Jury Rights; Jury Nullification

on Sep 19 in Articles by

Americans are guaranteed a republican form of government with democratic elections in order to protect our sovereignty as citizens. But even with this protection, our elected Representatives occasionally make laws that are outside and beyond the limited scope of their Constitutional authority. Fortunately our forefathers anticipated this problem. They gave us a clear, basic, and forthright method of correcting unacceptable laws. It is Jury nullification. Jury nullification allows the citizen to judge the law as it applies to a case brought before a court. Juries are to judge both the law and the facts of the case before them.

For whatever reason, the government is turning more frequently to the administrative courts to determine the law. However, the Jury has the ultimate responsibility and duty to determine the case and the law. The decision of the Jury cannot be re-examined by any Court of the United States. Is it any wonder that the legal system would like to eliminate, or at least control, Juries?

Founding fathers such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton spoke out on the rights of the Jury. In 1972, Justice Byron White and Justice Thurgood Marshal spoke out on the duty of the Juror to judge the law as well as the case before them. In South Carolina, the court ruled in U.S. v. Gaudin (1995) that Juries are empowered to determine relevance and materiality. U.S. vs. Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139, (1972) states “The pages of history shine on instances of the Jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge…” when they are denied their right to judge the law, as well as the facts.

Citizens must understand that they are NOT obliged to set aside their conscience and their beliefs to follow the direction of a Court official. The fact that the Court chooses to ignore the rights and duties of the jury in no way obligates the Jury to obey a Judge who instructs them to perform against their conscience. Alexander Hamilton admonished that Jurors should acquit, even against the Judge’s instructions, if, in exercising their judgment with discretion and honesty, they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong. Today, knowledge of this statement is even more important as we see Juries blindly obey agenda-driven Judges.

As Justice Byron White in Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 US 145, 156 (1968) stated, “Providing the accused with the right to be tried by a Jury of his peers gives him an inestimable safeguard against a corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against a compliant, biased, or eccentric Judge.”

It is the duty and obligation of anyone called for Jury duty to know his/her rights and to exercise them. When you come before a court for Jury selection you may simply state, “Your Honor, I know it is my duty as well as my right to judge both the facts and the law.” In many states this will undoubtedly be cause for your dismissal from the Jury pool, but you will have alerted others in the courtroom of their rights and duty.

Hopefully, this would help curtail judges and the legal profession from controlling and directing the outcome of cases that are to be placed in the hands of a Jury. It would also alert the lawmaking body of our government that they cannot continue to make laws that infringe on the rights of Americans.

We as citizens must remember that our forefathers gave us the ultimate veto power to use when the government fails us. The Jury is our last protection against tyrannical law and an out of control government that only pays lip service to our rights and their oath of office. It is the duty of the Jury to correct these mistakes.

The trial Jury has more power than Congress, the President, or even the Supreme Court because they have the final veto power over all acts of the legislature.Â

It is also the responsibility of the Juror to insist that his/her vote be respected by all other members of the Jury. The Juror is not there to agree with the majority, but to act as a qualified Judge to see that justice is done.

Each citizen must step forward to protect all Americans from unjust laws. Remember, if you do not exercise your rights, you will lose your rights!

© 2004 – Curt Chancler and Jeanne Wollman – All Rights Reserved


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