Jury Nullification: A Tool for Advancing Gun Rights?

The recent mistrial in the case of U.S. Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham shows the lack of education of the Bell County jurors. The mistrial occurred because only one juror of the six understood his rights and responsibilities as a juror. Initially, according to jury member L.J. Cotterill, “we all agreed that the charge itself and the case itself was garbage. This entire matter should have been resolved by two grown men acting like grown men apologizing for their part in a bad situation and buying each other a beer and then going to a range together.” The problem was that the jury didn’t know their rights and power to find “not guilty” if justice demanded it. Let alone their right to ignore a judge’s instructions . . .

The ability to ignore a judge’s instructions is one of the most important parts of jury duty. It derives directly form English common law and the landmark case of Peter Zenger in 1734. If a jury is bound to follow the judge’s instructions, they become, in effect, nothing more than government employees rather than free people with a duty to hold the government as well as citizens accountable.

Jurors were commonly told of their power to nullify unjust law until 1895 when the Supreme Court ruled that a jury need not be told of their right to judge the law. Judges have become more and more hostile toward jury nullification of the law since that time, to the point that defense counsels are now forbidden from telling juries that they have the power.

To correct this imbalance in the law, some states are now considering requiring that juries be instructed about their powers. Georgia is considering such a law.

In the Grisham case, the jury was told that they had no ability to consider anything other than what the judge instructed. From examiner.com:

“If I had been allowed to factor in self-defense,” Cotterill said, “This would have probably been a two-minute deliberation and we all would have went ‘not guilty.’”

The problem is, he explained, all the jury was allowed to consider was criminal negligence using the definition that had been provided. The jury was not allowed to factor in circumstance or anything else – it was just did this thing happen? All evidence considered had to be from witness statements.

After 12 hours of arguing “not guilty,” Cotterill said he had to admit that Grisham did indeed commit the acts. The jury, he said, was not there to decide if there were mitigating circumstances.

It was only because one juror wasn’t cowed by the judge that Grisham wasn’t found guilty, even though all the jurors believed that a finding of guilty was uncalled for.

The case shows that Second Amendment supporters have a lot of education to accomplish so that those who support the right to keep and bear arms understand the full power of the jury box. It’s a way to prevent injustice without resorting to armed resistance. All of the five jurors who voted to find Grisham guilty claimed to be Second Amendment supporters. The one brave and stubborn member who held his ground against the judge and five fellow jurors was the only one who didn’t claim to be “pro gun“.

The jury composition included corrections officer Cotterill, a law enforcement officer and a Marine. He said all but one – the individual who voted “not guilty” – were pro-gun.

Everyone wants to avoid bloodshed to restore the constitutional limits on government that have been chipped away during the last hundred plus years. Using the jury box to limit government excesses will be a strong tool in our kit. Clearly, the jurors in Bell County, Texas, are desperately in need of some education.

 

©2013 by Dean Weingarten of the Gun Watch Blog: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

comments

  1. Wait wtf, I didn’t know you couldn’t tell jurors that… What is the point of being jurors if you follow the Judge instructions to the letter; what if they leave no alternative but guilty under the facade of “debate”. Wtf!

    1. avatar ChuckN says:

      Simple, if jurors are taught what their powers really are then
      it threatens the “all-powerful” niche lawyers and judges have
      created for themselves. Hence why jurors are rarely if ever
      told that they can ignore the judge and make their own
      decision.

      1. avatar Freedom1Man says:

        Bingo.

        Judges are scared of the truth. They don’t want the jury knowing the truth.

        1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        2. avatar William Burke says:

          Just this evening read of a case in Texas, where a DA knowingly sent an innocent man to prison by suppressing exculpatory evidence. What makes this different is that, for the first time anyone can find, the DA, now a just-resigned judge, is going to jail for it.

          It’s not all rainbows and lollipops, though. The innocent man served 25 years. The DA/judge is getting 600 hours community service and 10 days in jail…

    2. avatar Rokurota says:

      Now everyone chill out for a second. Jury instructions are not there to be ignored wholesale. If what we’re all saying is true — that your average juror knows as much about law as I know unified field theory — then jury instructions serve as their only guidepost to the law and statute. My wife used to be a judicial law clerk and spent many hours writing these instructions before the jury went into deliberations. Verdicts need to be based on statute, not a vague impression that someone did something wrong.

      I get what everyone’s saying here, but let’s tread carefully. When activist judges vacate duly legislated laws we like, we cry foul. When Holder selectively prosecutes and ignores laws, we grind our teeth. But then we celebrate New York sheriffs doing the same and the ability of a jury of six people to nullify statute. Jury nullification has its place, but it can go the other way if you get six moms who demand action.

      1. avatar Blue says:

        Those mda chicks wouldn’t be seated on the jury.

        1. avatar Rokurota says:

          Is that supposed to be a rebuttal? “That won’t happen” is no answer.

        2. avatar Blue says:

          If you had ever been on a jury and gone through the jury selection process, you would know that it is in fact a rebuttal. The defense attorneys would be incompetent to seat 1 mda much less 6 of them.

        3. avatar Rokurota says:

          You are assuming a rabid gungrabber would be honest about her views during jury selection. If I was in the jury pool for MSGT Grisham’s trial I might not be entirely forthcoming about my gun views either.

        4. avatar Blue says:

          That is why potential jurors are questioned in front of the judge and both the prosecution and defense team. Plus, if Shannon Watts was able to slip buy, it could lead to a mistrial etc.

      2. avatar JoshuaS says:

        There heart of the matter is that juries can make findings of both fact and law, though through species reason the courts have ruled they can be lied to about the latter.

        The SCOTUS case, I read it years ago, was over a man charged with murder. What he did seemed to fit manslaughter. The question arose whether the jury could find him guilty of the lesser charge, though that wasn’t what was presented. IOW, the prosecution argues this guy is a murder, but the case doesn’t prove that, but does show manslaughter (which is an “included offense”) Can the jury make that finding?

        Yes, but you can tell them they cannot, even though they can, was SCOTUS’s reasoning.

        Now certainly jury instructions are important. The main role of the judge, after all, is to make findings of law. The jury makes findings of fact in light of the law. But equity or epikeia sometimes demand that a law not be applied. Imagine the law were rigidly written about which side of the road to be on. You swerve to the left to avoid a baby carriage. You violated the letter of the law, but it would be unjust to charge you. And if charge, unjust to convict. That is where jury nullification comes in, when prosecutorial discretion or the judge fails to apply epikeia.

        A jury’s findings of law, however, are limited to the specific case. There is no stare decisis. So a gaggle of MDA types could play jury nullification in A case, but they set no precedent.

        Juries are only a shadow of what they used to be. They used to actually investigate the evidence and not merely sit there and be told. Even after we went to a passive jury, no longer investigators, they used to be more involved in asking questions. Now it is essentially sit there and let us work it out in front of you.

        1. avatar bobwall says:

          In CO, judges may allow jurors to pose questions relevant to examination/cross-examination. DAs are not fond of this.

        2. avatar Hannibal says:

          Probably because juries are usually made up of people who have watched too much “CSI” and consider it akin to a law degree.

        3. avatar Freedom1Man says:

          As a juror it’s your job to understand the law. If you’re not willing to do that then you should never ask for a jury trial.

          If it only judges and lawyers can understand the law then only judges and lawyers can be held accountable to the law. How can the common citizen be held account accountable for a law of which he cannot ever understand?

        4. avatar WILLIAM R LYTLE says:

          in response to “Freedom 1 man”: A juror does not request a jury trial. When you receive notice of jury duty, you are compelled by law to report and can only be excused from jury duty by proving that it would cause undue hardship. if a judge instructs a jury contrary (or in violation) to law or the constitution, it is up to the defense attorney.

      3. avatar Howdy says:

        What you describe are government employees acting in the government’s interest. Thereby increasing government’s power over citizens. The exact opposite of the Constitution. The Constitution is there to limit government. Not to pass healthcare, build the NSA, IRS infringements, etc.

        Your description of the Sheriff’s acting on the behalf of citizen’s rights is the intended consequence of our Constitution.

        As for the six moms, fear, uncertainty, doubt, elitism and ignorance are not valid reasons for violating any of our constitutionally protected innate rights.

      4. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Rokurota,

        You are flat out wrong. Juries exist to serve justice, period. They do not exist to prosecute people for violating statutes. That may sound counter-intuitive at first so I will explain.

        Any government agency can pass any statute they desire … including statutes that literally criminalize people who have not harmed anyone or anything. If that is the situation of a criminal trial, the jury as always is obligated to serve justice … and justice demands that they find a defendant not guilty in that setting.

        And to address your specific point about juries not being judges or attorneys and needed huge amounts of instruction to understand the law that is quite literally irrelevant. In fact it is a good thing that juries are neither judges nor attorneys. That enables them to clearly see whether a defendant actually harmed someone and is actually guilty.

        1. avatar Rokurota says:

          Uncommon, I don’t think you’re reading my comment right (or I wrote it poorly). I never said juries are there to do the will of the state. I was contesting the notion that Julian put forward that jury instructions instruct juries on which verdict to deliver. That is not true. Jury instructions elucidate the statute so juries can find based on the actual law, not on some impression of the law. Look how much misinformation there is on SYG. I am thankful that if ever I’m on trial for “standing my ground,” the jury will get the real skinny on what that entails, instead of Maureen Dowd’s misinformed idea.

          The law as written is important — it is the objective framework that equalizes us. Sure, legislators often times overwrite them, or write them poorly, and they certainly make too many of them. But the wording of laws is important. I never said, as you did, that juries need “huge amounts of instruction,” but I also fear a jury who disregards the law to “clearly see” whether a “defendant harmed someone.” Harm has nothing to do with it. If I shoot a home invader in my house, I’ve harmed that person, but I am within the law. If I shoot someone making off with my TV but who did not threaten me, I have harmed that person but am now outside the law.

          I get what you’re saying about non-legislated regulation, and yes, if juries repeatedly refuse to convict on an unjust regulation or law, it has the effect of voiding the law. It is a great tool of democracy. My point, however, is that it goes both ways — juries in a locality can repeatedly find that open carry = brandishing and nullify OC altogether. If one does not like a law, take it to the legislature.

      5. avatar Greg Cherryson says:

        “that your average juror knows as much about law as I know unified field theory”

        You don’t have to be a physicist, but the law is supposed to apply to everybody. If the law is unclear to an individual possessing rudimentary inteligence and life experience, then the law is bad, because it cannot be reasonably obeyed.

        So, either we assume that the law is reasonable, and thus the jurors are competent to judge if it is correct and applied properly, OR we assume that the law is faulty, and such laws should be nullified without mercy.

        1. avatar Freedom1Man says:

          Well said, well said.

          I may use those words or at least your style of the telling of it to help educate others.

      6. avatar Freedom1Man says:

        Juries are the last great defense of liberty. If they were there just to rubber stamp the judge’s rulings then why do we have them at all except for show?

        The jury box is the final way to stand up against injustice, unjust/unwanted laws, criminal actions of a judge, etc.

        If you don’t want freedom then please leave to someplace more friendly to you beliefs, like Britain, China, Iran, or Zimbabwe.

        You as a juror are setting the rules for which your community is to live by.

  2. avatar Chaz says:

    The last time I was called in for jury selection, during the voir dire, I played my get off the jury free card by asking the prosecutor to explain jury nullification. He replied in so many words that he was not allowed to discuss that in court.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Far be it for me tell you what to do, but I’d like to suggest to everyone that they can do the cause of jury nullification a great service by NOT mentioning jury nullification to anyone. Maybe you needed to get out of duty, and that’s OK, but we need fully-informed jury members; they can make all the difference in the world in prevent unjust prosecutions and verdicts.

      Just remember: you can see that some innocent citizen doesn’t get railroaded on a bogus gun or weed charge. Wouldn’t that make you feel like it was all worthwhile? It sure would for me.

      1. avatar Pascal says:

        You mean like this jury?

        Prosecutor Defeated by Glaring Stupidity of Pot Laws
        http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/14/kansas-prosecutor-defeated-by-glaring-st

        Its a great read, the entire jury refused and the Judge had to take a day to recompose himself

      2. avatar neiowa says:

        Correct. Except dopers need to be in jail.

        1. avatar Jacob Bang Bang says:

          Why?

        2. avatar Jus Bill says:

          No, they need to be in rehab. Criminals need to be in jail.

        3. avatar William Burke says:

          WAIT. Everybody who uses drugs “needs to be in rehab”?

          Does everyone who drinks need to be in rehab, also? That’s not my country; I live in a different USA. If you feel that way, stay the hell out of MY USA.

        4. avatar Rich Grise says:

          Zieg heil, komrade!

    2. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

      You remind me of the public school teacher in Deer Park, TX who, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ike, with exactly zero damage to her own abundantly stocked house, but with plenty of paid time off because school was out, whiled away the days piling up and gobbling down free emergency meals-ready-to-eat from the Salvation Army. How yummy they were, she’d proclaim in multiple daily food review posts to her Facebook page. Meanwhile, many other hard hit Houston area hurricane victims scrounged for food or went hungry.

      You know what nullification is. You know how important that tool is, let alone how vital the jury system itself is as a backstop against government thuggery. Yet, you gleefully play your little card, brag about how oh so clever you are, and then skip out on one of the most important duties you have as a citizen, hell, as a human being.

      I don’t want to wait until I cool off before posting this, nor do I want to have take anything back later. So I’ll just end it here before I say too much more. Just know, that there is much, much more. Good day, sir.

      1. avatar Chaz says:

        You know what nullification is.
        As it turned out at that time I did not know; I had just recently heard the term. Later after a bit of research I realized why the prosecutor did not want (probably was not allowed) to discuss it.

        1. avatar Gregolas says:

          Burke is correct. In Alabama it is forbidden to argue or bring up jury nullification at trial. But the jury can still find the defendant “Not Guilty” without mentioning the term. However, the ability to mention the reason for the jury’s verdict would be a major message to the powers that be to back off tyrannical laws.
          All states should formally recognize nullification as a Constitutional right

        2. avatar Blue says:

          Those judges and lawyers don’t like lowly citizens being able to check their powers.

  3. avatar The Last Marine out says:

    He is 100 % correct the jury is the law, We THE People are the only TRUE government , all the rest that work in or for governments work for us …WE THE PEOPLE are America…They are employed and paid by us 100% … WAKE UP AMERICA to all our rights.. Right now the whole bill of rights is under attack as never before in history…Vote the bums out … All of them , and let no judge tell you the LAW . What the people say is the LAW!

    1. avatar Arod529 says:

      Bookmarking that. Thanks for sharing.

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      Great name, love the reference

  4. avatar Rich Grise says:

    I once got excused from jury duty because I admitted that I was biased in favor of upholding the Constitution.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Now you know it’s worth a lie, right? You aren’t under oath or anything…

    2. avatar Blue says:

      Did the judge dismiss themselves since they swore an oath to uphold it? Excuse me your honor, but don’t you?

      1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        It didn’t occur to me at the time, and I’m terribly intimidated by authority figures (a personality defect that I’m getting better at since I’m no longer drunk all the time) and didn’t want anyone to think I was some kind of troublemaker.

        Now I know better, but hindsight is always 20/20.

  5. avatar Thomas Paine says:

    don’t they teach jury nullification in high school? oh, nevermind.

    1. avatar chuck (hates nj) says:

      They really should. We could ditch the mandatory spanish and teach legal mumbo jumbo.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        You’d be surprised how far a leetle Spanish can get you in the right Mexican restaurant!

        1. avatar Tom says:

          “mas cerveza por favor”. All you need to know.

        2. avatar Rich Grise says:

          Don’t forget “¿dónde está el baño?”

        3. avatar William Burke says:

          I was thinking more along the lines of: ¿Qué hace después del trabajo?

      2. avatar dsreno says:

        Spanish isn’t mandatory. “Foreign Language” is. Most high schools in my area offer at least three languages. I chose German, while most of my friends chose French. I didn’t realize until much later that French was the language all of the girls took. Man, I was a stupid kid…

        A single semester of US Government is mandatory in high schools where I live. It goes by so fast that they don’t get to elaborate on too much. It’s been over 10 years, but I don’t remember my teacher mentioning jury nullification at all. On the bright side, she did constantly reminded us that the people are in charge of the government and it is our responsibility to correct it if/when that starts to reverse.

        1. avatar JeremyR says:

          If you had learned the German right, they’d have surrendered to you in no time at all. Didn’t you take history?

        2. avatar Hannibal says:

          apparently your history class didn’t cover 1750-1920…

      3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        I didn’t take Spanish, I took 3 years of French, I figured knowing the French dialect would serve me well here in Texas :\

        1. avatar Gregolas says:

          Me too. Three years of high school French. Went to France my senior year, and not one of the lousy Parisians wanted to talk unless they deemed my French perfect. “Ah, un Americain. Hoch, Ptui!”

  6. avatar Blue says:

    Its real simple judge. “Not guilty.”

  7. avatar Rich Grise says:

    State legislatures and governors can also nullify:
    http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2012/11/14/nullification-in-one-lesson/

  8. avatar Morris says:

    I thought I was a pretty strong willed individual but I don’t think I have the stones to tell a cop, I’m not putting down my rifle, let alone start scuffling with him.

  9. avatar Art Tilges says:

    Check out http://fija.org/ the website for the Fully Informed Jury Association. This is from their web site.

    “The primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by the government. The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring it’s case before a jury of The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convect.”

    This is a very good site to find out exactly what your duty is while sitting on a jury. Even is you think a law is unfair you can vote to not find the accused guilty. A jury has much more power than most people think. I highly recommend you bookmark this site and refer to it any time you are called for jury duty.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      “Refusing to convect”. That’s COLD, man!

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Oh. my. God.

        That might be the best thing I’ve read here in… ever.

      2. avatar Hasdrubal says:

        That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Best thing I’ve read all day. I think that might have been the pun thing to rule them all.

        2. avatar AlphaGeek says:

          Ugh. Ing…

      3. avatar ropingdown says:

        If they refuse to convect, they’ll actually roast in their own juices.

  10. avatar Zacf16 says:

    This is the best post I’ve read on this site.

    Thanks RF!

  11. avatar BeninMA says:

    Last year New Hampshire passed a law that actually allows Juries to be told that they can nullify.

    It’s already been used (although the law wasn’t technically in effect, the Judge allowed it to be presented to the Jury):

    http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120923/NEWS03/709239922

  12. avatar g says:

    Jury nullification in cases where it is just and necessary? Yes.

    Dunno if it applies to this guy, though:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4E9Yr2OnIw

    Yon commentary:

    http://www.michaelyon-online.com/stalking-soldier-arrested-disarmed-by-texas-police-some-facts-opinion-and-analysis.htm

    1. Yon and Grisham go way back. Yon had been man hating on him for years about his opinions on his mil blog. Yon cannot be your source of info for anything related to Grisham.

  13. avatar Model 31 says:

    This is good stuff…and nope, not taught in high school 20 years ago.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Y’know, my (we called it 45 years ago) Civics teacher would have taught it, I’m sure. He was the absolute greatest: bell-to-bell Constitution and BOR. He’s still alive, too.

      The only reason I can think of that he didn’t teach jury nullification is that, back in the sixties, even HE couldn’t imagine things would get so far gone that it would need teaching.

    2. avatar Model 31 says:

      Thinking about it some more…as I minored in Poli-Sci, it never came up there either.

  14. avatar Ralph says:

    And what if nullification goes the other way? What if a jury is charged that they must acquit and they decide, “Fvck that. White Hispanic guy killed the black guy, we don’t agree with Stand Your Ground. We’re convicting.”

    Think it can’t happen? If you do, then you’re fools. The Zimmerman jury acquitted because they were told that they had to. Two of the jurors have already said that they wanted to convict but couldn’t because of the judge’s instructions. If they had nullified, GZ would be doing life right now.

    Judges decide the law. Juries decide the facts. Otherwise, law does not exist.

    Be careful what you wish for. You won’t like it.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Appreciate the stern cautionary note; you’re quite right. But all considered, I have to think we’re much better off with jury nullification than without. Sic Semper Tyrannis!

    2. Juries can nullify, they cannot prosecute. The case had to be brought before the jury to begin with. If you look at history, juries have often refused to convict, but seldom convicted when the judge thought they should aquit, because a judge has significant power as well. The power of juries was one of the prime restraints built into the system from the begining.

      1. avatar JeffR says:

        “Juries can nullify, they cannot prosecute.”

        Uh, no, the judge can keep a case from going to the jury, but that is the only check against a jury going the other way. And that is a very important check. But judges are scared to death of NOT letting cases go to the jury. Even judges don’t like being second-guessed.

      2. avatar fanfare ends says:

        Mr. Weingarten, your last paragraph is key.

    3. avatar Model 31 says:

      Taken from wiki…fwiw
      “A jury can similarly convict a defendant on the ground of disagreement with an existing law, even if no law is broken (although in jurisdictions with double jeopardy rules, a conviction can be overturned on appeal, but an acquittal cannot)”

      I would be happy with a law that requires a judge to declare a mistrial in cases where a jury convicts when no law is broken and provides grounds for appeal if the judge doesn’t.

    4. avatar Sam Spade says:

      O.J. is who I think of when I think of jury nullification.

    5. avatar Blue says:

      Actually, there would have been a hung jury. Plus, if they said screw the law, we think he is guilty anyway, the judge can toss out the conviction. Of course the judge was in the bag for Angela Corey.

  15. avatar JP in Tennessee says:

    I’m a lawyer, and served in the Army JAG Corps and in private practice. Yes, jury nullification exists (and should exist). At one time, juries could be told that they had the right to judge “both the law and the facts.” Today, juries are only allowed to be told that they may judge the facts, not the law. I’m not sure which system is best. But in my heart, I’m glad that some juries do, in fact, judge the law. That’s how America grows.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      Though I don’t have the text of the master in front of me, the institution of the jury exists to do “rough justice.” It will often be clear to a jury that it really does matter that a defendant had no idea the particular law existed, or that a law created by a distant legislature does not fit the community. It is much like the incantation of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which really means “take the matter seriously, because a person’s freedom is at stake.” The problem with juries arises when the jurors, judge, and defendant are not of the same community. The “jury of your peers” once often existed. Today it is extremely rare. You will find your jury less educated and from very different towns than the one you live in. With a bit of bad luck they will have racial and class resentments toward either the prosecutor or the defendant. I’d stick with the “do rough justice” concept. Follow the jury instructions unless the result would be repugnant to decency. If you don’t uphold the law, who will? Jury nullification in favor of a guilty verdict is an obscene concept and always wrong.

  16. avatar Glenn in USA says:

    So a mistrial was declared. Does the Sargent have any idea if the prosecution will re-try the case? I am not an attorney, but I think that unless a jury has reached a verdict the prosecution can do that. He should have never been arrested. This case should have never gone to trial. I have yet to see in Texas Criminal Code how one can wear a rifle “rudely”.

  17. avatar Al W says:

    So why can’t you demand your lawyer bring up jury nullification in your case no matter what it is? Mistrial???

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      There was a case where a defense attorney was trying to do just that and the judge threatened all sorts of judicial smack-down, including finding the defense attorney in contempt of court if he/she mentioned jury nullification.

  18. avatar Pro-Liberty says:

    If anyone is interested, part one of my short book includes a history of jury nullification: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55429420/Fighting-Back

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      $8.99 for 24-hour access!! HA!!!

      1. avatar Pro-Liberty says:

        ?

        The entire book is available for free at the link I provided (just scroll down), and in half a dozen other places. Plus, I have released it into the public domain, so anyone is free to republish, etc., with no restrictions whatsoever.

        Maybe you were confused by one of the ads that scribd has on the page?

  19. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    Another reason they don’t like empaneling lawyers on a jury . . . I had this happen on a rape trial I got jury duty for at age 19. I had the most education (w 1 year of college) than the rest of the jury. I refused to convict because the prosecutor had made the wrong charge (the guy was guilty as sin but not of the particular charge). We were hung for almost a week before the judge declared a mistrial and berated us. When I pointed out the improper charge and how it would have been an appeal issue, the prosecutor only said “oh.”. SMDH

  20. avatar Silver says:

    Hm, the concept seems like one of those things that works on the assumption that people are generally good and generally just, honorable Americans. With a jury of constitutionalists, jury nullification is a godsend. But, let’s face it, these days what are the odds of scoring a jury where half even know the Bill of Rights exists? And with progressive fascism sweeping up feeble minds, what are the odds of having a jury comprised of decent people, let alone intelligent ones?

    It’s sort of like the entire Constitution. It’s a godsend to humanity, so long as people are fully aware of its importance and implications, which is precisely why government-controlled education and media are trying their best to quash it.

    1. avatar The Last Marine out says:

      They have some little booklets out with the Constitution , Bill of Rights, and Jury Nullification, I think inforwars or shopJBS.com still have them , get and give out at gun shows, leave at the dentist office, every place you can think of! EDUCATION has to come bottom up. and get with the kids and have a talk about LIBERTY. that is where America will be saved, give to the Scouts, Sunday school, leave at the barber shop, the magazine racks at the library , have some fun at lunch ark your co-workers about jury duty, and 2A etc…

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Silver,

      Jury Nullification is still useful even if the jury has some “bad people” that will not issue a not-guilty verdict. That means a hung jury and a mistrial. As long as enough people understand and apply Jury Nullification such that just about every jury will have at least one Nullification advocate, every bogus trial will end in a mistrial. And if a prosecutor gets two mistrials in a row, I cannot see them trying a third time.

      So, even a weakened form of Jury Nullification serves us well in that prosecutors will simply give up in cases with mistrials.

  21. avatar ZM 1306 says:

    You know if we are able to teach everyone in our area properly about the 2A and Jury nullification you would be able to build any machine-gun you want and represent yourself in court and the jury would just say not guilty. You could be on your way to build a new machine-gun. Just, you know, don’t go shooting people.

  22. avatar Konrad says:

    I’ve been called for jury duty six times and served only once. In one case I was legitimately rejected during voir dire because I had previously been a party to a claim against the defendant (the county I live in). The other four times I was summarily rejected for no apparent reason other than having an advanced degree. The selection process is specifically targeted at keeping thinking people off juries.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “The selection process is specifically targeted at keeping thinking people off juries.”

      Of course … the attorneys and judges want to do the thinking for the juries.

  23. avatar TL says:

    Last time I received a jury summons, I was pretty disappointed by my co-workers’ comments about how easy it would be for me to get out of it… not from just one or two people, but several. Jury duty would NEVER be convenient for me, but it’s importance should be obvious.

    Anyway, I was empaneled, and it turned out to be a firearms trafficking case. Nullification was on my mind (and not on my lips) the entire time, but given the facts of this case I chose NOT to nullify. The defendant was a violent criminal, both by his own words and other evidence. This was not a case about a good guy who ran afoul of stupid laws through error or some sort of righteous protest, but about someone actively working to do harm to his community.

    In spite of my reservations about these laws, and about their application at the federal level as was the case here, I voted to convict and worked (successfully) to convince another jury member who was on the fence.

    Nullification is an extraordinary measure, and in my opinion not to be taken lightly. It’s not just about the law, and not just about the man, but both.

  24. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Jury Nullification is an extremely important tool. And just to give you an idea of how important and powerful that tool is, most judges expressly forbid defense attorneys from discussing it.

    It is absolutely, positively critical that we educate the public on jury nullification. We need to do it so we can persevere in the face of the assault on all of our rights, not just the Second Amendment.

    Let’s add another dimension to this to illustrate just how important Jury Nullification is. It is so much of a threat to our government that our government recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act so that they can arrest and indefinitely imprison anyone they label a “terrorist” without a trial.

  25. avatar Lars says:

    There is a database, many different ones of course, but all states have a database on potential nullification juror’s. It rates people on the threat of that person knowing about nullification and the chances they would use it and/or tell other jurors. It’s not a public list, it tends not to leave the eyes and ears of the court administrator, who of course works for the prosecutors and judges. But I had a girlfriend who worked in the court administrators office in MN and she once talked about the list. The conversation came up when we were talking about someone we use to go to high school with and how the prosecutors office wanted to know his nullification threat and she was asked to go into this database on the courts computers by someone in the prosecutors office but she was denied access. Within a few minutes of attempting to access this she was confronted by a superior and she explained the prosecutors office asked her to look and even guided her on the computer on where to go but it was password protected so she couldn’t get in. They then gave her the password which is supposedly changed weekly and she said she’s accessing peoples threat levels all the time after that incident.
    I asked her to look at my threat level, this is in 2009 if I remember correctly and I was thee highest level even though I didn’t even know about jury nullification until she told me about it. Now I understand even though I’ve been a registered voter all my adult life why I have never received a jury summons. The why of the why I don’t know though.

  26. avatar Mediocrates says:

    I submit that you can get a jury to vote “yes” to just about anything. Instructing them to ignore their duties as citizens is just a case in point. Their eyes glaze over and the bleat in obedience.

  27. avatar RKflorida says:

    Here’s a novel idea. Delete worthless courses from public schools and add in courses pertaining to citizenship. Such as jury duty, bill of rights, etc. Then every citizen would be educated about the rights and responsibilities of being a juror.

    1. avatar The Last Marine out says:

      Never happen , the program of public schools is Socialism , sample smart kids are held back , everyone must be equal, like having the boys cut out paper dolls , Public ed, is very bad for the male, if fact it is anti-male, anti-family … the big deal now is called COMMON CORE , very bad news for the American way, history is almost forgotten … It’s very SAD!

      1. avatar shawn says:

        My kids do go to Public School, but I teach them at home. That is what a parent should do.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          Common Brainwashing. 2+2 = 5. If the kids wants it to.

  28. avatar GS650G says:

    Sure the cop was being a jerk but he wasn’t in a position to teach the law on the side of the road to the cop. he should have been quiet and let them do whatever. Then hit them with a lawsuit later.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Just “go quietly”, huh?

      Look, I don’t necessarily disagree with what you say, but people are different, and some are less inclined to suffer in silence than are others. Less inclined to “go quietly into that good night”. Respect that. You SHOULD respect that!

  29. avatar GruntDoc says:

    Has anyone seen the dash cam video of the initial contact posted online?

  30. avatar shawn says:

    I thought Texas was a pro-2A and Republican. I guess the Repubs want to disarm as much as the Dems.

  31. avatar Kendahl says:

    Be careful about jury nullification. It can go both ways. One of George Zimmerman’s jurors stated after the trial that she wanted to convict him but couldn’t given the evidence and the judge’s instructions.

    1. avatar Blue says:

      Someone already brought this up, but it would have been a hung jury at best for that witch Angela Corey.

    2. avatar Rich Grise says:

      Don’t you think that maybe “given the evidence” had anything to do with that? The Simpson lynching wasn’t very successful either, I’ve heard.

  32. avatar IdahoPete says:

    OK, so everyone here has visited the FIJA website, right? (Fully Informed Jury Association). Here is a warning if you do NOT want to be kicked off a jury and removed from the jury pool forever:

    Do NOT, under any circumstances, tell a judge or your fellow jurors that you will not follow the judge’s instructions if they conflict with the Constitution. Do NOT make that argument during jury deliberations. I will guarantee that any such statement by you, during any part of the trial, will result in your being removed from the jury. Judges will NOT tolerate any citizen who thinks the Constitution trumps the judge’s will to power. Instead, be a classic idiot juror – “I just don’t FEEL like the prosecutor, you know, proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt. I can’t explain why I feel that way, but that’s how I feel.”

    As long as you base your “not guilty” on an unexplained FEELING, judges and lawyers are happy with you – you will seem to be the kind of idiot juror they like. Do NOT ever, under any circumstances, mention the Constitution.

    One of the things that defeated Prohibition was the refusal of juries to convict people for selling booze.

  33. avatar CJ Grisham says:

    Thanks for sharing my story. I am still fighting and refuse to back down. The prosecutor feels emboldened by his 5-1 jury poll and has decided to retry my case on November 18. We have submitted motions to have the judge recused and a change of venue.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Best of luck to you. You’ll be on my mind.

  34. avatar REINHEIMER says:

    Please go to the Website and register your support as a juror http://nationallibertyalliance.org/pages/registration.html . The Common Law Grand Jury is an unalienable right, protected under the Law by the Fifth Amendment. Common Law is synonymous with Natural Law which can never be codified or supplanted, for Common Law is our American Heritage, born of the Declaration of Independence. But four New York Supreme Court Judges would have us believe that Common Law can be superseded by four progressive judges in the (1961) case Wood v Hughes. To the contrary, in a stunning six to three (1992) Decision that went unnoticed, until now, Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority
    said: “The grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. “It is a constitutional fixture in its own right. In fact the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people”… “Our Founding Fathers presciently thereby, created a “buffer” the people may rely upon for justice, when public officials, including judges, criminally violate the law.”… “The common law of the Fifth Amendment demands a traditional functioning grand jury”… “It is in effect a fourth branch of government governed and administered to directly by and on behalf of the American people, and its authority emanates from the Bill of Rights”. Thus, citizens have the unbridled right to empanel their own grand juries and present “True Bills” of indictment to the court, which is then required to commence a criminal proceeding. Furthermore, on “Constitutional Issues” the United States Supreme Court rulings are the “Law of the Land” (unless repugnant to the same) and therefore over rules all State Supreme Court rulings.

    1. avatar Rich Grise says:

      “on “Constitutional Issues” the United States Supreme Court rulings are the “Law of the Land””

      I dunno.
      Article VI paragraph 2:
      “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” (emphasis added)
      http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

      Doesn’t say anything about the Supreme Court overriding the Constitution.

  35. avatar REINHEIMER says:

    Thanks Rich…….. but This statement “”….Doesn’t say anything about the Supreme Court overriding the Constitution ”

    It refers to “Rulings” …… interpreted
    ””…citizens have the unbridled right to empanel their own grand juries and present “True Bills” of indictment to the court, which is then required to commence a criminal proceeding.

    “”..Furthermore, on “Constitutional Issues” the United States Supreme Court rulings are the “Law of the Land” (unless repugnant to the same) and therefore over rules all State Supreme Court rulings.

    “”……..in a stunning six to three (1992) Decision that went unnoticed, until now, Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority said:
    “The grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. “It is a constitutional fixture in its own right. In fact the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people”… “Our Founding Fathers presciently thereby, created a “buffer” the people may rely upon for justice, when public officials, including judges, criminally violate the law.”…

  36. avatar REINHEIMER says:

    Support the “COMMON LAW GRAND JURY ” in your state!

    This worked toward overturning Prohibition before they were removed in 1933 and completely eliminated with the formation of the UN in 1946. The point is that the PEOPLE with COMMON LAW can change our Judicial System and return to its Constitutional Roots.

    The statutes and ordinances we un-knowingly consent to every day are fraudulent in nature and implemented for the most part by military tribunals with court administrators [not judge] of the UN treaty.

  37. avatar WILLIAM R LYTLE says:

    What if a law is applied retroactively ? According to the U.S. Constitution, can any law be applied retroactively???

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