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2021 COA 71. No. 18CA0332. People v. Scott.

Sixth Amendment—Right to Jury Trial—Jury Nullification.

May 27, 2021


Defendant was charged with attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or distribute in connection with a package he received through the mail. He represented himself at trial on a theory that cocaine should be legal. While testifying in his own defense, defendant tried to ask the jury to exercise its nullification power and acquit him. The district court ordered him to stop testifying about jury nullification and warned him that he could be held in contempt if he continued to discuss it. During cross-examination, defendant admitted that he knew the package contained cocaine, that he had ordered the cocaine, and that he had intended to sell it. The jury found defendant guilty of attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

On appeal, defendant argued that he had a constitutional right to ask the jury to acquit him notwithstanding the law and the evidence, and the district court violated this right by preventing him from telling the jurors of their acquittal power. However, there is no constitutional right to jury nullification. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion by precluding defendant from urging jury nullification, nor did it err by invoking its authority to hold him in contempt if he continued to discuss the topic.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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