In the United States all accused persons that are facing trial for a crime punishable by more than six months in jail has a right to a trial by jury. Juries are usually made up of 12 jurors. It is the juries job to vote on the guilt of the accused. In most cases the judge will give instructions to the jury informing them that they are to weigh the evidence, make their best judgement as to the facts of the case, and vote based on the standard that they convict when there is no reasonable doubt of guilt.
This is all true as far as it goes. Facts are hard to come by. Absolute certainty is an impossible standard. And the law is complicated and nuanced. The judge will outline that as jurors, if you determine certain facts to be true, that then the accused has broken the law. If you know the accused has broken the law, then your duty is to vote to convict.
This has put people as jurors in an impossible situation. There have been many times that jurors have faced a conflict. They believe as presented that the accused is guilty of breaking the law. But the law is wrong or other circumstances makes it unfair and unjust to convict. The following are examples where jurors may have qualms about convicting:
- When slavery was legal, it was against the law to aid a runaway slave
- Rosa Parks refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat for a white passenger
- During alcohol prohibition it was illegal to make and sell alcohol
- There are endless examples of victimless crimes. Where one person, and even two or more consenting adults, violates the law through conduct that does not harm another person or their property. One example is the use of illegal drugs, even for self medicating a terminal illness, is against the law
- When a law is unconstitutional in the eyes of a juror, but the court insists the law is just. For instance the key evidence may have been obtained when a drug dog alerted to the existence of drugs when the dog may be no better than random chance. Or the evidence was collected during a search without probable cause when crossing the border into the US.
- Copyright infringement has recently changed from just a civil offence to now also a criminal act
- The accused may have been tortured and held without charges at Guantanamo Bay Cuba
- The accused refused the X-ray search and the enhanced pat-down during security screening for a commercial flight
- The penalty far exceeds what the juror believes is a just punishment for the crime
There are many examples for other jurors. But for you as an individual juror, you have your own beliefs about fairness and justice. If you are asked to convict against your own desires, regardless what anyone else thinks, then you have the impossible situation. You have to sleep at night with your own conscience.
What is the way out of the dilemma?
Learn and spread the knowledge of the secret power United States citizens have that protects freedom against the expanding power of government.
The judge tells you that he determines the law, and that you as a juror determine the facts. But that is not true. The judge has the power to prevent anyone from telling you this during a trial, but a juror can also judge the law. That is the secret that many judges don’t want jurors to know.
This hasn’t always been the case. The early history of the United States shows a different belief was in existence. Chief Justice John Jay in the instructions to the jury in the first jury trial before the Supreme Court of the Unites States in 1794 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”.
The fact is a juror cannot be told how to vote. They have the final say on what a just verdict is. It takes a unanimous vote of all the jurors to convict. If just one refuses to convict then there is a hung jury. In that case, the guilt is undecided. The prosecution can attempt to try the case again from scratch before a new jury. But nobody but the jurors make the decision on how to vote.
Sleep well at night. Stand up for your principles and vote your conscience.
For more information read the Progressive Review’s article What lawyers & judges won’t tell you about juries. You can learn more and help spread the secret by joining the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). Follow FIJA on Facebook. The jury nullification movement crosses the political spectrum. There are strong advocates from many different sides.