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Montana Jury Stages 'Mutiny' In Marijuana Case

First Posted: 12/22/10 02:04 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

Marijuana Mutiny

A marijuana mutiny? According to a prosecutor in Missoula County, Mont., potential jurors made it clear they wouldn't convict anyone for possessing a few buds of pot. District Judge Dusty Deschamps found it impossible to seat a jury, and decided to work out a plea bargain for the man in question, Touray Cornell, instead.

The Missoulian reports:

"I thought, 'Geez, I don't know if we can seat a jury,' " said Deschamps, who called a recess.

And he didn't.

During the recess, Paul and defense attorney Martin Elison worked out a plea agreement. That was on Thursday.

On Friday, Cornell entered an Alford plea, in which he didn't admit guilt. He briefly held his infant daughter in his manacled hands, and walked smiling out of the courtroom.

"Public opinion, as revealed by the reaction of a substantial portion of the members of the jury called to try the charges on Dec. 16, 2010, is not supportive of the state's marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances," according to the plea memorandum filed by his attorney.

"A mutiny," said Paul.

"Bizarre," the defense attorney called it.

In his nearly 30 years as a prosecutor and judge, Deschamps said he's never seen anything like it.

Authorities reportedly worry that Cornell's situation will set a precedent for prosecuting future drug cases in Montana.

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Filed by Carly Schwartz  |