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article imageU.K. juror smokes joint during break, found in contempt of court

By Arthur Weinreb     May 20, 2012 in Odd News
Manchester - While serving on a jury at a rape trial, Shezad Hussain was seen by another juror smoking a joint outside the courthouse. He was found in contempt of court and fined £450.
The trial was almost over. All that was left was for the judge to summarize the evidence called during the week long child rape case and send the jury out to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.
During the break, a juror sitting on another case saw Hussain steps away from Bolton Crown Court in Greater Manchester puffing on a joint. She waited until the 26-year-old discarded the marijuana before picking it up and handing it over to police. Hussain originally denied using marijuana in front of the courthouse but confessed after a police officer told him a DNA test would be conducted.
As reported by the Independent, the rape trial was adjourned while Hussain was investigated and lawyers argued about what should be done. Last Monday, Hussain was kicked off the jury, charged with contempt of court, and told he should contact a solicitor.
On Friday, Hussain appeared in Manchester Crown Court before the same judge who presided over the rape trial. The store clerk's lawyer, Ben Lawrence, told the court Hussain occasionally smokes marijuana when he is under stress as he was on that day. He was stressed by the pressure of the trial and a violent robbery that occurred at the family's corner store the week before.
Lawrence added that this was the only time Hussain smoked during the trial and only did so after a friend passed by and gave him the joint. This was consistent with the evidence of the police that when he was searched, he was not in possession any marijuana or rolling papers.
The judge, Recorder Nicholas Clarke, Q.C., fined Hussain the sum of £450 ($712 US). According to the BBC, this amounted to two weeks salary. Clarke was quoted by the Manchester Evening News as saying, You have embarrassed yourself and brought shame on yourself. Defendants, witnesses and the public are entitled to expect that those who come to do jury service do so without taking drugs. The fact you took the drug so blatantly outside the court is an aggravating factor.
The remaining jurors were unable to reach a verdict and a new trial will be held.
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