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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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.
>No, its not due process at all. Due process embodies the concept that I, as a defendant, am entitled to a fair trial in which my conduct will be judged against the law and the evidence to determine whether I committed a crime.
>To return to RobRoys example, if I am convicted because the jury doesnt like my hairstyle, how have I received any modicum of due process?
To play devil’s advocate for the jury here; perhaps your hairstyle *is* some form of [perceptual] evidence. Perhaps the charge has to do with street-gangsters and one of the jurors happens to have had experience with such street-gangsters where they all had that particular hairstyle. Perhaps that was the iota which moved the juror to go from reasonable doubt to “I find...”
In such a case has the juror acted improperly? Would such a case violate due process?
You are absolutely right! I can’t rememebr the date, but it was between 1971 to 1974, in Passaic County New Jersey, in Paterson. I’ll never forget one of the older jurors, in a heavy accent theorizing “Maybe he vanted da voman” as a motive.
>John Jay said that although they had the right, they should give deference to the court.
If the court were REALLY about justice and the law I would agree. I do not believe that to be the case, however given that they threaten even law-abiding citizens from exercising their rights and obligations.
Their treatment of jury-nullification education is one example; their forced disarming of law-abiding citizens when they declare law enforcement has no positive obligation to protect any certain individual from another individual. ( Repeatedly, even at the Supreme Court level: http://www.allsafedefense.com/news/CopsDontProtect.htm ) And even in the absence of laws AND Constitutional prohibitions against any such law. (Here in NM, for example, the State Constitution prohibits any law “abridg[ing] the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense” AND there is no state statute rregarding weapons in court; the closest thing they have is the Court’s Rules which, not being passed by legislature, are not LAW: http://www.conwaygreene.com/nmsu/lpext.dll?f=FifLink&t=document-frame.htm&l=query&iid=1ce95e25.7bd11288.0.0&q=%5BGroup%20%27LR3-113%27%5D )
So, in short, I do not think that the courts should be given any “benefit of the doubt.”
Is it really? I've got a scenario for you then. Suppose I strap on my "EVIL" .45 Glock and open carry it onto my local university's campus and get arrested.
The prosecutor presents the following state statute:
|NMSA 30-7-2.4. Unlawful carrying of a firearm on university premises; notice; penalty.|
|A. Unlawful carrying of a firearm on university premises consists of carrying a firearm on university premises except by:
(1) a peace officer;
(2) university security personnel;
(3) a student, instructor or other university-authorized personnel who are engaged in army, navy, marine corps or air force reserve officer training corps programs or a state-authorized hunter safety training program;
(4) a person conducting or participating in a university-approved program, class or other activity involving the carrying of a firearm; or
(5) a person older than nineteen years of age on university premises in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance, for lawful protection of the person's or another's person or property.
B. A university shall conspicuously post notices on university premises that state that it is unlawful to carry a firearm on university premises.
C. As used in this section:
D. Whoever commits unlawful carrying of a firearm on university premises is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Would you say that I am guilty of a crime?
And if I presented the following as my defense:
|New Mexico State Constitution
Art II, Sec. 6. [Right to bear arms.]
|No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms. (As amended November 2, 1971 and November 2, 1986.)|
would I still be guilty of breaking the law?
Amarillo TX traffic court. Six man jury...City court room. Sometime around 1996.,,,?
But this ins’t a jury nullification case, it’s a first amendment case. He has no idea if any of the people he’s giving pamphlets to is on a jury.
The term $20 probably refers to the value of a $20 gold piece, not the value of a $20 Federal Reserve Note; that amount is sometimes exceeded by civil fines, but not usually.
Judge Ito did not maintain control of the courtroom, and the prosecution's work appeared sloppy. Had the prosecution delivered a better case but the jury acquitted anyway, it might be reasonable to suspect nullification. As it was, I see no reason to fault the jury for making the decision they did, given what was presented to them. Bear in mind that if a jury observes certain sloppiness from the prosecution, they could regard as plausible the notion that other sloppiness by the prosecution might have obscured what would otherwise be exculpatory evidence. A juror who comes to such a conclusion should acquit.
I don't think that can be determined until the case is heard and we learn exactly what is meant by "jury tampering", what the law actually says, what the individual did and why that supposedly violates the law. I suspect this may just be a case of prosecutorial misconduct, but I don't know that for a fact. It could also be that jury tampering is so broadly defined by the law that it conflicts with First Amendment rights, and may merit nulification.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, this thread has devolved into a number of separate but related thoughts about the pursuit of justice. I think that's healthy and I have learned quite a bit myself reading all the posts.
As a prospective juror, you are told at the beginning of jury selection what the case is about, the laws involved and the charges. Then you are asked specifically if you have any prejudices that would prevent you from being impartial in the specific case.
I should not be surprised at the views expressed here giving a high and mighty interpretation to jury duty. We are becoming a lawless society.
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