06 September 2012

SEPT - PART 2: KNOW YOUR JURY RIGHTS

And here is part 2. Yes: the citations have been renumbered.
 There is another major item that the police, prosecutors and even a lot of 

judges don't want you or anybody else to know about.

     The concept is most commonly known as the "Fully Informed Jury” or 

Jury Nullification.

If a juror accepts as the law that which the judge states then that juror has accepted the exersize of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered a power and right that once was the citizen's safegaurd of liberty.
George Bankroft -- History of the Constitution


  "In criminal cases juries remained the judges of both law and fact 

for approximately fifty years after the Revolution. However, the 

judges in America, just as in England after the Revolution of 1688, 

gradually asserted themselves increasingly through their 

instructions on the law. We recognize, as appellants urge, the 

undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary 

to the law as given by the judge and contrary to the evidence." U.S. v Moylan, 417 F.2d 1002,1006 (1969)1


        The fact is that, in complete opposition to what most cops and judges will 

tell you, the jury is the highest and final legal authority in America. 12 

people can, no matter what the facts, evidence and/or instructions from the 

judge, acquit any defendant according to their conscience. No on can 

challenge this decision and jurors cannot be punished in any way for 

acquitting.


       In a nutshell: ”You are NOT obligated to enforce a bad law! You do 



NOT have to send people to jail who you don't think deserve to go 

there, regardless of what the law says!2





      If it wasn't for jury nullification, slavery would still be legal. So would 


burning witches. Prohibition would still be in force and you could be fined for 


driving on Sunday.




     In this great country of ours both houses of congress have to vote on and 


pass legislation. Then, if the president signs it, it becomes the law of the  


land.      
 

The police and courts enforce the law. 




     If someone thinks that the new law violates the constitution, our Supreme 


Court will review it and either decide that it is ok, or they may strike down 


part or all of it. 
 

    Theoretically, that's it. If you violate a law, you're punished with fines, jail 


or death.





       Sometimes though, a bad law will make it through all those check points 


and still be law. When that happens, there is still one more place where a 


law can be struck down. The Jury.





  “William Penn may have thought he had settled the matter. Arrested in 1670 



for preaching Quakerism, Penn was brought to trial. Despite Penn's 

 

admitting the charge, four of the 12 jurors voted to acquit.The judge sent the 



four to jail "without meat, drink, fire and tobacco" for failing to find Penn 



guilty. On appeal, however, the jurors' action was upheld and the right of 



 juries to judge both the law and the facts -- to nullify the law if it chose -- 

became part of British constitutional law.3





     Watch this 3 minute video from Maui County Citizens for Democracy
 


talking about your rights and duties as a juror.


video




Jury acquittal of a defendant who is technically guilty, but who does not 

 
deserve punishment, is called "jury nullification." In the American legal 



system, the jury's power to nullify is unquestionable. The District of Columbia 



Court of Appeals -- the second highest court in the United States -- explains 



 that the jury has an "unreviewable and irreversible power...to acquit in 



disregard of the instruction on the law given by the trial judge..." U.S. v. 

Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1139 (1972)4




      Serving on a jury is seen by many (including my wife, quite recently) as a 


nuisance and a burden. Some people will try everything they can think of to 


avoid serving and fulfilling their patriotic obligation. 




     Recently, I heard a line in a TV drama [Law and Order, I think] with a 


defense attorney saying “Do you really want to leave your future in the hands 


of 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty?”.



       Serving on a jury should be seen as an honor. Without juries, we have no 


system of justice. Any tyrant could subject us to oppressive and unjust laws 


and we would be powerless to fight them. Jury duty is absolutely as 


important  as voting. Those two actions are what set us apart as a free 


country and are without a doubt, the most important and admirable things 
 

we can do as Americans.




     Please. If you are called to serve on a jury, do it. Serve with pride. Give it 


your best. Help keep America great.


At least that's my opinion. What's yours?


See also:
Fully-Informed Juries


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