Israel Rangel was charged with possession of less than a gram of cocaine. Cops said he had half as much coke as there is Sweet’N Low in a single packet.
When citizens showed up in court to pick a jury, it started the way all cases do.
“The prosecutor asked a question to the first 65 people,” Dupont said.
“The jurors if they believed beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense was committed, would they convict?” Walker said.
“I was surprised, first of all, of the bluntness of the question,” juror Lou Ellen Wheeler said.
But Wheeler – who was eventually picked for the jury – was even more surprised by the answers. She said yes, but 50 out of 130 jurors said no, they would not convict someone even if it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“I was surprised it was that many,” Walker said.
One juror was more blunt than the others.
“She said, ‘I can’t believe I had to get in my car and come down here for this,’” Dupont said.
“It says there is a segment of the population that doesn’t think small possession cases should be punished as severely as the law call for them to be,” Assistant District Attorney Julian Ramirez said.
This isn’t a so-called trace case, the DA says she won’t prosecute. A trace is equal to single grain of equal; this was 40 times that. The law is clear.
“It’s against the law,” Ramirez said.
But Rangel’s defense lawyer says something else is clear too.
“They said they weren’t going to make somebody a felon and ruin their lives over less than a gram of cocaine,” Dupont said.
The defendant was acquitted.