tress. Or the other way around! C'ville has people posting on another article that are so intelligent. C'ville has many many great minds!

Maybe this subject is beneath them, rightfully so!

Virginia does not me to to explain life. But you my bud, need some dressing down!

Two pot plants???? I would to knww how much money and man hours were spent!

It is just plain and simple stupid as sh_t!

Sorry big foot, hope you do not swallow it!

Michael Sutton said: “. . . and mentally ill people looking for bears in abandoned rail toad tunnels.”

Shame on you Mr. Sutton. I know the person you are referring to and how cruel of you to make jokes like this. I will not make a reference as to why I know, because that is what you want, someone to open the door so you have a chance to rant on your favorite subject. Nothing you say is amusing. I’m sure your posts will eventually become incoherent, as usual, and be deleted. I sincerely feel sorry for you. But you shouldn’t make fun of those who have serious problems they face bravely everyday. Shame. Some of the locals familiar with you continue to read the local news on The Hook; we know well what to expect of you, and generally ignore it, but even I was surprised by the new low of the above quote.

Apparently the mentally ill have access to the internet in Virginia, even if they don't live in the state. Pity that, there goes yet another discussion.

We have turned off the commenting here-- less due to the off-topic rants and more due to the fact that we have a new story on this topic: https://www.readthehook.com/104819/jury-nullification-elephant-room. (As usual, please follow the rules of commenting if you don't wanna get zapped.)--Hawes Spencer, Hook Editor