So you are setting on a Jury in a gun case.


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Horsesense
April 9, 2005, 10:47 PM
The post on the 65yo man who got arrested, after killing a 20yo, who was beating him and had a gun, because he had a loaded gun in his car, got me to thinking.

What would you do if you were on the jury and such a case came up? The Judge will tell you "you are hear to determine the facts in this case and I am hear to determine the Law" but can you over rule the law in the interest of serving justice?

According to this article you can and should. I think we need to get the word out.
http://deoxy.org/juryrite.htm
Jurors' Handbook
A Citizens Guide to Jury Duty
Did you know that you qualify for another, much more powerful vote than the one which you cast on election day? This opportunity comes when you are selected for jury duty, a position of honor for over 700 years.
The principle of a Common Law Jury or Jury of your Peers was first established on June 15, 1215 at Runnymede, England when King John signed the Magna Carta, or Great Charter of our Liberties. It created the basis for our Constitutional, system of Justice.
Jury Power in the System of Checks and Balances
In a Constitutional system of justice, such as ours, there is a judicial body with more power than Congress, the President, or even the Supreme Court. Yes, the jury of your peers protected under our Constitution has more power than all these government officials. This is because they have the final veto power over all "acts of the legislature" that may come to be called "laws."
In fact, the power of jury nullification predates our Constitution. In November of 1734, a printer named John Peter Zenger was arrested for seditious libel against his Majesty's government. At that time, a law of the Colony of New York forbid any publication without prior government approval. Freedom of the press was not enjoyed by the early colonialists! Zenger, however, defied this censorship and published articles strongly critical of New York colonial rule.
When brought to trial in August of 1735, Zenger admitted publishing the offending articles, but argued that the truth of the facts stated justified their publication. The judge instructed the jury that truth is not justification for libel. Rather, truth makes the libel more vicious, for public unrest is more likely to follow true, rather than false claims of bad governance. And since the defendant had admitted to the "fact" of publication, only a question of "law" remained.
Then, as now, the judge said the "issue of law" was for the court to determine, and he instructed the jury to find the defendant guilty. It took only ten minutes for the jury to disregard the judge's instructions on the law and find Zenger NOT GUILTY.
That is the power of the jury at work; the power to decide the issues of law under which the defendant is charged, as well as the facts. In our system of checks and balances, the jury is our final check, the people's last safegard against unjust law and tyranny.
A Jury's Rights, Powers, and Duties
But does the jury's power to veto bad laws exist under our Constitution?
It certainly does! In the February term of 1794, the Supreme Court conducted a jury trial in the case of the State of Georgia vs. Brailsford (3 Dall 1). The instructions to the jury in the first jury trial before the Supreme Court of the United States illustrate the true power of the jury. Chief Justice John Jay said: "It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision." (emphasis added) "...you have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy".
So you see, in an American courtroom there are in a sense twelve judges in attendance, not just one. And they are there with the power to review the "law" as well as the "facts!" Actually, the "judge" is there to conduct the proceedings in an orderly fashion and maintain the safety of all parties involved.
As recently as 1972, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the jury has an "unreviewable and unreversible power... to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge..." (US vs Dougherty, 473 F 2d 1113, 1139 (1972))
Or as this same truth was stated in a earlier decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Maryland: "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. This is a power that must exist as long as we adhere to the general verdict in criminal cases, for the courts cannot search the minds of the jurors to find the basis upon which they judge. If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused, is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic of passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision." (US vs Moylan, 417 F 2d 1002, 1006 (1969)).
YOU, as a juror armed with the knowledge of the purpose of a jury trial, and the knowledge of what your Rights, powers, and duties really are, can with your single vote of not guilty nullify or invalidate any law involved in that case. Because a jury's guilty decision must be unanimous, it takes only one vote to effectively nullify a bad "act of the legislature." Your one vote can "hang" a jury; and although it won't be an acquittal, at least the defendant will not be convicted of violating an unjust or unconstitutional law.
The government cannot deprive anyone of "Liberty", without your consent!
If you feel the statute involved in any criminal case being tried before you is unfair, or that it infringes upon the defendant's God-given inalienable or Constitutional rights, you can affirm that the offending statute is really no law at all and that the violation of it is no crime; for no man is bound to obey an unjust command. In other words, if the defendant has disobeyed some man-made criminal statute, and the statute is unjust, the defendant has in substance, committed no crime. Jurors, having ruled then on the justice of the law involved and finding it opposed in whole or in part to their own natural concept of what is basically right, are bound to hold for the acquittal of said defendant.
It is your responsibility to insist that your vote of not guilty be respected by all other members of the jury. For you are not there as a fool, merely to agree with the majority, but as a qualified judge in your right to see that justice is done. Regardless of the pressures or abuse that may be applied to you by any or all members of the jury with whom you may in good conscience disagree, you can await the reading of the verdict secure in the knowledge you have voted your conscience and convictions, not those of someone else.
So you see, as a juror, you are one of a panel of twelve judges with the responsibility of protecting all innocent Americans from unjust laws.
Jurors Must Know Their Rights
You must know your rights! Because, once selected for jury duty, nobody will inform you of your power to judge both law and fact. In fact, the judge's instructions to the jury may be to the contrary. Another quote from US vs Dougherty (cited earlier): "The fact that there is widespread existence of the jury's prerogative, and approval of its existence as a necessary counter to case-hardened judges and arbitrary prosecutors, does not establish as an imperative that the jury must be informed by the judge of that power".
Look at that quote again. the court ruled jurors have the right to decide the law, but they don't have to be told about it. It may sound hypocritical, but the Dougherty decision conforms to an 1895 Supreme Court decision that held the same thing. In Sparf vs US (156 US 51), the court ruled that although juries have the right to ignore a judge's instructions on the law, they don't have to be aware of the right to do so.
Is this Supreme Court ruling as unfair as it appears on the surface? It may be, but the logic behind such a decision is plain enough.
In our Constitutional Republic (note I didn't say democracy) the people have granted certain limited powers to government, preserving and retaining their God-given inalienable rights. So, if it is indeed the juror's right to decide the law, then the citizens should know what their rights are. They need not be told by the courts. After all, the Constitution makes us the masters of the public servants. Should a servant have to tell a master what his rights are? Of course not, it's our responsibility to know what our rights are!
The idea that juries are to judge only the "facts" is absurd and contrary to historical fact and law. Are juries present only as mere pawns to rubber stamp tyrannical acts of the government? We The People wrote the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." Who better can unbiasly decide the fairness of the laws, or whether the laws conform to the Constitution?
Our Defense - JURY POWER
Sometime in the future, you may be called upon to sit in judgement of a sincere individual being prosecuted (persecuted?) for trying to exercise his or her Rights, or trying to defend the Constitution. If so, remember that in 1804, Samuel Chase, Supreme Court Justice and signer of the Declaration of Independence said: "The jury has the Right to judge both the law and the facts". And also keep in mind that "either we all hang together, or we most assuredly will all hang separately."
You now understand how the average citizen can help keep in check the power of government and bring to a halt the enforcement of tyrannical laws. Unfortunately, very few people know or understand this power which they as Americans possess to nullify oppressive acts of the legislature.
America, the Constitution and your individual rights are under attack! Will you defend them? READ THE CONSTITUTION, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Remember, if you don't know what your Rights are, you haven't got any!

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El Tejon
April 9, 2005, 10:51 PM
Can and probably should from what is reported (always a tough call on what in is media).

Have seen jury nullification once. I'll post a thread about it.

patent
April 10, 2005, 12:15 AM
I'd vote not guilty too.

Of course they won't ever stick me on a jury.

patent

Art Eatman
April 10, 2005, 12:20 AM
From what little I know (or have read, somewhere...), the very mention of "jury nullification" can get you thrown off the jury. Dunno is that proper, but it seems to be a "That's the way it is." sort of thing. The very idea upsets judges.

You can sit there with your happy, dumb face hanging out and say, "I vote not guilty." until the Devil shivers. If that results in a hung jury, sobeit; reasonable odds there won't be a retrial...

But IANAL.

:), Art

Standing Wolf
April 10, 2005, 12:22 AM
From what I know of the case—not all the facts, to be sure—I believe I'd have to vote to acquit.

That said™, I have to wonder how many N.R.A., G.O.A., C.S.S.A., R.M.G.O., S.A.S. members would be summarily disinvited to sit on juries involving firearms cases.

rust collector
April 10, 2005, 01:10 AM
How would you like to be convicted by a jury even though the state had not proven you guilty according to the judge's instructions? Jury nullification seems like a good deal until you get a runaway jury that thinks it knows more that lawmakers, law enforcers and judges. Fact is, they're not bestowed with superior abilities just because they been placed on a panel. After all, they do take an oath to support the laws and the constitution.

We operate under the rule of law, which means that everyone in the state must adhere to the same standard. What kind of society do we have if I get my ticket lifted for driving while impaired while John Doe skates because he has a family to support or the jury thinks he's a regular guy?

There are many laws we may believe to be ill-advised, but one of the only ways to get them corrected is to strictly enforce them. It can be a painful process, and the jury and judges can help to mitigate their effect on individuals IF hands aren't tied by knee-jerk mandatory sentences. All the elements must work together, however, for the system to function properly.

Hawkmoon
April 10, 2005, 01:18 AM
Jury nullification is real and is legal, but the Supreme Court has ruled that judges do NOT have to tell that to jurors. And as Art noted, mentioning the concept while serving on a jury will likely result in a mistrial, or if there are alternates in you being tossed off the jury.

There's another thread running today in which someone quotes former Chief Justice John Jay as saying that jurors shall judge the facts AND the law. Nowadays the judges tell us that jurors are to judge the facts and that they (the judges) will judge the law.

Nonetheless, the Constitution says we judge the facts and the law. Keep your lips zipped and just vote for acquittal and they can't force you to change your vote (but they will try).

JohnKSa
April 10, 2005, 01:22 AM
Keep your lips zipped and just vote for acquittal and they can't force you to change your vote (but they will try).Just make sure you answered all the screening questions accurately and that you didn't fail to respond properly during the screening process or you could find yourself in trouble.

c_yeager
April 10, 2005, 05:35 AM
How would you like to be convicted by a jury even though the state had not proven you guilty according to the judge's instructions?

Good point, jury nulification can work both ways. However, a guilty verdict can be overturned immediatly by the sitting judge or later by appeal, so that situation at least has some protection.

Model520Fan
April 10, 2005, 08:49 AM
We operate under the rule of law, which means that everyone in the state must adhere to the same standard. What kind of society do we have if I get my ticket lifted for driving while impaired while John Doe skates because he has a family to support or the jury thinks he's a regular guy?

There are many laws we may believe to be ill-advised, but one of the only ways to get them corrected is to strictly enforce them. It can be a painful process, and the jury and judges can help to mitigate their effect on individuals IF hands aren't tied by knee-jerk mandatory sentences. All the elements must work together, however, for the system to function properly.


And one of the elements is a jury trial. It is a juror's legal duty to judge the facts and the law, and render a verdict. It is NOT his duty to convict a person of violating a wrong law. Zenger case, remember? What kind of a society do we have of jurors act as rubber stamps for judges?

lee n. field
April 10, 2005, 09:48 AM
I'd get bumped during, what they call it, jury packing phase.

R.H. Lee
April 10, 2005, 10:20 AM
As a juror, I would not vote guilty for violation of ANY law I considered in conflict with the Constitution or BOR. But I wouldn't tell them that beforehand, unless they asked me that specific question.

thatguy
April 10, 2005, 11:03 AM
You will never be seated on any jury for a case involving anything about which you have training, experience, or an interest. I have been called for jury duty several times and you can just watch the attorneys question the prospective jurors to weed out anyone who may be biased against their side. I was called for a civil suit against Johns-Manville (some asbestos thing) and I was asked if I had training or experience in mechanics or industrial science. I had to admit that I had a degree in industrial arts and that was it for me. They want dummies on juries, not experts who will make up their minds based on facts rather than what the judge and the lawyers tell you in court.

Any case involving guns would have them asking you if you own a gun, use a gun, belong to a gun club, the NRA, etc etc etc. Trust me, all of us would be bounced from this jury but pronto.

rust collector
April 10, 2005, 03:38 PM
Thatguy knows whereof he speaks. Trials are about TRYING to base a verdict solely upon the information presented to the jury, rather than preconceived notions. Human nature, however, is to bone up on a topic and the factoids tossed around by the media definitely interfere with the process. So also do experts, whether legit or self-proclaimed, that are not disclosed, sworn or subject to cross examination. Thus, the greater your desire to be a juror, the less likely that you will be chosen or have the degree of objectivity necessary.

It's danged frustrating. So much so that you'll rarely see a lawyer chosen for jury duty. I once showed up for jury duty in federal court, got bounced on the voir dire (jury packing session--I like that) and mildly chastised by the clerk of courts for not asking to be excused in advance. Hey, jury service by folks who want to do a good job is vital to the system, so no way I'm going to pass. Unfortunately, however, counsel are usually going to opt for the lady in the yellow polyester outfit, because they think they know how she thinks. Some do and some just think they do.

Nobody is infallible in our system of government. Juries, applying their life experience with BS detection and human behavior, coupled with exhaustive proof and legal guidance, do an amazingly good job.

Horsesense
April 10, 2005, 05:02 PM
Jury Nullification is not thought in High School Civics etc not even on TV. Judges won't tell you, so how is a juror supposed to know he has the power to judge the law?

I intend to send out an email to all my gun friends, Christian friends and anybody else I can think of and hopefully they will do the same.

cxm
April 10, 2005, 05:07 PM
Ultimately a jury must judge not only guilt or innocence but also if the law is just.

Our final defense against tyrants is the jury. As long as the jury acts with honor and a committment to our Constutitional rights we will be safe from opression.

Trusting the "govv'ment" to protect us is foolish in the extreme. We can only protect our selves.

If a law is in my judgement in conflict with the Constutition, then I will never vote to convict anyone of violating that law... unfortunatelly many, many of our fellow citizens have fallen for "have to follow the law etc." line...when in fact the judges and prosecutors are lying to them... have to wonder how gullible some people are.

FWIW

Chuck

Marko Kloos
April 10, 2005, 06:47 PM
There were plenty of Southern juries who refused to convict white folk for killing black folk, even if the proof was overwhelmingly against the accused.

Jury nullification cuts both ways, and I'd wager a guess that it has been used far more often for immoral reasons than moral ones.

HankB
April 10, 2005, 07:41 PM
There were plenty of Southern juries who refused to convict white folk for killing black folk, even if the proof was overwhelmingly against the accused.As in the case of O. J. Simpson?

"Jury nullification" is not something that should be undertaken lightly. But if there's a person on trial for violating a law a juror knows is unjust, or is being unjustly applied, it's longstanding tradition (since pre-Revolutionary War colonial days) in American jurisprudence to vote for acquittal.

Marko Kloos
April 10, 2005, 08:17 PM
Like I said:

Jury nullification cuts both ways, and I'd wager a guess that it has been used far more often for immoral reasons than moral ones.

There's a German saying that goes, "One crow does not hack out the eyes of another." A black guy who killed a white person got to walk because a black jury had their minds made up and wasn't going to be swayed by the evidence. Happened far more often with the races reversed...merely illustrates my point.

Gordon Fink
April 10, 2005, 09:07 PM
Since I wouldn’t perjure myself, I doubt I would survive voir dire.

~G. Fink

Chris Rhines
April 10, 2005, 09:25 PM
I would lie my butt off to get on the jury, then vote to acquit.

- Chris

Sam
April 10, 2005, 09:34 PM
Been called for jury duty 4 times and been challenged and excused each time. Don't expect that to change in the future.

Have seen 1 civilian court nullify and 1 court martial nullify.

The civillian court was a DUI for a guy sleeping off a drunk in his car.

The Court Martial was for failure to obey. From my research it is fairly common for nullifications on these to occur. Stupid orders from incompetant junior officers. The Commander is bound to support the junior if he demands it so they go to court. A good way for a commander to justify flushing extra lieutenants.
By the way it is the only time an ADC will reccomend that the accused demand an enlisted jury.

Sam

Joey2
April 10, 2005, 09:39 PM
This past Nov. 2004 I had to report for jury duty. I was selected for a trial. The defendent fired his lawyer before the trial started so we were excused.

I carried a Citizens Rule Book for jury duty with me and while we the jury panel was waiting (3 hrs.) I was going through the book with 2 other jurers.

Jim K
April 10, 2005, 09:44 PM
Contrary to what was written repeatedly in the O.J. Simpson case, a verdict of Not Guilty (whatever the reason) is NOT jury nullification. Jury nullification is the unanimous declaration by a jury, not that the accused is not guilty, but that the LAW under which the charge was brought is unconstitutional, and is thus void. The O.J. Simpson jury found him not guilty; THEY DID NOT NULLIFY THE CALIFORNIAL LAW AGAINST MURDER.

Jury nullification is real except in those states which have banned it by statute law, and it is based on the same principle that a judge can rule that a law is unconstitutional. There are a number of problems.

The first, obviously, is getting on a jury. I can almost guarantee that any NRA member or gun owner is going to be challenged by one side or the other in any case involving guns. (And lying to either attorney will bring a fine and possible imprisonment.)

The second, assuming you get on the jury, is to convince eleven other people that jury nullification is valid, and that it is the ONLY means of obtaining justice in the present case. Lotsa luck.

The third is that the jury must unanimously declare to the judge that they find the law under which the indictment was brought to be unconstitutional and therefore null and void, and they are therefore exercising the right of jury nullification. Again, lotsa luck.

The fourth is convincing the judge to accept that verdict and not toss the whole jury in the can forever for contempt of court. Maybe ultimate appeals will win, but you can't count on it.

FWIW, I know of NO case of jury nullification in the U.S. in recent history.

Jim

Infidel
April 11, 2005, 03:39 AM
Any case involving guns would have them asking you if you own a gun, use a gun, belong to a gun club, the NRA, etc etc etc. Trust me, all of us would be bounced from this jury but pronto.
I can almost guarantee that any NRA member or gun owner is going to be challenged by one side or the other in any case involving guns.
A few years ago, I was seated on the jury in a felony menacing + reckless endangerment case that involved a gangsta going into his neighbor's house and waving a pistol around, eventually firing one shot into the wall above his neighbor's head. During voir dire, every potential juror was asked whether we owned guns, and if we owned more than one. At least three of us that I remember owned several guns, but we were seated. If I remember correctly, NRA membership was not mentioned.

We convicted the guy of everything we could, and would have thrown in attempted murder if we could have.

I would lie my butt off to get on the jury, then vote to acquit.

And this is somehow honorable? I don't think so.

And if you were found out, you would deservedly go to jail.

There is quite a bit of information at Fully Informed Jury Association (http://www.fija.org/)

sm
April 11, 2005, 04:17 PM
I have been on a LOT of juries. Seems my number was real popular for awhile.

During voir dire, I answered honestly and I have been both excused and chosen for duty.

I have had both sides make note of the fact I was known to shoot, hunt,compete, assist students ...etc.

Actually being chosen as Foreman in most all the gun related cases, well some folks not into guns changed perceptions and sides. Some did later come out and shoot. Some listened to family that had guns and learned from them.

That Attraction versus Promotiondealie. ;)

As a Pro Gun , Pro RKBA , type person , my responsiblilty was to be honest about myself, and to honestly listen to the evidence presented and make my decisons as an honest law abiding member of society. My integrity, ethics and principles are such.

Not to mention what my actions spoke about a Pro Gun, Pro RKBA person. Words are one thing - I feel good my actions spoke loud and clear about folks like me - NOT the same as the blissninnies, Press, and Media "portray".

Ironically - I was allowed to stay on one trial even though my dad had undergone Open Heart Surgery [ Civil Trial against a Ins Co not wanting to pay for such surgery] I just knew I would be tossed.

I was "excused" in a trial involving a shooting...guy was shot in the knee. Oh the part about me and guns was fine...Defense excused me because I had had double knee surgery myself. :scrutiny:

Quite an education this Jury Duty, Difficult at times with work and such ...still I learned a lot about Criminal cases , shootings, murders, rapes, kidnappings...

Civil cases ,well the various 'reasons" are unique. In one suit the " evil weapon" , peice of 2x4 about 18" long a lady used to get a fellow off of her...he was suing her for injuries...yes you are correct in why she was getting him off of her. :scrutiny:

"Beat him like a drum" - boy did she. :evil:

Bear Gulch
April 11, 2005, 04:26 PM
I wonder if they'd put me on the jury if I wore a Ted Nugent United Sportsmen T shirt to jury selection?

foghornl
April 11, 2005, 04:38 PM
Been called twice for jury duty. Both were criminal cases, got tossed once by Prosecutor, once by Defense. :confused:

Werewolf
April 11, 2005, 04:49 PM
Dang - all of you guys that have been called multiple times...

I've lived in the same community for 20 years and have never been called. I know folks - including my wife that have been called 4 or more times.

System supposedly works off of choosing random DL numbers.

Yeah. Riiiiiiiight! In a community of 1.5 million what are the odds of anyone getting called even once let alone 4 times? Random my butt. There's jury profiling going on...

HankB
April 12, 2005, 04:45 PM
I can almost guarantee that any NRA member or gun owner is going to be challenged by one side or the other in any case involving guns. As I sort through the cobwebs of my memory, I seem to recall that a couple of decades ago, NRA members were routinely being excused "for cause" in cases involving guns or shooting.

I believe the NRA went to court and got a decision to the effect that NRA membership was not grounds for dismissal unless the NRA was involved in the case as plaintiff or defendant.

Peet
April 12, 2005, 06:53 PM
I get called every three frickin' years TO THE DAY.

If there's a trial, I end up on a jury.

There are two courthouses in the county; one sucks, the other is
a cesspit. Guess which one I always get picked for.

90% of the cases in Franklin County are DUIs or drunk and
disorderly. Guess which ones I always get.

Where's Perry Mason when I need him.

OTOH, considering the last two murders in the county, I'm
prolly WAY better off with a DUI...

Peet

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