Skip to comments.Jury Nullification Advocate Is Indicted
Posted on 02/25/2011 10:52:20 AM PST by Second Amendment First
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YES! No person charged with trespassing at n abortion mill while attempting to deter women from killing their babies should ever be convicted.
It is a cumulative effect. The rights lost during Prohibition were never restored, only added to in the War on Drugs. Likewise, except for a brief lapse immediately after Watergate, the size and power of the intelligence (16 agencies) and federal police (50+ agencies) has continued to grow unabated.
The Patriot Act and related legislation has opened the gates wide, under the guise of anti-terrorism, but in practice, over 99% of the time used for conventional criminal investigations, and non-criminal investigations, sometimes called “fishing expeditions”, of innocent citizens not suspected of any offense.
Add to that the compilation of enormous numbers of government and private dossier databases, which combined with sophisticated data mining software, leave the typical citizen defenseless against the unethical and even criminal.
Jury nullification is about finding people not guilty of crimes they committed. It's called nullification because it effectively nullifies the law the person is technically guilty of breaking. Jury nullification by definition does not result in a conviction for appearance or any other reason.
I think I get your objection now, but it doesn't apply. Jury nullification is absolutely based on the facts, and is not supposed to be arbitrary, nor is the power supposed to be leveraged lightly capriciously. It is supposed to be an act of conscience or protest.
This false distinction didn't always exist. For centuries, juries were considered to be able to decide based on the law and facts of the case. Everything was presented to the jury, thus the jury could decide on the whole of the case with all of the facts, including being able to decide whether the current case is a misapplication of the law, or the application of a bad law.
Then judges started discussing evidence exclusion in chambers, away from the jury. That was reasonable, you don't want to prejudice the jury with evidence that couldn't legally be used against the defendant. That's equivalent to jury tampering by the prosecution. Then the chamber and bench discussions grew to encompass almost everything. Now juries only see and hear exactly what the judge wants them to. The judges literally took away a power of the people and gave it to themselves for their exclusive exercise.
Those who bring up O.J. as an indictment of the right of jury nullification fail to acknowledge that the case is a clear perversion of it. I seriously doubt anyone on the jury would publicly state that laws against murder are unjust. They may have reason to believe that prosecutorial misconduct has led to the accusation being lodged against an innocent man, but then, you've left the realm of jury nullification.
I strongly recommend that each of us take part when called up to serve on a jury. As citizens, it is a solemn duty, because it is our one chance to actually judge the law itself as well as the accused.
So much for 1st amendment freedom of speech. Theses Federal prosecutors need to be fired without delay.
It’s been tried before and it will never go to trial..
How do you prosecute the man without educating the jury about nullification
I see very many interesting comments and reflections on history in the posts here. I think jury nullification is a sound priciple provided we heed and apply the words of John Adams that our Constitution (and the justice system itself) was designed for a moral people and unfit for any other. A corrupt people will render injustice just as surely as a corrupt judge.
This week Obama ordered his Attorney General to stop defending a law that he disagrees with.
Anyone see a slippery slope of hypocrisy here?
I do not support "jury nullification." I sat on a case where one juror believed everyone had the right to threaten murder upon a spouse during a physical argument and that it shouldn't warrant a criminal charge. He argued that viewpoint in the jury room and when told he couldn't, he then claimed he didn't believe the act had happened. It wasn't a question of whether the act happened: the accused admitted it on the witness stand! We were 11-1 on that charge.
John Jay said that although they had the right, they should give deference to the court.
The OJ Jury is a great example of how Jury Nullification does work very well. What failed there was the jury selection process.
But say we are jury selected in the case of a man brought up on charges possibly because he was a member of currently extremely prosecuted religious group, where such trumps charges are in the time and place, common. Say a Coptic Christian in Cairo. It I’m a Copt on that jury in Cairo, I am NOT going to convict if there is even an wacky outside chance the Copt did not cut his wife’s head off.
A less inflammatory and REAL example would be that jury in south Jersey some months ago who were directed by the vile (now retired) Judge to consider only the facts presented to them in trial per the law as he spelled it out to them. The case was a man who was moving to north Jersey and had his guns in his trunk to move them to his new place — that is allowed under even the very strict New Jersey law.
He was stopped and his guns discovered by police, still it was a permissible action. But the police and prosecutors of that district for whatever reason — likely animosity towards citizen RKBA — arrested him and he went to trial on serious felony charges.
The Judge refused to allow testimony that the man was carrying the guns for the legal (in NJ) purpose of moving to a new place. The Jury was sympathetic to the man. Three times they came back to ask to clarify the law, or ask for other facts, they did ask if they could nullify. The Judge said that they must rule according to (evilly limited) facts heard in the court and the law as he had stated it — the Judge firm, even demanding and perhaps rude and abusive to the Jury in his demeanor. Clearly, imo, he was dominating them to force a particular verdict.
The Jury did abide the Judge’s direction. They found the defendant guilty. He went to jail.
THAT JURY NEEDED TO KNOW IT COULD NULLIFY.
What happened to that man was a perversion of Justice. Abuse!
It wasn’t by some OJ Jury, it was by a respected and long-serving Judge.
That’s WHY Justice needs Jury Nullification.
And that means?
We had a far more moral country then than we have now. If our judges and laws were idealogically faithful to the Constitution, I would agree, but unfortunately some worship a differnt idealogy, and it’s more widespread now than during Jay’s time.
Jury nullification is a violation of an oath.
That’s fine, if your word means nothing, especially when sworn before God.
You are crazy. The jury is part of the justice system not the ultimate arbiter. The system is designed so that no one component is the ultimate arbiter. That is what makes it great. Being on a jury is NOT an opportunity to seize power to force one's opinions; it is QUITE the opposite. But you would have to have some humility and some intelligence to understand that.
An oath to God is not an oath to enforce an unjust law. Only the morally confused would see it that way.
You’re the one who is morally confused, and uninformed to boot. Give me an example of an “unjust law” that you would nullify as a juror, violating your oath.
>>Indeed. We wouldnt want a society in which people relied on objective facts to plan their behavior.
It is a much better system when people make up the rules as they go.<<
If that is what you got out of my posts, you are missing my point. One must not only weigh objective facts, but also determine which are of more importance than others. And each of us has the right (and responsibility) to make that determination for ourselves, when on a jury.
>>I assume, by the way, you are perfectly comfortable with plaintiffs receiving large verdicts in personal injury cases?
Someone spills coffee on their lap and gets a $100 million verdict. Totally cool with you?<<
Quite the opposite.
>>I assume, by the way, you are perfectly comfortable with plaintiffs receiving large verdicts in personal injury cases?
Someone spills coffee on their lap and gets a $100 million verdict. Totally cool with you?<<
Quite the opposite.
In both the cases I was on, it was ambulance chaser lawsuits, and in superior court. In both cases the plaintiff lost. In one of those cases I was a driving factor in the jury room.
1) Defending you home, life and loved ones using deadly force
2) The right to bear arms and defend yourself
3) So-called hate speech crimes
4) Rights of a property owner to decline to perform a gay wedding in their establishment (coming our way in IL)
5) The right to free speech as posited in the article posted in this thread
6) The right to grow your own food for your own consumption
Hell, I could go on all day but I think the point is made.
I had a similar experience where two jurors wanted to give plantiff an award because the felt sorry for her and after all, the insurance comapny was paying. Myself and another juror believed she had not proved her case and was probably lying based on other tstimony. The eight others were somewhere in between. Eventually everyone agreed she had no case, but the two jurors still wanted her to get something. They eventually came around. Myself and that other juror were instrumental in preventing a miscarriage of justice.
Granted, that’s not the same as jury nullification, but it shows the imporatance we can all make doing our duty as jurors trying to serve justice.
You left out her stint with the London Playboy Club before law school.
The jury can then examine the evidence.
He and his counsel are probably smart enough to try, but you think the judge would allow that?
Of course if the judge doesn't, there's damn good grounds for appeal.
Many prosecutors frequently behave illegitimately. In such cases, a jury who acquits someone who did a forbidden act would not be acting lawlessly, but would instead be upholding the law.
For example, cruel and unusual punishments are forbidden by the Constitution and are thus illegitimate. The Constitution does not specify any particular types of punishment as permissible nor forbidden, because what would be a reasonable punishment for one crime might be grossly unreasonable for another. Further, the reasonableness of a particular sentence in many cases will depend not only on the particular statute violated, but on a variety of factors including the defendant's level of criminal intent. If the jury were to determine that given the facts of the case (including its judgment of the defendant's criminal intent or lack thereof) the defendant would receive a grossly unreasonable sentence if convicted, the jury would be duty-bound to acquit.
Note that many prosecutors and judges don't want jurors to know the sentences associated with crimes. That is because they know that jurors would likely stop them from imposing illegitimate cruel and unusual punishments.
Jurors should not be encouraged to acquit people lawlessly, but they need to be told that obeying the law does not imply obeying potentially-illegitimate instructions from a judge. Jurors have an obligation to uphold the Constitution and statutes, regardless of what a judge says. If a judge refuses to provide full information regarding the Constitution and statutes, a jury should regard as plausible the theory that something in the statutes they're not allowed to see would allow the render the defendant's action permissible--a perfectly fine basis for "reasonable doubt".
I would like to see groups like FIJA shifting their focus from being free of the law, to upholding the law. They'd find much broader support, and would help expose much more of what's really going on.
(On a related note, I'd like to see a rule providing that the prosecutor must show that the defendant's conduct met not only the description of a criminal act within the text of a statute, but also conformed to some reasonable interpretation of the title of the forbidden act. For example, to convict someone of "unlawful use of a weapon", the prosecution should be required to show that the defendant actually used a weapon unlawfully, for some reasonable definition of "used". The prosecution wouldn't have to show that the defendant fired, displayed, or even handled the weapon, but would have to demonstrate that weapon played a material part in some criminal design by the defendant [e.g. the prosecutor could show that the defendant, while committing some other crime, carried a weapon for the purpose of being able to shoot his way out of any trouble he might encounter; the defense could argue that was not the defendant's purpose for carrying the weapon; a jury would then decide who they believe]. I suspect a lot of legislation is sufficiently sloppily written that such a requirement might render many statutes unenforceable; I'm not sure that would be a bad thing, though.)
Ah, your story brings back memories. In both my cases, it was a 10-2 decision. We finally decided it was not worth wasting our time to bring the other two around - in both cases.
BTW, the first was a 2 year old that fell off a city park slide 8 feet to asphalt - they were suing the city of Seattle. He suffered a subdural hematoma and had a square of his skull removed to release pressure. He was being watched by a baby sitter that we found out AFTER THE TRIAL was off in a corner of the park getting high with a friend. It was the big kids play area.
My attitude was “accidents happen” and people should be careful, but if they aren’t don’t be surprised if someone (like those for whom you are responsible) is hurt. The two holdouts were a couple of liberals that said, and I quote, “the city blew it”.
The slide had been installed in the fifties and was as safe as the day it was installed. Life is risk.
How about just knowing the law and facts of the case? The problem in that case was that the crook on the bench decided to convict the defendant, and put on a phony trial in he fed lies to the jury. The judge, not the jury, made the real decision in that case.
BTW, if I had my druthers, I would pass a law providing that defendants have the right to demand that any portions of the Constitution, statutes, regulations, ordinances, etc. that the defendant believe are relevant must be made available to the jury. For a judge to forbid such a request would be a gross criminal offense. Any defendant who would be prevented after the enactment of this statute would be entitled to a new trial if he could show that there was any possibility that a reasonable jury might conceivably have found in that information a basis for issuing a decision more favorable to him (note that this is explicitly a looser standard than would be required in most appeals, which typically require that it be likely that a jury would have issued a different decision).
BTW, to give some real teeth to the law, I would also provide that an affirmative defense be failable in a trial for homicide, assault, or other such offense: that such action was necessary for the protection of society, on the basis that the victim had at in some previous trial, since the enactment of this statute, unlawfully withheld from a jury, for the purpose of increasing the likelihood of convicting someone, portions of laws, statutes, etc. that the defense at that earlier trial wanted available to it. Judges probably wouldn't like that provision, but they'd have a simple way to avoid it: follow the law.
If the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, jurors should be bound by what the Constitution actually says, rather than by anything judges say. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishments. If a jury would find that the statutorially-defined sentence for a statutorially-described crime would be a grossly unreasonable punishment for the particular action actually performed by the defendant, the jury has a duty to acquit.
A major problem with the legal system in this country is that it relies in on many factual findings which are not only decided by someone other than a jury, but are often decided before the defendant is even alleged to have committed any crime. Some judge somewhere decides that in some circumstance it's not grossly unreasonable for cops to kick in a door two seconds after pressing the doorbell button, and it becomes almost impossible to challenge the reasonableness (and thus validity) of a search where a cop pushes the doorbell button, waits two seconds, and kicks in the door. Even if the doorbell had a sign saying "Bell bust--bang", pushing the non-functional button would make the search "reasonable".
I would really like to see FIJA work on educating the public about prosecutors' and judges' illegitimate tricks, and encourage jurors to be skeptical about their openness. Suggest to jurors that if prosecution and defendant both seem oddly silent about something that should be relevant, it's possible the judge illegitimately prevented the defense from presenting information which would have clearly compelled an acquittal, and such possibility may be a basis for reasonable doubt.
Not all of these beliefs of yours have to do with serving on a jury. However, if you are called to jury duty, there is a process called jury selection. During that process, you have a duty to disclose any beliefs and opinions you have versus the law or the crime or the parties in question, any problem you would have being impartial. If you fail to do that and you are selected for the jury, you are serving under false pretenses, having lied about your true sentiments. MY POINT is that jury service is not the place or the way to change laws you disagree with. In criminal cases, your job is to determine if prosecution has met the burden of proof.
Thanks for clearing up my recollection in a most excellent way. I've never seen that before.
Your argument is a bit flawed. It presupposes knowledge I don’t have and equates that with a belief or opinion. Let’s use the article of this thread as an example. I believe the man’s right of free speech is being violated under the guise of jury tampering. I don’t know that as a fact, but only from what I have read. Does that mean I can’t be impartial? Absolutely not. Must I tell the court I believe in free speech? Must I tell the court that if the defense can prove the law or its application unconstitutional, I may agree? Does it mean I must tell the court that I may not agree with the prosecution’s interpretation of what constitutes jury tampering? Absurd. That’s why they are having a trial and I am under no obligation to tell the court every belief or opinion I have that may influence my decison when I hear the case having not heard it. That would be a ridiculous burden of disclosure.
The point of nullification, as I see it, is not to change laws you disagree with but only those you find unconstitutional or unjust during the course of the trial. The law and its application are on trial as much as the defendent. If you find the law is unjust or maliciously misapplied, then it should be nullified. If you already know that going into the trial, then you should be practicing law and not be a juror.
Your argument only supports the notion that brain-dead mushrooms should serve on juries and believe everything they are told by the judge regarding the law. That is not a justice system. It’s a kangaroo court.
I thought grand juries could indict, but a regular jury could produce verdicts of guilty, not guilty or not guilty via nullification when the judge’s direction would seem to provide the possibility of only a guilty verdict but of possibly varying degree.
“Incidentally, Clintons first nominee was Zoe Baird.
Obviously, men need not have applied during the Clinton regime.”
Then how do you explain Janet Reno? :^)
“You are crazy. . .But you would have to have some humility and some intelligence to understand that. “
A little over the top there, wouldn’t you say? Geez.
I happen to view jury nullification to be a great check on the power of Congress. Unjust laws don’t have to be upheld. Sorry if my viewpoint makes you go ballistic.
“The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”
John Jay, 1st Chief Justice U. S. 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.”
Harlon F. Stone, 12th Chief Justice U. S. Supreme Court, 1941.
“The pages of history shine on instances of the jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge...”
U. S. vs. Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139, (1972)
I was part of a jury that did such. Pissed off all involved shy of the defendant and amazingly ....the Judge !
She was pleased as punch and even wrote each of us a letter congratulating us on such. It wasn’t a major case, simple traffic court case where “contempt of cop” was the real issue as a speeder was also charged with tailgating. Seems when the cop came up behind the speeder, he turned on his emergency lights to pull the man over. The speeder said he didn’t think he was speeding so he pulled into the middle lane of a three lane freeway to get out of the cops way. In doing so he pulled in behind a vehicle in the middle lane and in the cops words, didn’t leave multiple vehicle lengths of space between the two cars. Thus the added tailgating charge added to speeding.
The defendant stated he accepts the radar speeding ticket but his first comment was he was yielding to an emergency vehicle so he pulled over to the middle lane as fast as he safely could.
In the little traffic court jury room all were ready to accept the cops word as gold. I asked if all noted the “smart ass attitude” of the defendant and they said yes. I asked had anyone driven through a red light after looking both ways to allow an emergency vehicle to pass them and get through the intersection etc ... ? They said yes. Pissed off cop just was piling on due the rude defendant was very clear. Even in the courtroom the cop was clearly still unprofessional and rude in his mannerisms etc ... As was the speeder per my observations.
We stated not guilty yet the prosecutor jumped up claiming nullification. Judge dismissed us to the jury room. We came back and courtroom was empty shy of attorneys , judge and bailiff . Judge and attorneys interviewed each of us with questions and answers sort of one on one...
Judge then called it nullification. I thought we were in trouble. Judge smiled at us said we did a very good job and let us go.
Small event, small case but a lesson learned for me none the less.
People clearly have too much time on their hands. I wish I had some of that time. Vote with your conscience before even hearing the case? Sorry but that is just not what jury duty is about.
A jury in New York City recently nullified a charge against a man from out of state who had a handgun in his vehicle. He admitted he had it in his glovebox but had forgot it was in there. He was facing a felony conviction and years in prison. I would have nullified the charge against him also.
You would but you would hear the case first and then nullify the charges. What this guy is doing is trying to tell people to use their beliefs when deciding. Quite frankly, I nor you need anyone to tell us to vote with our conscious. We would do the right thing without him.
I encourage FReepers to serve on juries and help take back this country
I would not mind, but I have NEVER been called. The only negative I see from serving on a jury is the pay. You really lose a ton of money if you serve on a jury, but I would do it if called.
Interesting story Squantos, especially that the prosecutor appeared to claim nullification as something illegal, or at least illegitimate, while the judge accepted it as proper, in this case anyway.
Just curious, but what state was this in, as I have never heard of jury trials for traffic offenses?
It’s interesting to hear of personal experiences on juries as I have never served on one. Have been called twice but rejected both times. The first time I’m sure was because I went to school with the prosecutor, but have no idea about the second time.
Of course I would listen to all the facts presented during a trial and consider all the opinions presented during deliberations. What I object to is that judges usually instruct the jury that they can only decide the case on the basis that the law is infallible and absolute.
As for the old guy spending his time pamphleteering, hey he’s retired and doing something he believes worthwhile. It’s a free country (or at least used to be one) and he was not targeting specific people or cases on trial.
Is the misdemeanor a civil charge, or a criminal one?
If it is a criminal one then the US Constitution’s 6’th Amendment applies: “In *all* criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury [...]”
If it was a civil charge, then is the fine —or even jail-time which would be spent in employment, IIRC— more than $20?
If that’s the case then the 7th Amendment applies: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved [...]”
My only prior jury experience was in a criminal trial decades before the civil trial I mentioned. I thought for sure I would not be sleceted because I had so many family memebers in law enforcement, but I was selected. The case involved a black man accused of shooting a black woman in the foot during a mob confrontation. The initial vote by an all white, middle class jury was 9-3 for conviction.
The witnesses were impressive and gave a description of the accused right down to the color of his socks and style of his shoes. We found out the witnesses were questioned by detectives while sitting directly opposite the accused. The prosecution had also supressed evidence the defense requested, a gun in particular. During jury deliberations, I pointed out time after time how jurors erred in their recollection of the testimony. We requested no less than a dozen readings of the trial transcripts which proved their recollections were wrong. It was my opinion the police had botched the investigation and were simply following the path of least resistance for a conviction.
Our deliberations wore on for hours until two others just gave in and switched their votes for conviction. The final vote was 11 to 1 for conviction and the judge declared a hung jury. Obviously, there is much more detail to this story than I can cover in this short space but I was just appalled that jurors could be so inattentive and swayed by prejudices and expediency to render a verdict. By the way, I was not a “liberal” but solidly conservative, and did not let the skin color of the accused in any way influence my decision. I truly believe to this day that I did my duty with diligence and prevented an injustice.
Of course, this is not a case about nullification but about one’s duty as a juror even in the face of overwhelming opposition despite underwhelming evidence. I just thought I would pass this along to stress the importance of faithfully executing our duty as citizens to serve on juries. That trial cost me a week of work but knowing an injustice was stoped, even if just temporarily, was worth far more than the lost pay.
Indeed... I find it 'interesting', and not to say 'informative' that the Peter Zenger trial is no longer taught in schools across this country. Interesting, and informative, indeed...
I hate to open this can of worms, but I always thought the jury got a bad rap there. It was a case of lousy, starstruck prosecutors getting outclassed by private sector lawyers. The jurors I saw didn't think he was innocent. They took that pesky "reasonable doubt" thing seriously.
In the same era, the original Simi Valley Rodney King jury also got a bad rap. They nailed the brute who did most of the beating and his superior, but the other two weren't nearly guilty of the stuff they were charged with. Again, crappy, headline grabbing prosecutors didn't do their jobs and people blamed the jury and tried to make it a racial thing. It wasn't.
If what you said in the first two sentences was true, the “beyond a reasonable doubt” part had been destroyed. I’d have voted with you.
It’s true. Four witnesses described everything the man was wearing and his physical features in very precise detail. I didn’t mention the altercation took place at night in front of a bar and the defendant was toward the back of one of the mobs, something all witnesses agreed on. The woman, in the opposite mob was shot it the heel of the foot. Tough shot for a guy standing in front of her, though I suppose she could have turned for a moment.
I have a feeling that at the time the trial took place there was so much trust in the cops and maybe a little racism as well as “the defendant is a bad guy anyway” that the jury felt they’d at least nail him for this.
I can understand, and agree to a degree with that sentiment. But if I am on a jury trial, I MUST keep that attitude and information separate. He could be Adolf Hitler, but if the evidence is as you described it, there is no way I’d find him guilty of this particular crime.