Nullification - Key to the Jury BoxSubmitted by Lawmanjed on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 01:59
It is has been said that there are four safeguards against tyranny in a constitutional republic:
1) The soap box;
2) The ballot box;
3) The jury box; and
4) The ammo box.
When tyrannical or unconstitutional laws are passed that threaten our liberties, we have the "soap box", ie. the freedom to speak out, criticize and call for change; when such change or reforms fail to emerge, we have the "ballot box", or elections, to effectuate such change; and when elections fail to remove corrupt politicians, replace then with officials who respect the people and the constitution, or prevent tyrannical laws from being passed or repealed, we have the "jury box", ie. the power of the jury to prevent people who are arrested and prosecuted for violating tyrannical laws from being convicted and punished by the overwhelming power of the state. It is only after all such boxes fail us, that we have need to resort to the final safeguard of our liberties, the "ammo box", ie. force of arms. The jury box is essential to our liberties, as it stands as a final safeguard of our liberties before resort to arms.
The power of the jury to judge both the law and the facts of a case, and in effect "nullify" the instructions of the judge as to the law, or even the entirety of the law itself, is an awesome power that ultimately allows the jurors to be the ultimate "judge" of the fairness of the law, including its constitutionality. This power to pass judgment on the law itself is an exercise in sovereign power by each individual juror who in effect has the final say as to its validity and can check the mighty power of the state and stop it in its tracks. The power and duty to judge both the law and the facts of the case was well entrenched in the early history of this nation and the rulings of the Supreme Court and other commentators and authorities. In recent years it has been distained as a "right" by most Courts and by the bulk of the legal profession, who tend to believe that they, the legal experts, should be the sole judge of "the law" and its interpretation, leaving the jury to judge only "the facts" of the case.
Almost all sources grudgingly admit that the jury has the "power", if not the right, to ignore the instructions of the judge as to the law or even to ignore the law itself if it feels necessary to see that justice prevails. This is largely true because it has been well established in this nation that no judge can ever direct a guilty verdict in a criminal trial and that upon a finding of not guilty by a jury there can be no re-trial, since that would result in "double jeopardy" to the defendant, as prevented by the 5th and 14th Amendments. However, in the federal Courts and in almost all state Courts, jurors are prevented by law from being informed of this power to judge the law and in effect to ignore or "nullify" the Court's instructions as to the law, and judges and defense counsel are prohibited from informing jurors of this power or right, leaving them ignorant of this very essential power and duty and check upon the power of the state.
In order to rectify this situation, and boldly and clearly announce the power, duty and authority of the jury system to act as a final check on the abuses of an overbearing or tyrannical government, I propose the following amendment to the US Constitution:
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO US CONSTITUTION:
"In all criminal trials before a jury in any State or United States Court, the Court shall inform the jurors as to the range of penalties and punishments provided for in the statute, that such jurors have the duty to judge both the law and the facts of the case, including their right to reject or nullify the law or the instructions of the Court, in whole or in part, and that no verdict of guilty shall ever be directed nor any verdict of not guilty ever questioned or set aside by the Court."
As events unfold in the coming months and years, it is not unlikely that the power of jurors to review and judge the law will be further limited, if not eliminated, by statutes or Court rulings that will prevent them from exercising their role as an effective check on abusive or tyrannical government. It is my personal opinion that this power of jurors is crucial to preventing such abuse and tyranny from gaining a foothold and spreading rapidly throughout this nation. What say you, fellow DailyPaulers?