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Thread: Do you believe in the right of Jury Nullification?

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    Sparked by a thread on ARFCOM (yeah, how logical).

    Some debated they don't believe juries have the right, but IMO you must argue they do! If you believe in the "better judged by 12 than carried by 6 mantra" - how could you argue against the right to nullify laws from the jury box? A lot of states are backwards in their rights to defend yourself, the right to own firearms, ect. If you were on a jury in NYC and someone was on trial for using an "illegal gun" to protect themselves, could you convict even though the law is unjust and goes against the natural rights of the individual?

    For those who don't know what Jury Nullification is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

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    I consider the right to trial by jury on the same level as the right to vote. Both are the basis of system of government. The right to write in a cantidate is the equivalent to jury nullification. Without the possibility of jury nullification, and in my opinionjuries should be allowed more leeway in their verdicts, our system of government no longer is of and by the people. It is our last holdout against tyrany Those who argue against jury nullification would also argue for a dictatorship.



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    The jury has the final say. Cases are taken on a case-by-case (no pun intended) basis. The jury should have the right to make whatever decision they see fit. If all that matteredwas strict interpretation of the law with no consideration of circumstances we wouldn't have a jury of peers, we'd have a group of professional lawyers.

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    There are bad laws and there are bad judges and sometimes, there are bad juries. But jury nulification is considered the final and absolute check on the first two items in the prior list. Having sat on three juries, two criminal, they take their responsibility seriously.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    YES!

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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    There are bad laws and there are bad judges and sometimes, there are bad juries. But jury nulification is considered the final and absolute check on the first two items in the prior list. Having sat on three juries, two criminal, they take their responsibility seriously.
    I have been on, I think, 10 or 12 juries and agree completely that juries take their responsibility seriously. Make all the joke you want about people too dumb to getout of jury duty but I have have more faith in juries than any other part of our judicial system. Some people on juries really surprised me on their insight into what was going on.

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    Isupport jury nullification.

    Do a little research and you will find how far the state and federal governments have encroached all rights. Jury nullification is one--an important one.

    So are the negative changes that have happened to grand juries.

    If you were take the time you were going to spend on this sitein the coming week and devote it instead to researching the history and decline of 4th and 5th Amendment rights, it would be time well spent.

    If you are angry about infringements on 2A, just do the research I recommend. Infringements on 2A are just the tip of the iceberg.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Regular Member lprgcFrank's Avatar
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    I picked this up from the Volokh Consipracy today...
    I think that we need to be aware of this as one of the tools to protect our firearms rights.

    Personal observation - this is another example of how the framers of the constitution had a clear understanding and, like the second amendment, got corrupted over time and needs to get dusted off so people know their rights as jurors.

    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2...tml#1218815216.

    "There is little question that, at the Founding, jurors were triers of both the law and the facts. In essence, this provided a popular check on an overreaching legislature and a supine judiciary, although a check that would only operate on a case-by-case basis. A jury could find that a statute was unjust generally, or only as applied in the particular case. This would affect the general enforceability of a statute only if many juries agreed. Although juries retain the power to refuse to apply an unjust law, beginning in the Nineteenth Century, judges started prohibiting lawyers from advocating this to a jury upon pain of contempt. The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a non-profit organization aiming to inform all Americans about their rights, powers and responsibilities when serving as trial juror. "

    http://www.fija.org/

    from http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/...-the-ointment/
    "Like so many of America’s early leaders, John Adams was a strong proponent of jury nullification. Here’s Adams: “It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” C.F. Adams, “The Works of John Adams,” 253-255 (1856)"

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Judgment notwithstanding the verdict, also called judgment non obstante veredicto or JNOV) is a type of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that is ordered at the conclusion of a jury trial.

    J.N.O.V. is the practice in American courts whereby the presiding judge in a civil jury trial may overrule the decision of a jury and reverse or amend their verdict. In literal terms, the judge enters a verdict notwithstanding the jury findings. This intervention, often requested but rarely granted, permits the judge to exercise discretion to avoid extreme and unreasonable jury decisions.[1][/suP]

    One of our learned experts in every matter--his expertise being that he is always full of @#$%, states the "jury has the final say." His record of never being right is still unbroken. Don't assume the jury has the final word--especially should you file a civil action against the cops. They don't.

    That being said, I agree with Citizen and also strongly support JN. My reasons, at length, have been given inanother post.

    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Absolutely.

    A jury has two duties:

    1. Judge the law.
    2. Judge the defendant.
    The jury must first judge the law the defendent is accused of violating. If the jury decides the law is moral and constitutional, the jury can go to Step # 2. If the jury decides the law is immoral or unconstitutional, the jury does not advance to Step #2, and it must render an innocent verdict regardless of whether or not the defendant broke the law.

    The problem, of course, is a judge willnot tell a jury aboutStep #1 - he or she will only tell the jury about Step #2. If you are on a jury, you should always perform Step #1, regardless of what the judge says.

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    Gunslinger wrote:
    Judgment notwithstanding the verdict, also called judgment non obstante veredicto or JNOV) is a type of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that is ordered at the conclusion of a jury trial.
    Ughhhhh. This from the info linked under judgement as a matter of law:

    JMOL motions may also be made after the verdict is returned, where they are called "renewed" motions for judgment as a matter of law (RJMOL), but the motion is still commonly known by its former name, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or j.n.o.v. (from the Englishjudgment and the latin non obstante verdicto). However, in order to move for j.n.o.v., the movant must have moved for a JMOL before the verdict as well. This procedural quirk is necessary because it is considered a violation of the 7th amendment for a judge to overturn a jury verdict. Instead, the judge is said in a j.n.o.v. to be reexamining not the verdict, but his previous rejection of JMOL.

    I hope either the report is inaccurate, or it isn't used to undermine jury powers and privileges.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Jury nullification is one of the big advantages of trial by jury, IMO.

    In fact, I think every jury should be instructed that they cannot vote to convict if they feel the punishment exceeds the crime. The fact that most juries are instead carefully not given nullification instructions underlines the corruption of our modern "justice" system.

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    Man, not much of a difference of opinion here

    With unjust laws disarming people, I am glad to see the community "agrees" on an issue.

    But a lot more view points are being posted I am glad to read. Lysander Spooner had some great thoughts on this if you haven't read them.

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Citizen wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    Judgment notwithstanding the verdict, also called judgment non obstante veredicto or JNOV) is a type of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that is ordered at the conclusion of a jury trial.
    Ughhhhh. This from the info linked under judgement as a matter of law:

    JMOL motions may also be made after the verdict is returned, where they are called "renewed" motions for judgment as a matter of law (RJMOL), but the motion is still commonly known by its former name, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or j.n.o.v. (from the Englishjudgment and the latin non obstante verdicto). However, in order to move for j.n.o.v., the movant must have moved for a JMOL before the verdict as well. This procedural quirk is necessary because it is considered a violation of the 7th amendment for a judge to overturn a jury verdict. Instead, the judge is said in a j.n.o.v. to be reexamining not the verdict, but his previous rejection of JMOL.

    I hope either the report is inaccurate, or it isn't used to undermine jury powers and privileges.
    It's a fact of legal procedure and used more often than some believe. In any civil trial, if I was thinking we were going down, I'd motion for jnov as a matter of course. A renewal of the motion can be made after the verdict is given, should it be denied ante-verdict. Denial of the motion is standing for appeal, as well. If the judge feels that undue emotional consideration was given--the poor orphan against the heartless big corporation, when the orphan has no case but gets sympathy, he may grant the motion.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    Absolutely.

    A jury has two duties:

    1. Judge the law.
    2. Judge the defendant.
    The jury must first judge the law the defendent is accused of violating. If the jury decides the law is moral and constitutional, the jury can go to Step # 2. If the jury decides the law is immoral or unconstitutional, the jury does not advance to Step #2, and it must render an innocent verdict regardless of whether or not the defendant broke the law.

    The problem, of course, is a judge willnot tell a jury aboutStep #1 - he or she will only tell the jury about Step #2. If you are on a jury, you should always perform Step #1, regardless of what the judge says.
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions. That can lead to jnov. Should the jury do as you suggest, that is a very good definition of "jury nullification."
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Gunslinger wrote:
    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    Absolutely.

    A jury has two duties:

    1. Judge the law.
    2. Judge the defendant.
    The jury must first judge the law the defendent is accused of violating. If the jury decides the law is moral and constitutional, the jury can go to Step # 2. If the jury decides the law is immoral or unconstitutional, the jury does not advance to Step #2, and it must render an innocent verdict regardless of whether or not the defendant broke the law.

    The problem, of course, is a judge willnot tell a jury aboutStep #1 - he or she will only tell the jury about Step #2. If you are on a jury, you should always perform Step #1, regardless of what the judge says.
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions. That can lead to jnov. Should the jury do as you suggest, that is a very good definition of "jury nullification."
    Um, that is the whole idea behind jury nullification... to give the jury the authority to judge the law. I - and countless others - believe this is a good thing.

  17. #17
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    I have a very lay knowledge of the law, but IIRC from my reading, as a practical matter, it comes down to this:

    • if the jury says Not Guilty, it's over. Period.
    • if the jury says Guilty, it isn't necessarily over.
    • hung juries, mistrials and other procedural questions can cause the process to Start Again.

    IANAL (obviously), but comments/correction from attorneys are welcome.

    Personally, I would not hesitate to vote and argue for "not guilty" if I thought "guilty" would involve a miscarriage of justice (broadly defined) or violation of common sense in any particular case, regardless of the letter of the law. If that constitutes jury nullification, so be it.

    regards,

    GR

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    Regular Member lprgcFrank's Avatar
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    Gunslinger wrote:
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions.
    Gunslinger you are inaccurate.

    Jury's not only have the right to judge the law - they have an obligation to judge the law and the facts. Go and read the founders materials from the Constitution on Jury trials -

    “It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” C.F. Adams, “The Works of John Adams,” 253-255 (1856)"

    I could not find any precedents for a Judge overturning a Jury's not guilty verdict.

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    Gunslinger wrote:
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions. That can lead to jnov. Should the jury do as you suggest, that is a very good definition of "jury nullification."
    So, if you for whatever reason resided in DC and you were sitting on a case where a good, tax paying, upstanding citizen had a handgun and shot someone breaking in to their house - you would vote guilty against that person? You would say "the law says it is illegal" even though the law violates their civil liberties at the heart of it?

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    IMO, the jury hasboth thepower and the dutyto judge both the facts in a case, and the law pertaining to it. That does not mean that as a juror I would be inclined to ignore what the law actually says due to my own personal feelings about said law.



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    ilbob wrote:
    That does not mean that as a juror I would be inclined to ignore what the law actually says due to my own personal feelings about said law.
    actually, that is the entire reason that a jury trial exists. the jury. while no longer remionded of this fact by the judiciary, has the authority and the responsibility to judge the letter of teh law, AND the spirit of the law.

    while murder is illegal, I would never find a defendent guilty who murdered the man who raped his daughter, his wife, or his mother. Would any of you?

    That is Jury nullification at work.

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    Absolutely.

    A jury has two duties:

    1. Judge the law.
    2. Judge the defendant.
    The jury must first judge the law the defendent is accused of violating. If the jury decides the law is moral and constitutional, the jury can go to Step # 2. If the jury decides the law is immoral or unconstitutional, the jury does not advance to Step #2, and it must render an innocent verdict regardless of whether or not the defendant broke the law.

    The problem, of course, is a judge willnot tell a jury aboutStep #1 - he or she will only tell the jury about Step #2. If you are on a jury, you should always perform Step #1, regardless of what the judge says.
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions. That can lead to jnov. Should the jury do as you suggest, that is a very good definition of "jury nullification."
    Um, that is the whole idea behind jury nullification... to give the jury the authority to judge the law. I - and countless others - believe this is a good thing.
    I thought you were stating the de jure duty of a jury, not your definition of jn. Sorry if I mistook your intent.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    lprgcFrank wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions.
    Gunslinger you are inaccurate.

    Jury's not only have the right to judge the law - they have an obligation to judge the law and the facts. Go and read the founders materials from the Constitution on Jury trials -

    “It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” C.F. Adams, “The Works of John Adams,” 253-255 (1856)"

    I could not find any precedents for a Judge overturning a Jury's not guilty verdict.
    No I'm not. The judge determines and explains the law; the jury applies the facts in the case to that interpretation. The jury never, never has the authority to "judge" the law--that becomes jn. The law is fixed. The only exception is where the law is ambiguous to the point that the judge cannot adequately instruct the jury as to its meaning/intent.

    You're quoting philosophy; I'm talking legal procedures. And keep in mind, I'm talking civil court. No guilty or not guilty involved. Just a judgement for or against. In criminal court, a judge cannot overturn a verdict of ng; however, there is a thing called "directed verdict of ng" wherein he takes the jury out and acquits the defendant.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    hsmith wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    The jury's duty is solely to judge the facts in the case. The judge handles the law. If the law is unjust or idiotic, the jury in instructions is reminded that it is the law. They are only to judge the facts as to the defendent or respondent's comportment with respect to that law. If he violated it, their duty is to find him liable for doing so. Good or bad law, notwithstanding. What you advocate is a violation of the oath the jury takes and disobeys the instructions. That can lead to jnov. Should the jury do as you suggest, that is a very good definition of "jury nullification."
    So, if you for whatever reason resided in DC and you were sitting on a case where a good, tax paying, upstanding citizen had a handgun and shot someone breaking in to their house - you would vote guilty against that person? You would say "the law says it is illegal" even though the law violates their civil liberties at the heart of it?
    Ummm, I'm in favor of JN in just the type of case you mention and have said so clearly. I only am posting what the law says about it, not my personal feelings.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    This would require the jurists to possess common sense.

    Have you ever heard of a presiding judge over rule a jury's "guilty" verdict? There was something on the news here in the past few months of a judge doing just that. I can't remember what the criminal case was about, but the judge said that he over ruled the jury's guilty verdict because he didn't believe that there was sufficient evidence presented against the defendant. He claimed that HE had "reasonable doubt" of the defendants guilt and ordered a retrial. In a reporters enterview he stated that the prosecutions evidence showed that the defendant "might have done it" and "could have done it" butdid not, in his opinion, meat the critia of beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant "did do it". The jury heard the same evidence the judge heard in this case.

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