Federal District Court Judge William G. Young is someone who has handled a lot of juries and a lot a questions from jurors. However, he insists that he has never encountered the likes of Thomas R. Eddlem, who started asking about basic questions of federal authority. As a former John Birch Society member, Eddlem had serious questions about the right to tell people what they could possess, including cocaine. Young kicked him off the jury because he suspected a jury nullification problem in the making.
After only an hour in the deliberations, Eddlem asked his first question: where, given the fact that it took an amendment to prohibit possession of alcohol, “is the constitutional grant of authority to ban mere possession of cocaine today?”
The 42-year-old technology coordinator at a Catholic high school then followed with other questions, until Young tossed him and reconstituted jury. The jury then Robert C. Luisi, a reputed Mafia lieutenant, of three cocaine-related charges.
It is an interesting question itself (not asked by Eddlem): can a judge strike a juror on the fear that he will engage in nullification because he asks such questions. Eddlem insists that he rejects jury nullification and was prepared to vote with the law as explained by the court. It could make for an intriguing appeal.
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