Federal Jury Nullification

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by ihopehefails, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. ihopehefails
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    ihopehefails BANNED

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    In the constitution it states that any federal crime being charged to any citizen that it must be a Jury trial and in that state where the crime took place. I believe that this was done in order to ensure that there would be a check on the federal government itself because a Jury of the accused peers from the same state meant that the jurors were people selected from the state itself. This ensured a jury that was biased towards the accused and it done one more thing and that was to ensure the possibility of jury nullification of federal law.

    I'm not sure about the history of juries and jury nullification but I think that it was always an accepted right of juries to nullify the enforcement of the law. This protected people from malicious prosecution and provided an essential check against the government and in this case it would be the federal government.

    This should be restored so that the federal law enforcement activities can be nullified in the states by a jury. It provides a check against the federal government in all cases.
     
  2. P F Tinmore
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    JURY:.Petty Juries, consisting usually of twelve men, attend courts to try matters of fact in civil causes, and to decide both the law and the fact in criminal prosecutions. The decision of a petty jury is called a verdict..
    American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster 1828

    In addition to veto power, our common law legal traditions also provide that if a jury decides to acquit, its decision is final. A verdict of "not guilty" cannot be overturned, nor can the judge harass the jurors for voting for acquittal, or punish them for voting their consciences, even after making them swear to follow the law as given by the judge! And jurors may be asked, but cannot be obliged, to explain their verdicts.

    The charge to the Jury in the first Jury trial before the supreme Court of the United States illustrates the true power of the Jury. In the February term of 1794, the supreme Court conducted a Jury trial and said: "...it is presumed, that the juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that the courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision."

    Trial by Jury

    by Clay S. Conrad

    Clay S. Conrad is the author of Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine, just published by Carolina Academic Press and the Cato Institute.

    Bill of Rights Day is a good time to take a step back from the controversies of the moment to ask ourselves why the Framers of the Constitution thought trial by jury was essential to preserving freedom. Although trial by jury is a fundamental American right, most of us have never made an effort to understand why that right was written into our Constitution -- and why this trial procedure is so rarely found in other countries.

    The jury was an essential safeguard of liberty long before the American Revolution. British courts guaranteed the independence of criminal trial juries in 1670, in a case concerning four jurors who had acquitted William Penn for illegally preaching about his Quaker beliefs. Those jurors were imprisoned for their "not guilty" verdict because they had ignored the trial judge's instructions to vote for Penn's conviction. An English appellate court released the jurors from prison, establishing the principle that juries cannot be punished for bringing in the "wrong" verdict. The freedom of American jurors to vote according to conscience can be traced to that landmark precedent.

    Early American jurors frequently refused to enforce the acts of Parliament in order to protect the rights of individuals. In 1735 a New York jury acquitted John Peter Zenger of seditious libel for publishing criticisms of a colonial governor, believing that Zenger had a right to print the truth. That jury had to ignore the instructions of the trial judge because it had been instructed that truth was no defense to the charge of seditious libel. We can thank independent juries for helping to establish freedom of the press on American soil.
    Jurors in early America knew that if a criminal law was unjust, they could -- and should -- refuse to enforce it. They could vote their conscience, and as free citizens they were expected to do so. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." John Adams said, "It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty . . . to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court."

    The purpose of trial by jury, as the Supreme Court itself has noted, is to prevent "oppression by the government." To perform that role, jurors must act independently and conscientiously, and they must be prepared to "just say no" if they believe that a conviction would be unjust.

    Non-cooperation with injustice was a social imperative that had led, in part, to the American Revolution. Jurors in early 19th-century America routinely refused to enforce the Alien and Sedition Act, just as jurors in mid-19th-century America widely rejected the Fugitive Slave Act and juries in early 20th-century America refused to enforce Prohibition. But toward the end of the 19th century, as the jury pool widened to include working-class men, blacks, and women, courts began to restrict the role of juries. That coincided with a change in attitudes about government in general. The idea emerged that juries had been an important check against King George III, but that their role must now adapt in light of our democratic law-making procedures. Our all-wise government could not allow citizen juries to retain a veto over laws that were enacted for the "public good."

    In 1895 the Supreme Court held that trial courts were not required to inform jurors of their power to refuse to convict, or to convict on lesser charges, if they believed a conviction on the facts proven at trial would be unjust. In the years since, American courts have misinterpreted that ruling as a blanket prohibition on informing jurors of their discretionary prerogative to "check" unjust laws.

    The result has been that juries have been restrained from exercising their veto. Today, jurors sometimes leave courtrooms in tears after convicting people they believed were morally (if not legally) innocent -- or after witnessing the harsh sentences handed down by judges at the sentencing phase of seemingly minor cases. That is exactly the sort of travesty trial by jury was intended to prevent. If the law were just and justly applied, jurors would have no reason to regret their verdicts, or the sentences that are meted out later by judges.

    The purpose of trial by jury, as the Supreme Court itself has noted, is to prevent "oppression by the government." To perform that role, jurors must act independently and conscientiously, and they must be prepared to "just say no" if they believe that a conviction would be unjust. Nothing else satisfies the purpose of trial by jury, or provides the protection to liberty that the Founders intended to provide in our Bill of Rights.
     
  3. P F Tinmore
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    It is interesting that no one considers jury nullification important.

    If someone is charged with illegal possession of a firearm, for example, the jury can refuse to convict.

    If this happens regularly, the gun control law goes out this window.

    That is why our founder specified the jury system. The jury has more power than the supreme court.
     
  4. jillian
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    No. It doesn't happen regularly at all. Most juries don't lie when they take their oath as jurors.
     
  5. P F Tinmore
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    The jury is not a government entity. The government has absolutely no say as to a jury's verdict. The judge cannot tell them what to do. He does not have that authority.
     
  6. jillian
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    The jury takes an oath that they will follow the law as instructed.

    You really think a juror can't be held in contempt?

    I'm glad to see you are as uninformed about juries as you are about Israel. At least you're consistent.
     
  7. P F Tinmore
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    "The jury takes an oath that they will follow the law as instructed. "

    No they.don't.

    "You really think a juror can't be held in contempt?"

    That's right, they can't.

    A jury has no duty to the government.
     
  8. jillian
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    You don't know what you're talking about.

    This is NJ's

    Information for Jurors

    There is no state that doesn't have something similar.

    I'm sure judges would be very surprised to hear that anyone thinks they can't hold a juror in contempt.

    For a Good Time, Call Juror 12: Juror Held in Contempt in Trial of Anand Jon Alexander For Contacting Sister JONATHAN TURLEY

    And they absolutely DO have a duty to the government.

    Please stop talking. You're embarrassing to watch.
     
  9. jillian
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  10. P F Tinmore
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    A jurer may be held in contempt, but not for bringing in the "wrong" verdict.

    Judges lie.

    "The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."
    John Jay, 1st Chief Justice
    United States supreme Court, 1789

    "The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts."
    Samuel Chase, U.S. supreme Court Justice,
    1796, Signer of the unanimous Declaration

    "the jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact."
    Oliver Wendell Holmes,
    U.S. supreme Court Justice, 1902

    "The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided."
    Harlan F. Stone, 12th Chief Justice
    U.S. supreme Court, 1941

    "The pages of history shine on instance of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge..."
    U.S.vs Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 113, 1139, (1972)

    "You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy."
    (State of Georgia vs. Brailsford, et al, 3 Dall 1)

    "The Jury has an unreviewable and unreversible power...to aquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge..."
    U.S.vs Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139, (1972)
     

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