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Why Jury Nullification still matters

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posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 07:07 PM
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Although it is rare to see instances of jury nullification today, it is nevertheless an option for jurors who do not agree with a particular law or how that law is applied to a specific defendant.

rotlaw.com defines the act as:


Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict that is the opposite of what the jury believes or the verdict it was instructed to return by the court.

source: www.rotlaw.com...


and from WikiPedia


A jury verdict that is contrary to the letter of the law pertains only to the particular case before it. If a pattern of acquittals develops, however, in response to repeated attempts to prosecute a statutory offence, this can have the de facto effect of invalidating the statute. A pattern of jury nullification may indicate public opposition to an unwanted legislative enactment.

In the past, it was feared that a single judge or panel of government officials might be unduly influenced to follow established legal practice, even when that practice had drifted from its origins. In most modern Western legal systems, however, judges often instruct juries to act only as "finders of facts", whose role it is to determine the veracity of the evidence presented, the weight accorded to the evidence, to apply that evidence to the law as explained by the judge, and to reach a verdict; but not to question the law or decide what it says. Similarly, juries are routinely cautioned by courts and some attorneys not to allow sympathy for a party or other affected persons to compromise the fair and dispassionate evaluation of evidence. These instructions are criticized by advocates of jury nullification. Some commonly cited historical examples of jury nullification involve jurors refusing to convict persons accused of violating the Fugitive Slave Act by assisting runaway slaves or being fugitive slaves themselves, and refusal of American colonial juries to convict a defendant under English law


The concept is especially crucial when it comes to invalidating or "nullifying" unjust legislation. A good example of this is the jury who acquitted the Bundy's who were piled under Federal Charges for an act of protest against Government occupation of certain land. Or the juries who nullified unconstitutional prosecutions under the "Fugitive slave act" as another prime example

It is unfortunate most judges do not instruct the jury on this matter, but it forever remains a privilege held by petit and grand juries (a grand jury could decline to indict on specific charges or similarly find a defendant "not guilty" when the facts hold otherwise)


Since ATS consists of many fine men and women who are likely to serve on juries, the importance of sharing this knowledge cannot be overstated. It is truly a bulwark against government overreach, and from the examples you can see it is historically been used for that purpose.


edit on 8/20/2018 by JBurns because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 07:25 PM
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If I were on a jury I would always rule for the defendant unless there is a crime against person or property. Without damage to person or property there isn’t any victim.



posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 07:38 PM
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Seconded, I couldnt agree more


The idea of "society" or "the State" as a victim is absurd. It is a straw man argument used to obfuscate the fact there is no real, living/breathing victim



posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 07:42 PM
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originally posted by: Metallicus
If I were on a jury I would always rule for the defendant unless there is a crime against person or property. Without damage to person or property there isn’t any victim.


I have a sign that states that Trespassers will be shot, survivors shot again.

I am well within my rights to do so.

Trespassing does no damage to person or property....

To the OP, excellent point and something more people should know about.

S&F...



posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 08:36 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

Jury nullification actually happens quite often in my state and I would assume others. Very many laws are written in absurd language which allows prosecutors to charge people for actions that were never contemplated by the law. Also, there are certain popular ideas about laws that sometime rule in the jury room as opposed to the technical definition. For instance, self-defense. It's not uncommon for someone to be found not guilty on this theory even though they technically don't meet the requirements because most jurors would've behaved the same way. Also, where a police officer comes off as a jerk or a racist the jurors will often rule for the defendant even though he's likely guilty of the crime. I also think it happens a lot in drunk driving cases. I've had clients I thought for sure would be found guilty only to get an NG. My only rational for some of these verdicts is jury nullification.

Also, I don't think a judge would ever instruct on this right nor allow an attorney to argue for it.



posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 08:38 PM
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why are police officers enforcing unconstitutional laws that's always been a big question in my mind

I always found it weird that DAs choose not to enforce regular criminal laws against government employees/ officials as well, kinda weird huh?



posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 10:28 PM
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a reply to: toysforadults

I would say some fear losing their job or being ostracized by a certain faction or "click" within the dept

Unfortunately I feel that a lot do and it does happen a lot but goes unnoticed. It flies under the radar because it is written off as exercising discretion vs. outright looking the other way. In a way, every time a cop "gives someone a break" vs. making an arrest this happens, because in the officer's own discretion the individual technically broke the law but still does not deserve the punishment proscribed by the law

A certain number of people in any profession will always follow the rules, follow the letter of the law and leave no room for real life circumstances. Sadly that is exactly the type of justice system that has developed over the last ~100 or so years. It wasn't always that way, and a return to our Constitutional roots would see that system significantly overhauled


edit on 8/20/2018 by JBurns because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 20 2018 @ 10:35 PM
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a reply to: TobyFlenderson

It is heartening to see examples of this occurring throughout our communities


I seem to recall a woman who shot & killed her daughter's rapist in open court. Despite several attempts, grand jurors simply refused to indict her. The prosecution eventually gave up, figuring in the GJ's assessment, her crime was nullified by the circumstances despite the clear evidence of her technical guilt. I can't say I disagree with them, terrible as that may sound
edit on 8/20/2018 by JBurns because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 21 2018 @ 01:12 PM
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a reply to: Metallicus

Actually, that's philosophy, not real life (even though I subscribe to that philosophy myself).

There are things called "elements," and the judge, and even the prosecutors, instruct the jurors on said elements of the charges, which are specific things that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have occurred before the defendant can be found guilty.

Sticking to your guns concerning a not-guilty verdict because you may not think that there is an actual victim (like, say, unpaid parking tickets) is neat and all, but your job is to come to a verdict based on laws, not personally held philosophical beliefs.

Side note in addition to the OP--you can find someone guilty of breaking a law and prescribe them no punishment (unless there are mandatory sentences, which I am wholeheartedly against).



posted on Aug, 21 2018 @ 01:19 PM
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originally posted by: toysforadults
why are police officers enforcing unconstitutional laws that's always been a big question in my mind

I always found it weird that DAs choose not to enforce regular criminal laws against government employees/ officials as well, kinda weird huh?

First, I would challenge you to prove unconstitutionality of certain laws (that's rhetorical...I'm not looking to get into a long debate over individual state and local laws across the country). Local and state police forces are there to enforce local and state laws approved by the appropriate government entities and processes, not to determine whether said laws are constitutional.

Of course, there is always the discretion of the police officers, and the many that I speak with or the few who I call friends discuss countless times when they let people off on warnings or don't even interact with someone breaking trivial laws.

As far as DAs, there are plenty of times that they indict government employees (police and otherwise) on criminal misconduct--but, unfortunately, there are plenty of times that they don't, too, when it is warranted. I always bring up the time that I had to meet with a federal agent and multiple AUSAs in the Los Angeles office...the stories that they told me about government corruption (police, judges, attorneys, etc.) were disappointingly eye opening, even though I already "knew" about it. Still, getting verification in person was disappointing.



posted on Aug, 22 2018 @ 02:41 PM
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a reply to: Metallicus


In the decision Sparf v. U.S. 156US51, the principle of jury nullification was first attacked by the federal judiciary. In that decision the court ruled that no court had an obligation to inform a jury of its power and duty to nullify poor federal law.

The American Jury Institute is an organization that hafija.org... been promoting education of citizens regarding the power of jury nullification.
edit on 22-8-2018 by Salander because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 22 2018 @ 04:29 PM
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originally posted by: Salander
a reply to: Metallicus


In the decision Sparf v. U.S. 156US51, the principle of jury nullification was first attacked by the federal judiciary. In that decision the court ruled that no court had an obligation to inform a jury of its power and duty to nullify poor federal law.

The American Jury Institute is an organization that hafija.org... been promoting education of citizens regarding the power of jury nullification.


Great post! Much like the grand jury system they effectively abolished (turning our grand juries into the laughable "ham sandwich" farce they are today) it seems something terrible happened in our country during that period of time. The slippery slope argument, realized time and time again




posted on Aug, 23 2018 @ 12:45 PM
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a reply to: JBurns


The Roman Empire survived, what 800 years? The US experiment with self rule has made it only about 200.

Ben Franklin was right.

US juries have been tamed, chained and made subservient to the state.



posted on Aug, 24 2018 @ 12:30 PM
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a reply to: Salander


US juries have been tamed, chained and made subservient to the state.


Agreed
Damn them and their continually proven slippery slope

The legitimate Grand Jury system has been usurped for a system that gives exceptional insulation to government officials. Under the true Grand Jury system, public corruption of today would not stand. They would be indicted by the Grand Jury itself following its own self-directed investigation
edit on 8/24/2018 by JBurns because: (no reason given)




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