Paul Butler, professor of law at Georgetown Law, researches and teaches in the areas of criminal law, race relations law, and critical theory. Prior to joining the academy, he served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption. His prosecutions included a U.S. senator, three FBI agents, and several other law enforcement officials. While at the DOJ, Butler also worked as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, prosecuting drug and gun cases. One of the nations most frequently consulted scholars on issues of race and criminal justice, Butler has been featured across academic and popular media. His scholarship has been published in leading scholarly journals, including Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and UCLA Law Review. He is the author of the widely reviewed Lets Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, which received the Harry Chapin Media award.
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Paul Butler, author of Lets Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, talks about jury nullification, and current issues in the war on drugs and criminal justice with Post-Exchange reporter Jamie Loo.
If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote not guilty even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.
I have jury duty on July 2, and I can't wait. If I get put on a jury in a non-violent drug case, I'll vote "not guilty," based on my principles -- even if I think the defendant actually did it.
The problem lies with power-drunk prosecutors and tough on crime lawmakers, who have enacted some of the worlds harshest sentencing laws. They mean well, but have created a system that makes a mockery of equal justice under the law.
Paul Butler used to send people to prison for drugs. Now he supports letting guilty drug offenders go.
Butler discusses his book Lets Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice and whether or not good people can be prosecutors.