Just today I was re-reading a passage in my book The Origins of the Fifth Amendment: The Right Against Self-incrimination by Leonard Levy (The book won the Pulitzer Prize in History). Levy relates the history of a fella name John Lilburne in 1600's England.
What does the right against self-incrimination have to do with the power of a jury to judge the law as well as the facts? No much. The relationship is less between the two rights than the guy who put the capstone on the right against self-incrimination. But, this post is about the jury power to judge the law as well as the facts. (Is the law fair? Is it being correctly applied? Did the king (or Congress) just invent it to protect power or cater to lobbyists?)
Lilburne was a massive thorn in Oliver Cromwell's side. Lilburne argued up one side and down the other in favor of English liberties. Upon discovering Cromwell was just as bad as the former king, Lilburne targeted Cromwell and his Parliament, skewering them and their policies with pamphlets printed by secret presses.
In his last of at least three trials for vocal opposition to Parliament and Cromwell--in support of ancient English liberties--Lilburne asked his jury to judge the law as well as the facts. Despite the entire country knowing he was guilty, the jury found Lilburne not guilty. The jury judged the law contrary to justice, and decide he wasn't guilty. By about 1670 the right of the jury to judge the law as well as the facts was enshrined in English law.
So, what is the connection between Lilburne, the right of the jury to judge law, and the right against self-incrimination? Nothing. It is just that Lilburne argued both. And, won on both! Shortly after Lilburne another case came up. The court expressly said a fellow cannot be forced to incriminate himself. That is why Lilburne provided the capstone on the right against self-incrimination--it was his trials and his arguments that finally shut up the government. But, at that last trial he also invited the jury to weigh the law as well as the facts. Lilburne did both.
I remember years ago a poster--a very infrequent poster--accusing me of undermining law for advocating the right of a jury to judge the rightness of the law as well as the facts. He asserted I supported the complete deteriotion of society and the undermining of the rule of law. I was a bit slow. I didn't have a good come back. Today is a little different. "Oh, you insist the jury use the law to judge a defendant? Well, guess what buster, the right of the jury to judge the law as well as the fact is part of the law."1
1. See the trial of William Penn and William Mead, two Quakers in Anglican England tried for preaching Quakerism about 1670. Their jury refused to convict them despite their being obviously guilty of breaking (an unjust) law. The judges imprisoned the jury! One juror, Bushell, appealed his imprisonment (Bushell's case). The higher court ruled the jury could not be punished for its judgement. That is the case that finalized the right of the jury to judge the law as well as the facts. Do look it up. It is too important not to read it.