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Truth Supressed: Juries' right to acquit even if law broken

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posted on Dec, 7 2007 @ 05:58 PM
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"Secrets and Lies" by David Southwell has revealed some interesting things to me. His entries are brief on each topic, but reading through the book I have stumbled upon another topic I've never heard of before.

"Jury nullification" exists in American and English law. In 1969 the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled: "If a jury feels a law unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if the verdict is contrary to the law given by the judge and contrary to the evidence."


In the case of O'Connell v. Rex Lord Denham stated: "Every jury in the land is tampered with and falsely instructed by the judge when it is told that it must accept the law that which has been given to them, or that they can decide only the facts in the case," in contradiction of most judges instructions to juries on how to proceed with making a case judgement.


Jury nullification was used in the American Colonies to free those who spoke ill of the British king. In recent times it has been used when juries have refused to convict anti-war protesters and medical marijuana users.

The author states that "members of the American Fully Informed Jury Association have been prosecuted for handing out literature" on the subject.

The motiviation for supression of truth is self-evident in this case considering that it amounts to the possiblity of a law itself being put on trial.



[edit on 12/7/0707 by jackinthebox]

[edit on 12/7/0707 by jackinthebox]




posted on Dec, 7 2007 @ 07:27 PM
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I wonder if this could be used as grounds to ask for a new trial. I can't remember a specific headline case, but I can vaquely remember times when the jury reached a verdict that they didn't want to reach based on circumstances beyond the facts of law.

In my own experience, a close friend of mine in high-school was charged with manslaughter after a car accident. My buddy was driving, and mutual friend was killed in the car. It was a horrible scene. The mother of the deceased and the mother of the driver had been best friends since high-school and worked together at a hospital ever since. The family of the victim were outraged that the D.A. chose to prosecute.



posted on Dec, 7 2007 @ 09:09 PM
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I have done jury duty in England, about 5 years ago now, and we were told, very clearly, that we were allowed to make our decision based on anything we wanted. This was part of the standard induction speech given to all new jurors, I remember it well, because until that point I didn't know that.

I don't know if we just had a good system where we are, but I would assume that it is the same across the whole of England, after all, there is a slim chance a defendant could call a mistrial.

I don't know if Scotland would follow this or not, their legal system is different in some areas.

EDIT to add:

Something that is of interest is that not all cases here are tried by jury, some are tried by a panel of magistrates. One example of a type of case that will be tried by magistrate is low quantity drugs possession. Something like that strikes me as just the kind of thing that a jury on a 'bad' day might decide they want to rebel on. I don't think many people will take the risk of demanding a jury trial in a case like that though, because from what I understand penalties in the crown court (which uses the jury system) tend to be more severe.

[edit on 7-12-2007 by bobafett]



posted on Dec, 7 2007 @ 10:06 PM
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(Reply key not working!?!)

Reply to bobafett:

I've never done jury duty myself, but have sat in local courts on more than enough ocassions, I watch the news, and have had a few friends with serious legal problems. It seems that this is really something that the courts don't want juries to know about here in the States. I am no expert, but I really think there would be a lot fewer people in prison if this was known to juries and even the general public. The US makes a lot of money off the legal system though. It's a huge industry.

In regard to your edit, we have the same thing here in the States. Usually used for low-level crimes, but was recently used in a much more serious case.

The younger brother of a person I went to school with was at a party where everyone was drinking and smoking weed. The kid that threw the party kept a loaded shotgun in his closet. I'm not sure who actually pulled it out of the closet, but the brother of my former classmate accidentally shot and killed the guy who threw the party. He also briefly fled from police. For whatever reason, the defendant elected to waive his right to jury-trial and threw himself on the mercy of the court. I think he got 5 years.



posted on Dec, 7 2007 @ 10:09 PM
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Just so it is clear, the conspiratorial nature of this topic is the deliberate obfuscation of the rights of a jury. Particularly when people are arrested for trying to inform juries of the right to acquit irregardless of evidence provided.



posted on Dec, 8 2007 @ 07:30 AM
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It would be really interesting to me to get some comments on this from other people who have done jury duty in places like England and the USA, where this 'jury nullification' exists, to see if they were also told about it.



posted on Dec, 8 2007 @ 10:36 AM
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(Reply key not working:flame


Reply to Bobafett:

I would certainly like to hear from some more people who have actually done jury duty. I would also like to hear from anyone who knows of a case where this practice "woullda/coullda/shouldda" been applied.

Furthermore, juries also pass sentence in many cases. I wonder if they can actually impose whatever sentence they feel is just, regardless of a finding of guilt?

Any lawyers in the house?



posted on Dec, 8 2007 @ 10:37 AM
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(Reply key not working:flame


Reply to Bobafett:

I would certainly like to hear from some more people who have actually done jury duty. I would also like to hear from anyone who knows of a case where this practice "woullda/coullda/shouldda" been applied.

Furthermore, juries also pass sentence in many cases. I wonder if they can actually impose whatever sentence they feel is just, regardless of a finding of guilt?

Any lawyers in the house?



posted on Dec, 8 2007 @ 12:23 PM
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reply to post by bobafett
 


bobafett It would be really interesting to me to get some comments on this from other people who have done jury duty in places like England and the USA, where this 'jury nullification' exists, to see if they were also told about it.


I worked in the court system as a clerk for 17 years. I have never sat on a jury but I have typed many sets of “Jury Instructions” for various trials both criminal and civil. Here are some of my observations.

First, there are 3 standards of proof required for one side to prevail in any case. The lowest level is called “clear and convincing.” It is almost exclusively employed where the judge is trying a case without a jury. It is self-explanatory. In writing his opinion, the trial judge should recite what facts he found ‘clear and convincing’ in the event of an appeal to a higher court.

Jury trials. American jurisprudence is usually founded on the Magna Carta of 1215. Aside: The reigning Pope exonerated King John from all obligations he had granted in the ‘Great Charter.’ This act of preemption dates the struggle between the English Crown and the Roman Papacy which culminated in 1537 with the disestablishment of the Roman Church by King Henry VIII. Note. Pope Innocent III in 1216, absolved King John of his sworn promises found in the Magna Carta. It was several years before the English were able to re-impose the Magna Carta on King John. www.britannia.com...
en.wikipedia.org...

To charge a crime against a person of noble birth, the Magna Carta required agreement of 16 members of a grand (large) jury of 24 peers of the realm. The Magna Carta provided for a trial on the issue of guilt by a petit (or small) jury of 12 members. (The French “Petit” is usually pronounced “petty” over here).

Although I am not on as firm ground as I would like, I believe 13th century trials were not held in dedicated courtrooms attended by regular staff as we are now familiar with. Rather, I believe the accused was set free or acquitted, when (and IF) he obtained the sworn statements of 12 peers in the vicinage that he was innocent of the crime charged. Failing that, he would be presumed guilty. Note: Almost everyone then believed that swearing a false oath was a mortal sin and would result in damnation of their soul. I don’t think anyone believes that today. (The word for “juror” could also mean “swearer”).

Civil trials. The standard of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This is best expressed by noting that a vote of 9 of the 12 jurors are required for a verdict. A preponderance is not overwhelming proof.

Criminal trials. Here we find the highest standard of proof. “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” Not “beyond” doubt, but beyond a “reasonable” doubt. American courts have spent the last 200 years dancing around the question: what is meant by “beyond a reasonable doubt?” To this day, it is grounds for a mis-trial for any judge or any litigant to offer a definition to the jury. This is one reason why it is desirable for jurors to be fully “Americanized” in order for them to better underact the meaning inherent in “beyond a reasonable doubt” all the more considering that most of the countries from which today’s Americans have come do not use the trial by jury system.

Summary. The judiciary or court or the judge determines and lays down the LAW of the case. Jurors are obliged to follow the judges instructions even if they believe the instructions to be wrong. That decision of applicable law remains in the court system, but it is subject to review by appellate courts.

But in one (or 2) areas jurors are supreme! Jurors are the sole and exclusive trier of FACTS. The Constitution provides that even appeals courts cannot set aside the finding of FACT(S) as determined by the petit (trial) jury. Concomitantly, the trial jury also determines the credibility of witnesses and the appropriate weight to be given to their testimony (which in essence is also a factual determination).

[edit on 12/8/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Dec, 8 2007 @ 07:28 PM
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Great thread Jack. It should be obvious that the only reason for there being a trial by jury is to empower the people to find the law, or a prosecution invalid in any given case. This is a hedge against both unjust law, and politically motivated prosecutions. It certainly does seem that in the USA, the judiciary is determined to keep this knowledge from juries. I hope that everyone will check out the FIJA.

www.fija.org...



posted on Dec, 8 2007 @ 09:09 PM
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Thanks for the link "resistor" and thanks for your interest. I hope more people spot this thread. Everyone is always asking, "well, what can I do?" Some people are just using that phrase as a cop-out perhaps, but I think there are a lot more people who are just so fed up with what's happening to this country that they think it's a lost cause. "Go out and vote," is usually the answer I get when I ask what to do, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that even voting has become useless. The elections are rigged anyway. This has some real meat to it. Instead of trying to get out of jury duty, people should be trying to get on the jury, and tossing every case they can (with the exception of the most henious crimes of course.)



...jurors who have been both told and sworn by the judge to "follow the law as given", and told they "should" (sometimes even "must") find you guilty if the evidence supports a conviction.


This quote taken from an inside page of fija.org. Click here to view page.


[edit on 12/8/0707 by jackinthebox]



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 05:04 AM
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Originally posted by jackinthebox

..snip..

Furthermore, juries also pass sentence in many cases. I wonder if they can actually impose whatever sentence they feel is just, regardless of a finding of guilt?

..snip..



Wow, that's pretty interesting, I have never heard about that before. I'm no expert on the system in England, but I don't think the Jury here ever get to set the sentence. I think in most cases they don't even know beforehand what the sentence will be if they find the defendant guilty, although I think most people will know roughly the sentences given for various offences. I never actually got to sit on a case (there where probably about 50-80 people on duty, only some of those actually got onto cases) so I never saw this part of the system, but I'm sure I would have heard about this if it was the case in England.



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 11:39 AM
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I've served on jury duty twice. The first time was for a criminal case, the second time on a civil case that was resolved, oddly enough, because the weather was getting bad and the lawyers and plaintiff all lived out of state.

At any rate, when I was on the criminal trial I remember the judge instructing that if we felt the defendant was guilty we had NO CHOICE but to find him guilty. I remember this so clearly because I knew that wasn't the case, a few months prior somebody had informed me about "jury nullification" (this is the first time I've heard the specific term for this action.)

We ended up finding the man innocent anyways, because they were trying to convict the passenger of a vehicle with a DUI... (duh?!)

I didn't realize, however, that this was a problem outside of our area. Our courts and law enforcement in the county I live in are pretty corrupt. The judge in this particular case is known by a lot of people to be a coc aine addict, and rumor has it he's a dealer too. But that's a whole different story.



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 01:10 PM
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posted by bobafet]

posted by jackinthebox

Furthermore, juries also pass sentence in many cases. I wonder if they can actually impose whatever sentence they feel is just, regardless of a finding of guilt . .
I have never heard about that before. I never actually got to sit on a case (there where probably about 50-80 people on duty, only some of those actually got onto cases) so I never saw this part of the system, but I'm sure I would have heard about this if it was the case in England.


I don’t like the AFIJ website or the group. It seems to be hand in hand with the PRO NRA anti gun control law types; the FLAT tax types; and the Reagan-ite de minimus government types.

“Nullification” is not a recognized legal term. It is best defined as meaning a jury that disregards the evidence to reach a verdict to its own liking. The next best thing is a “hung jury” meaning one that cannot reach a verdict. In that case, perfectly legal, the court may order a new trial or re-trial.

Because of the double jeopardy clause in the Constitution, a nullifying jury cancels that passivity which is a threat to the orderly administration of justice. The AJIF seeks to achieve this anti-civility object. A position popular with the current Libertarian Party movement in the US.

By the middle of the 20th century, most American states had taken sentencing out of the judges hands and put the sentencing of convicted persons into the hands of the jury. Untrained, uninformed and ill-equipped to make such decisions I whole heartily oppose jury sentencing. One more step in dumbing down America.

[edit on 12/9/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 03:47 PM
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Jury Nullification is a really important topic in the justice system. Most people don't know about it though... Thanks for posting this thread!

Our justice system sucks!



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 03:59 PM
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reply to post by jackinthebox
 



I wonder if this could be used as grounds to ask for a new trial. I can't remember a specific headline case, but I can vaquely remember times when the jury reached a verdict that they didn't want to reach based on circumstances beyond the facts of law.


Interesting. I just posted on another thread about a case where someone got off on a life sentence, justifiably so, because the judge instructed the jury not to consider state laws in a federal case. As I understood it, a juror called an attorney, which it was reported she wasn't supposed to do, to ask about the judge's instructions. That act nullified the guilty ruling. Now that you put it this way, I wonder if the issue was the judge's instructions in the first place. Here's more info on the case:

www.abovepolitics.com...

[edit on 9-12-2007 by lifestudent]



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 04:10 PM
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Originally posted by donwhite
I don’t like the AFIJ website or the group. It seems to be hand in hand with the PRO NRA anti gun control law types; the FLAT tax types; and the Reagan-ite de minimus government types.

“Nullification” is not a recognized legal term. It is best defined as meaning a jury that disregards the evidence to reach a verdict to its own liking. The next best thing is a “hung jury” meaning one that cannot reach a verdict. In that case, perfectly legal, the court may order a new trial or re-trial.

Because of the double jeopardy clause in the Constitution, a nullifying jury cancels that passivity which is a threat to the orderly administration of justice. The AJIF seeks to achieve this anti-civility object. A position popular with the current Libertarian Party movement in the US.

By the middle of the 20th century, most American states had taken sentencing out of the judges hands and put the sentencing of convicted persons into the hands of the jury. Untrained, uninformed and ill-equipped to make such decisions I whole heartily oppose jury sentencing. One more step in dumbing down America.

[edit on 12/9/2007 by donwhite]


I don't think I can respond objectively since I am a wholehearted libertarian but I do not trust one judge to lay down the law, having spent some time as a criminal justice major. Learning and seeing what some judges have decided to do, in my eyes, is worse than a jury agreeing on a sentencing. Jury sentencing makes more sense. Furthermore it puts responsibility on the public to understand the system a bit more. They have to know or else they will be too ill prepared to make any decision.

I think overall more good will come of it than bad. I say so only because the judges I have seen, for the most part, have been unfair in their decisions.

As far as double jepordy goes, if a jury decides he is not guilty, then he is not guilty. Reason behind it is left to the jury. Just because you do not like the decision they made or the reasons behind it is not basis for a retrial.



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 06:08 PM
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Originally posted by donwhite

“Nullification” is not a recognized legal term. It is best defined as meaning a jury that disregards the evidence to reach a verdict to its own liking.


Legal terminiology is not being questioned here, but the legalty of the practice. Your definition is exactly correct however.


Because of the double jeopardy clause in the Constitution, a nullifying jury cancels that passivity which is a threat to the orderly administration of justice. The AJIF seeks to achieve this anti-civility object. A position popular with the current Libertarian Party movement in the US.


"...orderly administration of justice" huh? Sounds pretty totalitarian of you ask me. Wasn't it Darth Vader who "brought order" to his new empire? Perhaps a New World Order is in order. The question is not about politics at this point, or if the practice should be legal. The fact is that this practice is and currently within the rights of a jury to exercise if they see fit. If any judge has issued instructions to the contrary, that is illegal and those cases must then be re-tried. Furthermore, a climate of disinformation and the undermining of the single most critical element in the court system of a free society is clear subversion of freedom entirely.


By the middle of the 20th century, most American states had taken sentencing out of the judges hands and put the sentencing of convicted persons into the hands of the jury. Untrained, uninformed and ill-equipped to make such decisions I whole heartily oppose jury sentencing. One more step in dumbing down America.


Such an expression of ill-confidence in the jury system leads me to believe that you would be rid of the entire trial-by-jury system. Would your own opinion be "untrained, uninformed, and ill-equipped" to make decisions in a case brought before a court?



[edit on 12/9/0707 by jackinthebox]



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 08:14 PM
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posted by jackinthebox

posted by DonjWhite
Because of the double jeopardy clause in the Constitution, a nullifying jury cancels that **possibility** which is a threat to the orderly administration of justice.


"...orderly administration of justice" huh? The question is not about politics at this point, or if the practice should be legal. The fact is that this practice is and currently within the rights of a jury to exercise if they see fit.


Au contraire. Nullification is not legal. It’s “extra-legal.” Which means beyond the law. Or above the law. Judges avoid the issue because it is hoped it will not occur but if it is mentioned then it might really happen. We have denigrated the OJ Simpson jury by accusing them of nullification. That case was poorly presented and it is entirely possible the jury took their charge - beyond a reasonable doubt - seriously.

Another example of juror mis-conduct more often found in civil juries is the so-called “compromise” verdict. Each juror writes the award amount he prefers, they add the 12 amounts and divide by 12, thus reaching a “compromise” verdict. Unless there are well founded allegations of corruption jurors cannot be questioned how they reached their individual decision.

I say again jury nullification is akin to state’s interposition. It bodes ill for the American judicial system. Jurors, like the rest of us, have a certain job to do and a correct way to do it; they are equally obliged to follow the law.


Such an expression of ill-confidence in the jury system leads me to believe that you would be rid of the entire trial-by-jury system.


In criminal cases, I would. To my best knowledge, all Western European continental countries follow the Napoleonic Code in which criminal trials are entirely a function of judges who act as quasi-prosecutors as well. On sentencing, most offenses have a range of penalties. It takes a great deal of knowledge, training and a lot of experience to assess the case and the defendant and then to apply the correct punishment to fit the crime, so to speak.

[edit on 12/9/2007 by donwhite]



posted on Dec, 9 2007 @ 09:01 PM
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Originally posted by donwhite

Judges avoid the issue because it is hoped it will not occur but if it is mentioned then it might really happen. We have denigrated the OJ Simpson jury by accusing them of nullification. That case was poorly presented and it is entirely possible the jury took their charge - beyond a reasonable doubt - seriously.


It is not the place of any judge to "avoid" telling a jury anything about the duty which they are expected to carry out. In fact, a judge must be very clear in the articulation of jury instructions. Such failing have led to mistrials, retrials, granting of appeals, and outright case dismissals. Furthermore, deliberately mis-informing a jury is a crime. What do they do to a witness who lies to a jury?

As far as reasonable doubt goes, this is another example of what is expected of a judge. He can make no instructions as to what constitutes reasonable-doubt. Furthermore, the O.J. jury found him not-guilty. Nullification has nothing to do with reasonable doubt.


Another example of juror mis-conduct more often found in civil juries is the so-called “compromise” verdict. Each juror writes the award amount he prefers, they add the 12 amounts and divide by 12, thus reaching a “compromise” verdict. Unless there are well founded allegations of corruption jurors cannot be questioned how they reached their individual decision.


Jury mis-conduct is a crime. Can you provide proof that "compromise verdict" is in fact jury mis-conduct, or is this your own personal opinion? Furthermore, questioning a jury as to how they reached their verdict is a very different thing than informing a jury of how they may reach their verdict. If a jury is not informed of relevant facts, the case is no longer valid.


I say again jury nullification is akin to state’s interposition. It bodes ill for the American judicial system. Jurors, like the rest of us, have a certain job to do and a correct way to do it; they are equally obliged to follow the law.


Yes, and the correct way to do it is by being fully informed of their duty as citizens to perform their duty as jurors with all of the facts regarding their obligation. A jury who acquits because of, what we are calling, "nullification" is acting within the boundaries of law in regard to the rights of the citizenry as a whole and their duty as citizen-jurors. What bodes ill of the American judicial system is the deliberate obfuscation by that system, as to the rights of the people.


To my best knowledge, all Western European continental countries follow the Napoleonic Code in which criminal trials are entirely a function of judges who act as quasi-prosecutors as well. On sentencing, most offenses have a range of penalties. It takes a great deal of knowledge, training and a lot of experience to assess the case and the defendant and then to apply the correct punishment to fit the crime, so to speak.


We are Americans not continental Europeans. The trial-by-jury system is inherent to being an American citizen. One of the core reasons that the jury system in America exists, is so that cases cannot be decided arbitrarily, particularly based on political factors. Furthermore, it seems that the British do not carry out this campaign of "dumbing-down" juries in regards to nullification. Have we gone full-circle since 1776? Is the British system now the one that is more honorable and less flawed?



[edit on 12/9/0707 by jackinthebox]




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