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Juries: keep ’em stupid

The powers that be like juries stupid. How else would you explain that time the jury wasn’t told that someone charged with growing weed was doing it for medical purposes under state law? Now:

Jurors in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui asked for but were denied a dictionary Tuesday for use during their deliberations on whether the Sept. 11 conspirator should receive a death sentence or life in prison.

Before their lunch break, the jurors — and Moussaoui — filed into the courtroom to hear the response of Judge Leonie Brinkema to the request to have a dictionary in the jury room.

Brinkema told them that sending a dictionary in would be like adding additional evidence in the case, but she invited them to come back if they had questions about specific definitions. And she warned them against doing their own research, including looking up definitions.

Why is that? Seems you’d want a jury to be as informed as possible. Knowledge is power, and all.

Don’t get me wrong, Moussaoui is a sack of turds and I personally wouldn’t be heart-broken if someone beat him about the head and neck area with a Ball-peen hammer until he stopped fidgeting. Heck, I’d even do it. But let the jury do its job.

25 Responses to “Juries: keep ’em stupid”

  1. countertop Says:

    Mostly because a statutory term often times has a wholly different meaning than it would in a dictionary. In fact, it could even be the opposite as this passage from Connecticut Coastal Fishermen’s Ass’n v. Remington Arms Co., 989 F.2d 1305 (2nd Cir. 1993) indicates.

    Defining what Congress intended by these words is not child’s play, even though RCRA has an “Alice in Wonderland” air about it. We say that because a careful perusal of RCRA and its regulations reveals that “solid waste” plainly means one thing in one part of RCRA and something entirely different in another part of the same statute. 

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

    Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass ch. 6 at 106-09 (Schocken Books 1987) (1872). Congress, of course, is the master and in the discussion that follows, we undertake to discover what meaning Congress intended in its use of the words solid and hazardous waste.

  2. Xrlq Says:

    The powers that be like juries stupid. How else would you explain that time the jury wasn’t told that someone charged with growing weed was doing it for medical purposes under state law?

    Oh, I dunno, could it be because the guy was charged with violating a federal law, thereby rendering any conflicting state law irrelevant? Nah, couldn’t be that.

  3. SayUncle Says:

    X, and you don’t think that maybe a jury would hav been more sympathetic with that info?

  4. Xrlq Says:

    Of course they could have been more sympathetic with that info. So what? We don’t let information in solely because it might make a jury more or less sympathetic with the defendant. We let it in (or don’t) because it is relevant to the law. Compliance with the laws of an individual state, the laws of Holland, the UN Charter or the Magna Carta is not relevant to an allegation that someone has violated federal law. If the evidence were admitted, the only proper instruction a judge could have given was “do not rely on this information for any purpose whatsoever.” That, in turn, makes about as much sense as having a big red button with a sign reading “do not press this button ever.” If there’s never a legitimate reason to press the button, why have it at all?

    In any event, to the extent excluding legally irrelevant information has anything to do with juries being stupid, this is not about keeping juries stupid, but about preventing them from becoming so. Or, if you prefer, accepting and making the best of the fact that juries are stupid, whether we want them to be or not. Half of all potential jurors out there are stupider than average, after all.

  5. countertop Says:

    I take a slightly different position than X, especially on the drug case.

    I think one of the underlying roles of juries is in addition to deciding what the facts are, they also act as a judicial balance against and overhanded legislature. In that regard, especially with a criminal trial, they should be allowed to know all the facts. If they think a law is wrong, its within the juries power to negate the impact of that wrong law.

    However, the facts as you’ve laid them out in Moussaoui are different. Certain terms have certain meanings under the law – and in those cases the juries have a duty to understand what the meaning Congress intended was. A dictionary often time will retard that effort.

  6. Xrlq Says:

    If they think a law is wrong, its within the juries power to negate the impact of that wrong law.

    It’s certainly within a jury’s power to break the law, but they don’t have a right to do that, so why the hell should the system encourage rogue jurors to beat the system? A hypothetical jury’s power to judge the law is no more or less valid than a particular, real-world jury’s power” to let O.J. to walk because Mark Fuhrman said the n-word.

    Yes, juries certainly have the “power” to violate their oath and ignore the law, with little chance of repercussions to themselves. If they do so in a civil case, or if their lawlessness results in a criminal conviction (suppose the criminal defendant admitted to the act in question, but had a legal defense, which the jury proceeded to “nullify”), their verdict will be reversed on appeal. If they do so by wrongly acquitting a person of criminal charges, it’s not, but that’s because of the double-jeopardy clause, which bars successive prosecutions no matter what kind of misconduct the jury may have engaged in.

    Look, sometimes you and the law are going to disagree. That’s life. If you can’t appreciate the fact that it’s your job as a juror to apply the law as it is, and not as you’d like it to be, then you shouldn’t serve on a jury. The good news is that unless you perjure yourself during the jury selection process (and no, FIJA-drones, you don’t have a “right” to do that, either), you’ll never have to.

    That said, Countertop is right to distinguish the Moussaoui case from the drug case in one respect. Even if one were to drink the FIJA Kool-Aid and argue that juries have a “right” to nullify laws they don’t like, it wouldn’t follow that they have a corresponding “right” to interpret the law in question to mean whatever some random dictionary might lead them to believe it means. One could just as well argue that it is NOT up to the jury to decide what the law says, only the judge can do that, and the jury’s decision is simply over whether or not it should be applied.

    Suppose, for example, that the word they wanted to look up was “execute,” which means one thing in the context of a capital criminal trial, and many other things in other contexts, including other legal contexts. If the judge had been asleep at the switch and honored their request for a dictionary, they may have stumbled across a definition whereby “execute” means “do.” Then they read the judge’s question – Shall the U.S. government do Zacarias Moussaoui?” Their predictable response: “Hell, no, that’s gross! Eeeewww!” Or, if they weren’t sure what “execute” means for purposes of this trial, they could simply ask the judge. Your call.

  7. SayUncle Says:

    Sure, juries can abuse their ability to nullify rulings but overall I think it’s good. I hope to see more of it, particularly when the law is so egregiously stupid (which it’s not in this case).

  8. Xrlq Says:

    You’re missing the point, Uncle. It’s one thing to try and beat the system, and quite another to expect the system itself to assist you in this endeavor. For our legal system to feed jurors with information that can’t help them render a lawful verdict, but can help them render a lawless one, makes about as much sense as the IRS putting up a how-to guide to assist would-be tax evaders in the art of avoiding prosecution. Maybe we need a new Fully Informed Taxpayers Amendment to mandate this.

  9. SayUncle Says:

    I understand your point but disagree. Jury nullification can be an effective tool at dealing with overreaching laws.

    I know you lawyer types don’t like us non-lawyer types worrying our little heads over things like the law 😉

  10. Xrlq Says:

    I’m all for worrying about things like the law, but I’m also for doing so in an intelligent way. It’s all well and good to argue that jury nullification can be an effective tool in dealing with overreaching laws, but it’s quite another to show that it is. It worked for John Peter Zenger, but not for anyone else, and now that we have a First Amendment we no longer need it for anyone. Besides, for every Zenger case there are 100 O.J. juries, usually with the races reversed. Jury nullification is a very blunt instrument, to put things lightly. There’s no reason to assume they’ll agree with you as to what does or does not constitute “overreaching,” or even that that will be the criterion upon which any given nullification is based. As I’ve noted above, half the jurors are indeed stupider than average, but there’s no reason to believe they’re any more libertarian than average, so query why libertarians think rogue juries will lead to a more libertarian result anyway.

    Last and least, I find it highly ironic that I’m debating the ultimate “Like You and Me, Only Better” issue with a blogger who routinely uses the phrase “Like You and Me, Only Better” to describe policies he dislikes.

  11. Xrlq Says:

    It worked for John Peter Zenger, but not for anyone else…

    should read:

    It worked for John Peter Zenger, but not for anyone else at the time.

    IOW, while I believe that jury nullifications that produce good results are few and far between, I do not intend to suggest that jury nullification has not produced a single good result since 1735. Its track record is bad, but it’s probably not THAT bad.

  12. SayUncle Says:

    Well, that’s rather interesting. Since you think it could be useful in some cases (and abused in others), wouldn’t you think that educating folks on its appropriate use is beneficial?

    Last and least, I find it highly ironic that I’m debating the ultimate “Like You and Me, Only Better” issue with a blogger who routinely uses the phrase “Like You and Me, Only Better” to describe policies he dislikes.

    How do you figure? I kinda think that keeping juries in the dark is such an instance but likely from the other side of the debate than you.

  13. robert Says:

    Didn’t the end of prohibition, (of alcohol), come about largely because juries quit convicting?

    And, I must inform you, that in Tyler Municipal Court, SEVERAL juries voted not guilty based on looking at laws that are stupidly written or carried ridiculous fines, without considering the guilt or innocence of the plaintiff. Basically, 450.00 was too much money for a harmless driving error.

  14. tgirsch Says:

    Dammit, Xrlq, we need to quit this. Because by and large, I agree with you. I think there is indeed a place where jury nullification is appropriate, but far too often (as in the OJ case you cited), the attorneys play for jury nullification because they know the law isn’t on their side. And the OJ case brings to light another unsettling element of the whole “jury nullfication” thing — it’s generally not used to protest or eliminate a “stupid law,” but instead this particular enforcement of some law that people otherwise don’t object to.

    Having been on a jury once (civil, not criminal), I can tell you that there’s an awful lot to keep track of, and it’s even more challenging if you have people intentionally clouding the picture with evidence not relevant to the law in question. I, for one, took my duty seriously, and ruled according to the laws that were in effect, even though I felt really bad for the guy we ruled against. There was enough sympathy for him in the jury room that several jurors wanted to issue a “mixed” ruling, ruling for him on some aspects of the case and against him on others, but we had explicit instructions not to do that — we were to find on each count based on the merits of the case, and on each count, the merits were slightly against him.

    Coming back around to the case at hand, I think it’s totally valid for the judge to deny the dictionary, because the dictionary definition of words isn’t what’s important here; it’s the legal definition that matters here. If they have a question, they can come out and ask, and option the judge left open.

  15. Xrlq Says:

    Well, that’s rather interesting. Since you think it could be useful in some cases (and abused in others), wouldn’t you think that educating folks on its appropriate use is beneficial?

    No, because I don’t think it’s realistic. Either we tell the juries to follow the law, or we invite them to do whatever the hell they feel like. There really is no middle ground. Besides, even “good” jury nullifications of “bad” laws are a poor substitute for fixing the law itself. Given the choice between the system that sprung John Peter Zenger, and the First Amendment that would have prevented him from being prosecuted in the first place, I’d opt for the latter every time.

    The other problem with enlisting The System to encourage “good” nullifications is that to do so, The System has to recognize the problem with its own laws. If it can do that, why not simply fix the laws for everybody, rather than encouragint lawyers to encourage juries to flout them just once, for their own clients only, while leaving the rest of us to suffer under the laws we all know are unjust? It doesn’t get any Like You and Me, Only Betterer than that.

  16. bob Says:

    “Given the choice between the system that sprung John Peter Zenger, and the First Amendment that would have prevented him from being prosecuted in the first place, I’d opt for the latter every time.”

    I’d would also opt for something that would prevent the prosecution in the first place; however the First Amendment is not that “something”. As one example, consider the “McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform” law; it sure appears to me to be a violation of the “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” and I am quite certain that sometime, somewhere, someone is going to ignore it and get prosecuted for doing so.

    One can easily come up with many “laws” that are in violation of the “powers” that have been delegated to the government — with ALL branches of the government in agreement (either explicitly, or implicitly by failing to reject) that everything is “hunky dory”.

    “Either we tell the juries to follow the law, or we invite them to do whatever the hell they feel like. There really is no middle ground.”

    I would disagree about there being no middle ground, but if those truely were the only two choices then it would seem to me that “whatever the hell they feel like” is the better choice. Some juries will get it wrong and that will allow some criminals to escape their just deserts. However, that is better than the result of many being punished at the government’s discretion for acts that a significant portion of the population does not believe constitute a criminal act.

  17. FishOrMan Says:

    X, “Besides, even “good” jury nullifications of “bad” laws are a poor substitute for fixing the law itself.”

    Tell that to the person who a jury refuses to convict. If juries were properly informed, (not lied to by judges and lawyers), we might be seeing it much more often. A jury was designed to rule on the facts and the LAW.

    So, you think the elites, or whoever you think is more enlightened then those stupid rednecks on a jury, are the only ones smart enough to interpret law. Given these elites’ interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, we stand a better chance with a FULLY informed jury then waiting for the elites to restore our fellow citizens rights.

    As for fixing the law itself… so we should just keep waiting for the guardians of the law to release the prisoners who were put behind bars by our decision to follow their “interpretation” of law, (no matter how unconstitutional that interpretation might be)? I’m not seeing how that’s going to help.

    According to you the track record of jury nullification is bad. Let’s look at track records. How is the track record of our courts limiting the power of government to that which is provided in the Constitution? Hmmmm… bad, right? Yet, you still think we should be relying on those same courts for rulings on laws?

    Because of the jury system, these powers were put in our hands, yet you are screaming that we shouldn’t use it, (nor even be informed of it). If we never used jury nullification, how would the rulers of law ever see their errors and correct their interpretations? Or are we still relying on their track record of fixing errors?

  18. mike hollihan Says:

    Jury nullifications can have far reaching consequences. It was back in the Eighties in Pittsburgh (IIRC; Pennsylvania, anyway). Black juries routinely refused to convict black defendants on almost any drug charge, no matter the evidence. It was causing a huge “problem” for the DA, to the extent that they began to try drug cases elsewhere. The citizens argued over and over that the cops were corrupt and abusive, that they manufactured charges and evidence so, in response, the citizens refused to convict.

    After a while, there was an investigation and sure enough! The cops *were* corrupt and abusive. Not in every case, but it was systemic. Huge scandal, sweeping reforms.

    No one cared until the citizens shook the foundations.

    I appeared for jury duty on a Federal jury here in Memphis about 7 years ago and one woman (who was black) flatly told the judge she would not find any black defendant guilty on drug charges. The judge actually tried to educate, bully and shame her into changing her mind in order to keep her on the jury!

  19. Xrlq Says:

    X, “Besides, even ‘good’ jury nullifications of ‘bad’ laws are a poor substitute for fixing the law itself.”

    Tell that to the person who a jury refuses to convict.

    Why? Of all the people in the world to ask whether a given criminal conviction or acquittal was or was not just, the last person I’d ask is the person who was on trial. If he was acquitted for any reason, of course he thinks that’s a good verdict. Justice was done in O.J.’s case, too – if you ask O.J.

    So, you think the elites, or whoever you think is more enlightened then those stupid rednecks on a jury, are the only ones smart enough to interpret law.

    Close. At trial, I think judges and juries alike should stick to their jobs. Judges shouldn’t second-guess juries’ findings of fact, and juries shouldn’t second-guess judges’ rulings on the law. On appeal, appellate courts should not hesitate to second-guess the trial judge’s rulings on the law, but should be loathe to disturb a jury’s findings of fact. In short, I basically favor the system we have now.

    Given these elites’ interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, we stand a better chance with a FULLY informed jury then waiting for the elites to restore our fellow citizens rights.

    Of course the “elites” sometimes get the law wrong, the Second Amendment being a prime example of that. That’s a strong argument for a better Supreme Court, or even for a “no, you dummies” amendment to the Second Amendment. It’s a lame argument for judicial anarchy, which will do nothing to restore anybody’s Second Amendment rights anyway. A jury acquittal gets one gun owner off on the criminal charges, once. Other defendants can’t cite his case, and he himself can’t cite it in the civil trial, when the government says “OK, we won’t imprison you for having had your gun illegally, but we’re taking it away from you now.” And jury nullifications are worthless in civil trials.

  20. FishOrMan Says:

    Judicial anarchy… lol

    You aren’t talking about what we have now are you, where money buys freedom? No, that’s right, you favor this system.

    The “elites” sometimes get the law wrong? SOMETIMES??? The system’s entire foundation is now grounded on lies and deceit. The Constitution allows for a very limited federal government, yet the courts allow the will of whatever 51% of congress agree upon to take effect. “Interstate commerce” now means 10,000 pages of laws. While, “shall not infringe” is meaningless.

    Amendment X, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” How’s the court’s track record on the interpretation of Amendment X???

    If you are trying to claim that past correction of wrongs have come about from within our court system, I would like to see some examples. Civil disobedience, “judical anarchy,” or whatever you would like to call it has always been the catalyst for change. How many of our rights have been secured by the “wait and see what they give us” approach?

    No matter how much you wish it were true, our court system is NOT self-correcting. Not unless you consider civil disobedience, “judical anarchy”, (jury nullification), a part of the system.

    “Besides, even ‘good’ jury nullifications of ‘bad’ laws are a poor substitute for fixing the law itself.”

    BTW, who said it needed to be a “substitute”? It only becomes a substitute if we the people accept the status quo, relying on the rulers to correct their own mistakes, (don’t hold your breath).

    Go ahead, X… start telling me I drink the Kool-Aid again?

  21. teqjack Says:

    How did this get to be about jury nullification? Anyhoo, on the post itself, I am with Countertop: I was reflecting on this a day or so ago, in act, on the use of “depose” w/r Saddam vs questioning a witness.

    So, OK, jury nullification. Yes, too easily abused by jurors and some lawyers. But I would not want to toss it.

    Silly hypothetical? It is against the law to have a knife with a blade over three inches. Some prosecutor decides to harass someone (perhaps a known killer, perhaps just someone who painted his house purple) and charges him under this law when he purchases a set of steak knives and carries it out of the store. Would I convict? The law is fairly clear, carrying a large knife is illegal — but I would be against convicting. True, in this example I would not be against the law itself, but its application.

    Can’t happen? Hah! How about a five-year-old being a registered sex offender for kissing a playmate during school recess? I don’t think he was convicted — but police were summoned, he was arrested, and scheduled to appear in court.

  22. Xrlq Says:

    Fishy Man:

    Judicial anarchy… lol

    You aren’t talking about what we have now are you, where money buys freedom? No, that’s right, you favor this system.

    Until someone can propose something better, yes. It’s easy to bitch and moan about the imperfections in the system; it’s much harder to do anything constructive about it. The only cure you’ve proposed is far worse than the disease, but if you’ve got anything better, I’m all ears.

    The “elites” sometimes get the law wrong? SOMETIMES??? The system’s entire foundation is now grounded on lies and deceit.

    Sorry, I thought you were posting from the U.S., not North Korea, Red China or Iran. My bad.

    The Constitution allows for a very limited federal government, yet the courts allow the will of whatever 51% of congress agree upon to take effect.

    Horse shit. For one thing, 51% of Congress isn’t enough; it has to pass both houses, and then be signed into law by the President – or override a veto, which requires a hell of a lot more than 51%. For another, it’s not as though courts never strike down laws as unconstitutional. Sometimes they uphold laws they should strike down. Other times, they strike down laws they should uphold. Neither is ideal, but hello – that’s what happens when humans are involved. If you think 12 random schmucks off the street will do any better in this regard, that’s some really good shit you’ve been smoking. Can I have some?

    “Interstate commerce” now means 10,000 pages of laws.

    Silly me, I never knew about that funky provision of the Constitution that limits the number of laws that may be on the books at any one time. Courts do allow a lot of laws to stand that exceed the commerce clause, but if you think a jury would ever strike down a law on that basis that’s some even better shit you’ve been smoking. Can I please, please, please have some?

    While, “shall not infringe” is meaningless.

    Indeed, which is why that very same jury that refused to convict Bernard Goetz for shooting those bastards who attacked him, also voted to convict him for the crime of having his gun with him in the first place. All hail the sacred jury system!

    Amendment X, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    How’s the court’s track record on the interpretation of Amendment X???

    Up until the FDR era, stellar. Massive political pressure, not from 51% but from an overwhelming supermajority, ultimately changed that. Post-FDR, it’s not so good, but even today it’s marginally better than that of the public generally. If Alfonso Lopez’s gun case or Antonio Morrison’s rape case had gone to a jury, what are the odds that either would have been nullified on the grounds that it exceeded Congress’s enumerated powers under the Commerce Clause? If your answer to that question is anywhere north of “slim” or “none,” that’s some truly righteous shit you’re smoking. I have GOT to get my hands on some.

    If you are trying to claim that past correction of wrongs have come about from within our court system, I would like to see some examples.

    Well, to name only a few of the more obvious ones, Brown v. Board of Education ended school segregation, Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage, Pierce v. Society of Sisters established a constitutional right to send your kid to private schools, and Shelley v. Kramer ended racially restrictive covenants. Korematsu v. U.S. was a trickier case. On the one hand, it upheld Japanese internment; on the other, it laid out pretty reasonable criteria as to what government can and cannot do during wartime, which nearly all legal scholars agree would lead to the opposite result if applied today. There’s plenty more where those came from.

    Civil disobedience, “judical anarchy,” or whatever you would like to call it has always been the catalyst for change.

    Bullshit. Judicial anarchy has almost never been the catalyst for change. Slavery was ended by a nasty war and three constitutional amendments, not by juries making up laws. Women’s suffrage required no war, thank God, but again, it was effected by Congress, not by some rogue jury refusing to accept a system that only allowed men to vote. Etc.

    How many of our rights have been secured by the “wait and see what they give us” approach?

    None. Good thing I’m not arguing for that approach, isn’t it?

    No matter how much you wish it were true, our court system is NOT self-correcting. Not unless you consider civil disobedience, “judical anarchy”, (jury nullification), a part of the system.

    Civil disobedience (citizens willfully flouting the law and accepting the punishment as part of the deal) is. Judicial anarchy (rogue jurors flouting the law with impunity) is not.

    “Besides, even ‘good’ jury nullifications of ‘bad’ laws are a poor substitute for fixing the law itself.”

    BTW, who said it needed to be a “substitute”?

    Common sense. Once an unjust law has been amended to address the injustice, there’s nothing left for a jury to nullify. The only problem, of course, is that juries can’t be trusted only to nullify bad laws; they’ll do it to good ones, too, or as TGirsch mentioned before, even to laws they themselves have no problem with, and just don’t want to see applied against a particular defendant in a particular case because … well, just because.

    It only becomes a substitute if we the people accept the status quo, relying on the rulers to correct their own mistakes, (don’t hold your breath).

    For those of you living in Iran, North Korea or Red China, I’m afraid you’re right. My advice: sneak over the border to the U.S. if you get a chance. You’ll find that in this here country, citizens can petition their government to change their laws any time they want – and vote them out of office if they refuse to comply. What a concept!

    Go ahead, X… start telling me I drink the Kool-Aid again?

    Nah, whatever you’re consuming is waaaaayyyy better than Kool-Aid. You can’t get a buzz like that off of Kool-Aid. I’ve tried.

  23. FishOrMan Says:

    Your screams have turned into, “our court system is better then China’s court system”. That statement would be true for another 100 years of our failing courts interpretation of laws, but what’s your point?

    China’s legal system or our legal system… Are those our only choices? It’s almost like you are promoting a state of fear. “Judicial Anarchy” “Cure… worse then the disease” “Rogue Jurors” All to insure that the citizens continue to remember why they NEED our current system. Without it, we would all be locked up as political prisoners. Wonderful, heart-string pull.

    You have yet to address the very reason a jury of our peers was put into the court system. A jury that was designed to rule on both facts and law. In fact, you’ve done nothing but say how bad the jury system is. Never bothering to find fault in our elites, (they are just humans who make mistakes), while jurors are “schmucks off the street”. You sound an awful lot like an elitist.

    Could it be that jurors are lied to by our courts about their ability and duty to rule against bad laws? Might that be the reasoning they don’t limit the excesses in “eminent domain” or “asset seizure” or “interstate commerce” or “the right to bear arms”? Jurors are directly lied to by the judges and lawyers about their duties. They are removed from the jury pool if they express beliefs otherwise. Judges and lawyers have been working a long time at insuring that only jurors who are the kind which promote this system are allowed into the box.

    Yet, you now blame jury nullification’s ineffectiveness on the “schmucks”?

    By the way, why is our government more then happy with this type of jury rubber-stamping of unconstitutional laws that we currently have? It is another less hurdle for a totalitarian government to have to cross. This was the main reason for the jury system in the first place. A jury of our peers.

    What was envisioned by our founders as a very difficult hurdle for government to cross, our current court system has made irrelevant. Irrelevant to the point that smart people like yourself now claim jury’s shouldn’t even have the ability to rule on the law.

    We scream for it. Take away what little power remains in the hands of the people. The “schmucks” can’t be trusted with it.

    We currently have jury nullification, (although jurors are lied to about it), AND our appeals courts and the supreme court available to “fix” bad laws. Neither process is stopping unconstitutional laws from taking effect. The removal of jury nullification might mean a few more OJs get convicted, but it will also do nothing to rid the application of unconstitutional laws. I am not worried about some OJs out there playing golf. There will always be murders walking among us. It’s part of life. Be prepared and deal with it. But, the removal of the power of jury nullification from the hands of the “schmucks off the street” could ultimately be far more dangerous. Or wait, are you one of those, “it could never happen here” crowd? If so, then there is nothing to see here, move along.

    As for every court ruling you cited, the catalyst for solving these unconstitutional infringements was not jury nullification, but neither was it the courts reinterpretation of unjust laws. The catalyst was someone, (or a group of someones), listening to the government’s claim of power in a certain area of their life, and then doing the opposite. Usually, happening at great costs to the participants, very often with the courts approval that their lives be destroyed for many, many years, (in fact decades). That is until the proper Public Relations were put to use and the majority of the citizens would no longer convict for those “crimes”. Then there would be a jury system that realized it’s true duties of judging both facts and law. What would happen today if a black man were going on trial for marrying a white woman? Jury nullification would happen now, and it should have happened back then. But there were judges and lawyers like yourself telling jurors that wasn’t a decision they were allowed to rule on… Well, those bastards were wrong then and they are wrong now. Oh, but wait, we are part of the, “that could never happen here” crowd.. Want another hit.

    Finally, if our court system sometimes does get it right, wouldn’t that mean there would be at least a few days when the power and size of the federal government did NOT grow??? I am not holding my breath for that day to come? Maybe we could all try some petitioning… And you’re still telling me I’m smoking it???

  24. Xrlq Says:

    Your screams have turned into, “our court system is better then China’s court system”.

    No, that would be your screams. You’re the one, not me, who insists on making hyperbolic, unsupportable statements that would be true if said about China’s system, but are nowhere close to the truth if said about the U.S.

    Never bothering to find fault in our elites, (they are just humans who make mistakes), while jurors are “schmucks off the street”. You sound an awful lot like an elitist.

    And you sound even more like an idiot who has never even read my blog, yet somehow fancies himself as qualified to comment on it. In fact, I bash lousy court decisions all the time; I just don’t delude myself into thinking that 12 randomly chosen individuals with no legal training will do better. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do think someone with a Ph.D. in Physics from M.I.T. understands physics better then the average homeless person does. If that makes me an “elitist” in your book, so be it.

    You have yet to address the very reason a jury of our peers was put into the court system. A jury that was designed to rule on both facts and law.

    Sez you. You’ve yet to provide any evidence that this is the case. If the jury was supposed to rule on both the facts and the law, the WTF do you think the judge is supposed to do? Bang his gavel around every now and then, but only when the jury foreman asks him to? And why did we allow a judge to preside over the jury selection process, either? I guess that in Jason-Land, we should have left that process up to another jury, which in turn would have been selected by yet another, and so ad infinitum.

    We currently have jury nullification, (although jurors are lied to about it),

    No, they’re not. They’re told the truth; it just happens to be a truth you don’t like.

    What would happen today if a black man were going on trial for marrying a white woman?

    The same thing that would happen if any legislator was stupid enough to try to introduce a law making it a crime for a black man to marry a white woman.

    But there were judges and lawyers like yourself telling jurors that wasn’t a decision they were allowed to rule on…

    Of course they’re not, as there is no law today that bans a black man from marrying a white woman. But Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter (races reversed, but never mind that) knew full well that a jury would be no help to them; that’s why they pleaded guilty rather than relying on a jury to nullify a law no Virginia jury would have nullified in 1967.

  25. jesse Says:

    No, they’re not. They’re told the truth; it just happens to be a truth you don’t like.

    The Oregon constitution explictly states that it is the duty of the jury to judge both the facts _and_ the law, but judges here continue to blatently lie to those that serve.