Yesterday morning I got up bright and early to be at the Hillsborough County Superior Court – South in Nashua by 9am. I awoke a man facing a possible 16 years in a NH prison, for the crime of being in possession of, and willfully giving a marijuana cigarette amassing 0.46 grams to an undercover police officer with the Nashua Problem Oriented Policing Unit.
It was a judge/lawyer day, meaning mostly trial management conferences that only require the prosecutor and defense attorney. The two join the judge at her bench, leaving any defendants in the cheap seats. Strangely, though, the attendance of the defendant is mandatory. As my own trial management conference began without me, the prosecutor let my lawyer know she was filing a nolle prosequi motion for the felony charge. I feel this decision was not so much a decision based on morality, or ethics, but was rather a strategic decision. By dropping the charge my maximum possible sentence dropped from a maximum of 16 years in prison to a near certainty that’d I’d spend less than one year in jail. Even though discussion of possible sentencing is not allowed as a defense we all know the jury would be aware. I think its likely the prosecutor expected them to be aware, as well.
It should be pointed out that the prosecutor let me, my lawyer AND the judge know, early on, that she believed I did not deserve to spend more than a day in jail for my supposed crimes. She was speaking of probation, a suspended sentence and a fine, but I think its reasonable to assume she did not wish to be partly responsible for my possible decade-plus incarceration. Thus by filing the motion she deprived me of one of my most emotionally powerful arguments for nullification. She just wants a win. Any win.