Jury Rights! Jury Nullification!
Written By: Curt Chancler - Jeanne Wollman | Posted: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
To often Americans forget they were 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 not well received by the electorate. Fortunately our forefathers anticipated that 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 the case. A citizen's last bastion of justice is a trial by a jury of his peers. The judiciary has eliminated, eradicated or simply ignored many rights but a jury still may judge both the law and the case before them. To accomplish this they must ignore a small portion of the "judges' instructions to the jury, " and in so doing all jurors will know in their hearts they are doing the right thing. They will also live with a much cleaner conscience. For whatever reason, the government is turning more frequently to the administrative courts to determine the law. These administrative courts negate most judicial safeguards. Most particularly, the right to appeal the hearings officer's or tribunal's decision and the right to a jury trial are not part of administrative law.
In the Oregon system judges would like you to think that only the Judge can dictate 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? Research has established that the intent of the Signer's of our Constitution regarding juries was that they were to judge the law as well as the case. Oregon's Article 1, Section 16 states that jury decisions must be made "under the direction of the Court as to law" but the jury will determine the "law as well as the facts." In Oregon, judges are not required to inform the jury of their rights and they do not. Lawyers are not allowed to bring up jury nullification and they do not. That does not make jury nullification any less legal or applicable in coming to a decision. "Jury stacking" is a common tactic of Oregon judges and attorneys who select only those who promise to abide by the direction of the court as to the law. This would be much more difficult if those who appeared for jury duty knew their rights, and more importantly their duty, as jurists. Uninformed juries, in fear of the consequences that the judge might mete out, cave in to the coercive actions of the presiding officer. This would be less likely to happen if the schools were teaching the rights and duties of the citizen jurist as part of their curriculum. Schools could teach of leaders such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton who spoke out on the rights of the jury. Citizens should know that 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. Also South Carolina in U.S. v. Gaudin (1995) ruled 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..." 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.
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