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Posted: 4/7/2006 7:45:09 AM EDT


Am I to Judge the guilt or innocence of the accused as well as the law?

Or is the Judge to decide if the law is constitutional and I am just responsible for determining if the defendant has broken the law?
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:47:51 AM EDT
You can't break unjust laws.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:52:52 AM EDT
Google "jury nullification." You always have the option to vote not guilty, and your decision cannot be used against you in any manner. The jury is the last democratic check on the legal process.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:59:21 AM EDT
Laws and Jury nullification aside: The only thing you are judging is if the prosecution proved its' case.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:04:38 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ghengiskhabb:
Laws and Jury nullification aside: The only thing you are judging is if the prosecution proved its' case beyond a reasonable doubt.



Fixed your post....

Mike
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:05:31 AM EDT
You must stay awake.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:12:22 AM EDT
Laws are made by a bunch of corrupt drunken politicians. They get their power because they are representatives of The People.

In that jury box you are also a representative of The People. As such you have just as much authority to nullify a law as the legislature did to pass it. You know the specifics of the case and know how the law is being applied. So you are in a better position to judge the law than the legislature is anyway.

So, yes you should judge the law as it is being applied in that particular case.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:12:53 AM EDT
As a juror, your responsibility is to ensure justice.

Not all laws are just. You're there as part of the jury to make several decisions. The whole concept of our jury system is to keep the decision-making process out of the hands of government and in the hands of the people.

Conventional practice in the courtroom is to keep the jurors away from any knowledge of jury nullification. The judge may even give specific instructions that would prevent any decision on your part about the justness of the law in question. Instructions like this go against the basic concept of our jury system.

How?
Make the laws so convoluted and complex that it becomes darn near impossible to live your life without breaking laws. There is no intent on your part to do anything wrong, but the laws are in place and you’re breaking them so you must go to jail.

Do what is right.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:18:07 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Thuban:
Laws are made by a bunch of corrupt drunken politicians. They get their power because they are representatives of The People.

In that jury box you are also a representative of The People. As such you have just as much authority to nullify a law as the legislature did to pass it. You know the specifics of the case and know how the law is being applied. So you are in a better position to judge the law than the legislature is anyway.

So, yes you should judge the law as it is being applied in that particular case.



Depends on whether you intend to uphold the oath you'll take as a juror.

Essentially, your oath will be to take the law as the judge gives it to you, apply the facts of the case as they are determined to be by your deliberations, and in that way reach a verdict. You will almost certainly be asked during the jury selection process - during which you will be under oath - whether you will agree to follow the law even if you don't agree with it. If you say yes, then you've sworn to do just that. I've participated in selecting over 20 juries in criminal and civil cases, and this is always how it goes.

Now, whether you break that oath by applying the law as you think it should be, as opposed to how the law actually is, is up to you. But you will swear not to do just that.

Before all the jury nullification folks start jumping up and down about this, please save it. I'm just describing his role as a juror in relation to the oath he'll have to take. I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong or whatever. But that's what the law is. As I said, whether he decides to uphold the oath or not is his decision.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:19:20 AM EDT
Going in as an informed juror is a good thing, and you certainly have the prerogative to vote your conscience in spite of the law. The problem is convincing 11 other knuckleheads who 'couldn't get out of jury duty' to go along. Most of them probably watch Jerry Springer for a living.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:27:55 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:29:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By eswanson:

Originally Posted By Thuban:
Laws are made by a bunch of corrupt drunken politicians. They get their power because they are representatives of The People.

In that jury box you are also a representative of The People. As such you have just as much authority to nullify a law as the legislature did to pass it. You know the specifics of the case and know how the law is being applied. So you are in a better position to judge the law than the legislature is anyway.

So, yes you should judge the law as it is being applied in that particular case.



Depends on whether you intend to uphold the oath you'll take as a juror.

Essentially, your oath will be to take the law as the judge gives it to you, apply the facts of the case as they are determined to be by your deliberations, and in that way reach a verdict. You will almost certainly be asked during the jury selection process - during which you will be under oath - whether you will agree to follow the law even if you don't agree with it. If you say yes, then you've sworn to do just that. I've participated in selecting over 20 juries in criminal and civil cases, and this is always how it goes.

Now, whether you break that oath by applying the law as you think it should be, as opposed to how the law actually is, is up to you. But you will swear not to do just that.

Before all the jury nullification folks start jumping up and down about this, please save it. I'm just describing his role as a juror in relation to the oath he'll have to take. I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong or whatever. But that's what the law is. As I said, whether he decides to uphold the oath or not is his decision.



Yes, you must uphold the law according to your oath…

But the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land. So if the law isn’t Constitutional you have a duty to nullify it. Corrupt drunken politicians deciding to ignore the Constitution when they pass a law doesn’t obligate a juror to do the same.

And Jury Nullification is the law too. It was an accepted power of a jury when the country was founded. Therefore when the Constitution requires a trial by jury it is mandating a trial but a jury with the authority to nullify a law. So again, you are actually upholding your oath to obey the law by being willing to nullify a law.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:33:48 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Thuban:
And Jury Nullification is the law too. It was an accepted power of a jury when the country was founded. Therefore when the Constitution requires a trial by jury it is mandating a trial but a jury with the authority to nullify a law. So again, you are actually upholding your oath to obey the law by being willing to nullify a law.



Show me a cite for this. Or is it just your opinion of what should happen?
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:34:15 AM EDT
I've sat on both criminal and civil juries. Quite the learning experience.

Follow the judge's instructions: listen to the evidence, don't discuss the case and remember that opening statements and closing arguments are NOT facts in the case. When it comes time to deliberate, listen to your fellow jurors. Everybody hears things slightly differently than their jury box mates. If you are unsure of something, or don't remember it, ask the bailiff to retrieve that portion of the testimony. Don't be afraid to question.

Above all, understand the crime/claim and the instructions before you deliberate. Not doing so is a grave error, IMHO.

Good luck. Hopefully you'll enjoy being part of the process. I did.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:58:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By hk940:

Am I to Judge the guilt or innocence of the accused as well as the law?

Or is the Judge to decide if the law is constitutional and I am just responsible for determining if the defendant has broken the law?



By law, a jury/juror is to judge the facts of the case, not the constitutional challenges. That is the responsibilty of the trial judge and appeals judges if the case is appealed to a higher court. As to the way you worded your question, the jury is only to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, if the defendant broke the law.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 8:59:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By eswanson:

Originally Posted By Thuban:
And Jury Nullification is the law too. It was an accepted power of a jury when the country was founded. Therefore when the Constitution requires a trial by jury it is mandating a trial but a jury with the authority to nullify a law. So again, you are actually upholding your oath to obey the law by being willing to nullify a law.



Show me a cite for this. Or is it just your opinion of what should happen?



Purely opinion.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:01:36 AM EDT
You have to say ''the chair'' everytine you are addressed.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:02:33 AM EDT
if you end up being the foreman, you are responsible for bringing enough hookers and blow for everyone.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:09:57 AM EDT
The judge will inform you of your duties and responsibilities if you are selected for the jury.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:12:48 AM EDT
Remember, all minorities are always guilty.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:34:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By eswanson:

Originally Posted By Thuban:
And Jury Nullification is the law too. It was an accepted power of a jury when the country was founded. Therefore when the Constitution requires a trial by jury it is mandating a trial but a jury with the authority to nullify a law. So again, you are actually upholding your oath to obey the law by being willing to nullify a law.



Show me a cite for this. Or is it just your opinion of what should happen?



Depends on your state. Here in Georgia for example we have this gem from our state constitution:

Article XLI. The jury shall be judges of law, as well as of fact, and shall not be allowed to bring in a special verdict; but if all or any of the jury have any doubts concerning points of law, they shall apply to the bench, who shall each of them in rotation give their opinion.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:41:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tvc184:

Originally Posted By eswanson:

Originally Posted By Thuban:
And Jury Nullification is the law too. It was an accepted power of a jury when the country was founded. Therefore when the Constitution requires a trial by jury it is mandating a trial but a jury with the authority to nullify a law. So again, you are actually upholding your oath to obey the law by being willing to nullify a law.



Show me a cite for this. Or is it just your opinion of what should happen?



Purely opinion.



Jury nullification was well established in English Common Law and the Founding Fathers understood that. A quick Google search on Jury Nullification will bring up countless links backing me up on that.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=jury+nullification&btnG=Search

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

When the Founders wrote the Sixth Amendment they obviously intended for “an impartial jury” to have this power. Otherwise they would have specifically removed that power from a jury in the Constitution, or at least allowed some remedy if the jury used its nullification power.

The mere fact that they barred the Government from retrying someone after a jury had found “not guilty” indicates that this was what the Founders intended.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 5:52:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/7/2006 5:53:10 PM EDT by Houstons_Problem]
You are there to do JUSTICE period. Once the doors to the jury are closed, you must do what it takes to ensure justice is carried out. The judge works for the government. The prosecutor works for the government. The defense attorney works for the defendent.

You work for the People.

Jury nullification played a critical role in the development of this great nation even before it existed.

Say you are on a jury in the corrupt state of New Jersey. The corrupt state of New Jersey has arrested a grandmother who defended her life and the life of her grandchildren from a home invader. The grandmother had retreated to a basement with the children and the home invader proceeded to chase them into the basement. After stating, "stop or I'll shoot!" , the grandmother is forced to defend herself against the home invader. The home invader is shot. The police arrest the grandmother because there was a small window in the basement through which she could have escaped if she were super grandma and was able to get the children out through the window while simultaneously holding a large, drug crazed and violent man at bay with only non lethal means.

Faced with being attacked and killed or breaking the law and living, the grandma has chosen to exercise her ultimate civil right and chooses to live.

The corrupt state of New Jersey has a law that requires its citizens to retreat , even if they are in their own home, before defending themselves. The corrupt prosecutor decides to prosecute the grandma.

You are on the jury.

The corrupt judge tells the jury that the laws of New Jersey have already been decided by a corrupt legislature and that the jury is only to decide whether the grandmother broke the corrupt laws of the corrupt state.

There is no question that the grandmother broke the law. She admitted shooting the criminal. (Who the corrupt state of New Jersey had recently released from prison.)

What are you going to do? Allow the grandmother to go to jail because she broke a corrupt law in order to save her life and the life of her children?

For the love of God, NEVER!

You must aquit! Or your peace will never be whole again so long as you live and breath in the knowledge of your failure to the defendent grandma and to the People of the state of New Jersey.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 6:04:27 PM EDT
I'd say "Sticking it to the man"
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 6:17:08 PM EDT
listen to the judge's instructions
listen to the prosecution
listen to the defense
have an open mind
accept that people are human and make mistakes
hang em all and let God sort em out......

Link Posted: 4/7/2006 6:21:46 PM EDT
Just tell 'em your prejudiced against all non-whites. They'll let you go home.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 6:27:27 PM EDT
The Law has nothing to do with good and bad, right and wrong. Lawyers twist things to fit their client's needs. Use your morals and your sense of right and wrong.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 6:40:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/7/2006 8:44:19 PM EDT by Bend]
You work for the People.

Well said, +1.

What one tends to forget is that law makers take an oath to uphold the State and Nation Consitutitions. However, the laws, as passed, may or may not be just! The lawyers take a simular oath and the judge takes the same oath when he/she takes the bench.

If/when the judge instructs the jury and it does not include judging the law along with the defendant, then that judge has violated his/her oath.

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".

"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 to decide the fairness of the laws, or whether the laws conform to the Constitution?"

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".


"This is also the defect in the long line of cases that age nullification by claiming that the jury has only the power,' but not the "right," to do it. That may be a fair description of the jury's latitude to acquit for any lawless rea-son that pleases them-its "power to bring in a verdict in the teeth of both law and facts." Horning v.. District of Columbia, 254 U.S. 135,138 (1920). But the jury's power to acquit out of justice or mercy is a constitutionally protected right. If not their right, it is at least the defendant's firmly settled right that he insist on a jury with such power, regardless of whether the proof of his technical legal guilt is literally overwhelming and uncontradicted. Sullivan V. Louisiana, 508 U.S. 275, 277-82 (1993). Any judicial instructions that would prevent the exercise of this right are unconstitutional.

As recently as 1972, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the jury has an "unreviewable and irreversible 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))

See:

http://www.lawandliberty.org/jurynul1.htm

http://www.caught.net/juror.htm

ETA: more stuff



Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:29:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Thuban:

Jury nullification was well established in English Common Law and the Founding Fathers understood that. A quick Google search on Jury Nullification will bring up countless links backing me up on that.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=jury+nullification&btnG=Search

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

When the Founders wrote the Sixth Amendment they obviously intended for “an impartial jury” to have this power. Otherwise they would have specifically removed that power from a jury in the Constitution, or at least allowed some remedy if the jury used its nullification power.

The mere fact that they barred the Government from retrying someone after a jury had found “not guilty” indicates that this was what the Founders intended.



If the state you are in has a law that states that a juror has the right to judge the law, then that is the law in that state. I doubt that most states have that law.

The 6th Amendment mentions nothing nor implies anything about nullification. The 5th Amendment against being tried twice for the same offense mentions nothing nor implies anything about nullification.

It is interesting that one of the sites you use as a reference, (http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html) gives a compelling case that jury nullification is not legal or a right. This is one example:
In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is given to them, whether they agree with the law or not. Let's see, duty to apply the law whether you agree with it or not.......

Also per your example page, the USSC ruled in a case 7-2 against a defendant when his lawyer was not allowed to use jury nullification in closing arguments. Your source poses the question: Do juries have the right to nullify? Juries clearly have the power to nullify;whether they also have the right to nullify is another question.

What it clearly shows is that you certainly can nullify a law because a juror has the right to vote his conscience for whatever reason he deems appropriate and he does not have to justify his vote. As your source says... "the right to nullify is another question".

Can someone nullify? Surely, as he is the sole arbiter of his vote.
Is it a Constitutional right? I haven't seen it demonstrated yet.

As to hk940's question, can he judge the law? He can vote as he sees fit.
It is a right or what the law requires? By Texas law I think the answer is no. Does that stop him from voting anything he wants? Nope.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:39:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/7/2006 7:41:46 PM EDT by Pangea]

Originally Posted By TravisM1:
Just tell 'em your prejudiced against all non-whites. They'll let you go home.



Never mind.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:45:56 PM EDT
I'm gonna laugh my ass off the first time one of the folks who scream for jury nullification shoots an intruder in their home in a perfectly good, legal shoot and gets charged by a corrupt or incompetent prosecutor. Then at trial, when the law of the jurisdiction gives them a dead-bang winner defense, they get a jury of soccer-moms and liberals who decide to do a little jury nullification of their own.

It has the potential to work both ways is all I'm saying. One of the reasons the system works (to the extent it does, which is better than just about any other criminal justice system in the world) is that all the participants - judges, defendants, victims, and attorneys - have the right to expect that the juror who takes an oath to do so will apply the law as it's given to him. It allows for predictability and consistency. Obviously, if you live in the rare state that actually gives you the right to determine whether to follow the law as it's given, that's different. Otherwise, if you are required to take the oath of a juror to apply the law as it's given to you, you should either take the oath and follow it or tell the judge why you can't.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:52:53 PM EDT
Do whatever this guy tells you.

Link Posted: 4/7/2006 7:53:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By hk940:

Am I to Judge the guilt or innocence of the accused as well as the law?

Or is the Judge to decide if the law is constitutional and I am just responsible for determining if the defendant has broken the law?



From what I have seen, from sitting on juries, your responsibility is to keep the accused from getting fucked by the system! I sat on a jury that wanted to convict a kid for DUI without any evidence. He had hit another car on the freeway, pulled over and ran off on foot. Supposedly, somebody talked to the kid while he was running away and said that the kid stated that the kid was drunk. The cops picked him up 26 hrs later. Charges were DUI, reckless driving (defined as criminal intent to do damage while driving), and leaving the scene of an accident. After listening to the morons who were in the jury room with me deliberate, I clued them in that common sense dictates that you cannot convict somebody beyond a reasonable doubt, if there is no evidence. They still couldnt care less, they just wanted to give the judge what they thought the judge wanted, so they could get back to their miserable, GOD-cursed lives. After 2 more hours, I just put my feet up and said, "Listen, I cant convict this kid on DUI or the reckless charge, so we can sit here until hell freezes over, or you all die and they let me go home." They decided that I might have a point afterall and changed their votes to guilty of leaving the scene of an accident. I totally lost faith in our jury system, that day
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:07:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By eswanson:
I'm gonna laugh my ass off the first time one of the folks who scream for jury nullification shoots an intruder in their home in a perfectly good, legal shoot and gets charged by a corrupt or incompetent prosecutor. Then at trial, when the law of the jurisdiction gives them a dead-bang winner defense, they get a jury of soccer-moms and liberals who decide to do a little jury nullification of their own.

It has the potential to work both ways is all I'm saying. One of the reasons the system works (to the extent it does, which is better than just about any other criminal justice system in the world) is that all the participants - judges, defendants, victims, and attorneys - have the right to expect that the juror who takes an oath to do so will apply the law as it's given to him. It allows for predictability and consistency. Obviously, if you live in the rare state that actually gives you the right to determine whether to follow the law as it's given, that's different. Otherwise, if you are required to take the oath of a juror to apply the law as it's given to you, you should either take the oath and follow it or tell the judge why you can't.



Did I understand you correctly? Are you talking about a situation where someone would be CONVICTED by means of jury nullification? How does THAT work???
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:14:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By prk:

Originally Posted By eswanson:
I'm gonna laugh my ass off the first time one of the folks who scream for jury nullification shoots an intruder in their home in a perfectly good, legal shoot and gets charged by a corrupt or incompetent prosecutor. Then at trial, when the law of the jurisdiction gives them a dead-bang winner defense, they get a jury of soccer-moms and liberals who decide to do a little jury nullification of their own.

It has the potential to work both ways is all I'm saying. One of the reasons the system works (to the extent it does, which is better than just about any other criminal justice system in the world) is that all the participants - judges, defendants, victims, and attorneys - have the right to expect that the juror who takes an oath to do so will apply the law as it's given to him. It allows for predictability and consistency. Obviously, if you live in the rare state that actually gives you the right to determine whether to follow the law as it's given, that's different. Otherwise, if you are required to take the oath of a juror to apply the law as it's given to you, you should either take the oath and follow it or tell the judge why you can't.



Did I understand you correctly? Are you talking about a situation where someone would be CONVICTED by means of jury nullification? How does THAT work???



It doesn't. If there is no set of facts from which a rational juror could conclude that an offense has been committed, then the judge must dismiss the case, before or after the verdict is rendered. What he cannot do is convict someone after a jury has rendered him innocent.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 9:23:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/7/2006 9:33:30 PM EDT by happycynic]

Originally Posted By tvc184:

If the state you are in has a law that states that a juror has the right to judge the law, then that is the law in that state. I doubt that most states have that law.

The 6th Amendment mentions nothing nor implies anything about nullification. The 5th Amendment against being tried twice for the same offense mentions nothing nor implies anything about nullification.



The Sixth Amendment does imply jury nullification. It is the very essence of the jury. This is how my law professor explained it to me, and it makes a whole lot of sense. Law is a very technical subject, and it always has been. In fact, as anyone who has practiced can attest, it is very difficult to explain the law to people who have not had legal training. Why, then, would the constitution assign the jury, made up of 12 non-lawyers in most instances, the right to decide criminal cases and civil cases of significant sums? If they were merely to analyze the technical application of facts to the law, it would seem that the judge would be a better person to make the decision, or if not the judge, then some other professional. The answer is that the jury is the last democratic check on the system. In the event a prosecutor attempts to enforce an unjust law, or apply a law to a factual situation for which it was not intended, he always must bring this decision before a body of the people, who are completely priviledged to dismiss the complaint.

A jury without nullification is like a militia without weapons. It is an absurdity. No matter what the instruction to the jury, no matter what state law says, the Sixth Amendment is supreme and all juries have the right to nullify unjust laws.

Edited to Add: wikipedia actually gives a good overview of both sides of the nullification question. Since I am on the pro side, I liked this quote from John Adams.


The use of the jury to act as a protection of last resort was espoused by many influential people surrounding the framing of the U.S. Constitution. For example, John Adams said of jurors: "It is not only his right but his duty...to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court."


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 10:54:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By happycynic:
........................... The answer is that the jury is the last democratic check on the system. In the event a prosecutor attempts to enforce an unjust law, or apply a law to a factual situation for which it was not intended, he always must bring this decision before a body of the people, who are completely priviledged to dismiss the complaint.



I guess tomorrow they will do away with the appeals courts then since the jury is the last democratic check on the system.

While I would not attempt to debate with a law professor, for each on one side of an issue, you can find another that takes the opposite opinion. Take a look at appeals courts including all the way to the USSC. Supposedly the best legal minds in the country and they are usually split on issues.

As far as citing the Bill of Rights, they are part of the US Constitution. That constitution says that the USSC is the final decision maker on laws, not law professor's opinions. To that end.....

I found a case from 2001 that cites Sparf & Hansen v. United States, 156 U.S. 51 (1895) as the USSC case that "is still universally regarded as the decisive case disapproving of jury nullification". Sparf makes it clear that jury nullification is not proper and takes away the appeals courts for "The sole end of courts of justice is to enforce the laws uniformly and impartially, without respect of persons or times or the opinions of men.".

In UNITED STATES v. POWELL, 469 U.S. 57 (1984), t he USSC says, "Jurors, of course, take an oath to follow the law as charged, and they are expected to follow it. To this end trials generally begin with voir dire, by judge or counsel, seeking to identify those jurors who for whatever reason may [469 U.S. 57, 67] be unwilling or unable to follow the law and render an impartial verdict on the facts and the evidence." This again shows that the USSC feels that jury nullification is improper since jurors are under oath to follow the law. While Powell is not per se a jury nullification case, it is brought up as part of the ruling. What is really interesting is that Powell is a unanimous verdict. I would think that not very many cases from the USSC end up unanimous, yet this case which mentions the duty of jurors to follow the law does.

Of course, your law professor can argue that the USSC was wrong in these rulings. Maybe he will be able to find another case to challenge Sparf or Powell in the future.

I will stick with my earlier statement. Jury nullification is not a right and it is not implied in the Bill of Rights. That does not stop an individual in a jury room to vote his conscience for whatever reason he sees to do so.
Link Posted: 4/8/2006 8:33:32 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tvc184:

I guess tomorrow they will do away with the appeals courts then since the jury is the last democratic check on the system.



Appellate courts serve as a different check upon the system. They exist to ensure that the law is applied accurately by the courts. In most instances, they cannot directly dispose of a case. The usual practice is to say "judge, you got the law wrong, the correct law is X. We're giving you the case back and try it again with the correct law." Moreover, the appellate courts would not be considered democratic as they are usually not directly elected (except in some states). An appellate court may order the dismissal of charges, but ONLY the jury may convict, which is why it is the last democratic check on the system.


While I would not attempt to debate with a law professor, for each on one side of an issue, you can find another that takes the opposite opinion. Take a look at appeals courts including all the way to the USSC. Supposedly the best legal minds in the country and they are usually split on issues.


I agree that the courts have been split on the issue, and are very uncomfortable with it. The concern is that the jury will nullify not upon the high principles of the founders, but because the defendant is, perhaps, a "Buh-lack, female, Congresswoman." (i.e McKinney). Personally, I have no problem with the court being cautious in what it instructs the jury, and I have no problem with the usual rule of forbidding counsel to mention nullifcation in courts. Nullificant is meant to be a rare event, used in cases where the result is so manifestly unjust that the jury cannot bring itself to convict. But, nonetheless, I believe that the best understanding of the system is that it was a right the founders intended the jury to have. And let us not forget that the founders were far from naive in regards to human nature. They were aware of bias in the jury, which is why nullification can only work to prevent the state from ruining someone, it can never be used to convict someone who has committed no crime.


As far as citing the Bill of Rights, they are part of the US Constitution. That constitution says that the USSC is the final decision maker on laws, not law professor's opinions. To that end.....


Minor quibble. That is nowhere written in the Constitution. Marbury v. Madison decided that.


In UNITED STATES v. POWELL, 469 U.S. 57 (1984), t he USSC says, "Jurors, of course, take an oath to follow the law as charged, and they are expected to follow it. To this end trials generally begin with voir dire, by judge or counsel, seeking to identify those jurors who for whatever reason may [469 U.S. 57, 67] be unwilling or unable to follow the law and render an impartial verdict on the facts and the evidence." This again shows that the USSC feels that jury nullification is improper since jurors are under oath to follow the law. While Powell is not per se a jury nullification case, it is brought up as part of the ruling. What is really interesting is that Powell is a unanimous verdict. I would think that not very many cases from the USSC end up unanimous, yet this case which mentions the duty of jurors to follow the law does.


But Powell also says the following:


Thus, Dunn has been explained by both courts and commentators as a recognition of the jury's historic function, in criminal trials, as a check against arbitrary or oppressive exercises of power by the Executive Branch.


and


The most that can be said in such cases is that the verdict shows that either in the acquittal or the conviction the jury did not speak their real conclusions, but that does not show that they were not convinced of the defendant's guilt. We interpret the acquittal as no more than their assumption of a power which they had no right to exercise, but to which they were disposed through lenity.


As you can see, the Court is conflicted even within the opinion itself. On the one hand, the court recognizes the historic function of the jury to act as a check on the executive branch (through nullification), but on the other hand states that a jury which acts through lenity assumes a "power which they had no right to exercise." The court is obviously somewhat uneasy about jury nullification, but in the end determines that the power of the jury to acquit is absolute.


This Court noted that Dunn and Dotterweich establish "the unreviewable power of a jury to return a verdict of not guilty for impermissible reasons."


In short, the Court has always recognized that the jury's right to acquit, for any reason, is absolute. The authorities are obviously conflicted in whether to refer to this as a check upon the system, or as a usurptation of power. Personally, I think that the founders intended it to be a legitimate function of the jury. They were well aware, I'm sure, that the downside of this is that the jury may, at times, nullify for bad reasons. They solved that little problem by writing the 2nd Amendment, to ensure that the criminal got shot the next time he pulled that kind of crap.


Link Posted: 4/8/2006 9:07:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/8/2006 9:09:17 AM EDT by Bend]
" Personally, I think that the founders intended it to be a legitimate function of the jury."

IMHO, you are correct!


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."
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