Liberty Activist Blog

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Reader's LTE on jury rights

Dear Mary Lou Seymour,

I sent the following letter-to-the-editor [to my local paper]

"Allow me to start this letter with the following quotes from some of our Founding Fathers concerning the Duties of Jurors?

Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction... if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty
they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong. -- Alexander Hamilton, 1804

It is not only the juror's right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court. --John Adams, 1771

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1789

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their choice, if the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they... undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow
-- James Madison

Couple these with the following quotes from early Justices:

"The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy." John Jay, 1st Chief Justice United States supreme Court, 1789

"The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts." Samuel Chase, U.S. supreme Court Justice, 1796, Signer of the unanimous Declaration

"the jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact. "Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. supreme Court Justice, 1902

"The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided." Harlan F. Stone, 12th Chief Justice U.S. supreme Court, 1941

"The pages of history shine on instance of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge...” U.S. vs Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 113, 1139, (1972)

Now, I ask why is the RIGHT of “Jury Nullification” not currently presented to prospective Jurors? What is it that our current judges are afraid of? Could it be the true power of “We the People” that they fear
or is it the loss of their perceived power that puts this fear into them?

I challenge all judges to answer these questions for themselves and for me as one of 'We the People'. “We the People” need to know and I welcome any responses at my e-mail, or in the pages of
this newspaper!"

Good Luck,
Jim Owen


Excellent LTE, Jim! Great selection of quotes!
Mary lou


Post a Comment

<< Home