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JURY RIGHTS! JURY NULLIFICATION
By Curt Chancler - Jeanne Wollman
To often Americans forget they were guaranteed a republican form of government with democratic elections in order to protect our sovereignty as citizens. But even with this protection our elected representatives occasionally make laws that are not well received by the electorate.
Fortunately our forefathers anticipated that problem. They gave us a clear, basic, and forthright method of correcting unacceptable laws. It is jury nullification. Jury nullification allows the citizen to judge the law as it applies to the case.
A citizen’s last bastion of justice is a trial by a jury of his peers. The judiciary has eliminated, eradicated or simply ignored many rights but a jury still may judge both the law and the case before them. To accomplish this they must ignore a small portion of the “judges’ instructions to the jury,” and in so doing all jurors will know in their hearts they are doing the right thing. They will also live with a much cleaner conscience.
For whatever reason, the government is turning more frequently to the administrative courts to determine the law. These administrative courts negate most judicial safeguards. Most particularly, the right to appeal the hearings officer’s or tribunal’s decision and the right to a jury trial are not part of administrative law.
In the Oregon system judges would like you to think that only the Judge can dictate the law. However, the jury has the ultimate responsibility and duty to determine the case and the law. The decision of the jury cannot be re-examined by any Court of the United States. Is it any wonder that the legal system would like to eliminate, or at least control, juries?
Research has established that the intent of the Signer’s of our Constitution regarding juries was that they were to judge the law as well as the case. Oregon’s Article 1, Section 16 states that jury decisions must be made “under the direction of the Court as to law” but the jury will determine the “law as well as the facts.”
In Oregon, judges are not required to inform the jury of their rights and they do not. Lawyers are not allowed to bring up jury nullification and they do not. That does not make jury nullification any less legal or applicable in coming to a decision.
“Jury stacking” is a common tactic of Oregon judges and attorneys who select only those who promise to abide by the direction of the court as to the law. This would be much more difficult if those who appeared for jury duty knew their rights, and more importantly their duty, as jurists.
Uninformed juries, in fear of the consequences that the judge might mete out, cave in to the coercive actions of the presiding officer. This would be less likely to happen if the schools were teaching the rights and duties of the citizen jurist as part of their curriculum.
Schools could teach of leaders such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton who spoke out on the rights of the jury. Citizens should know that in 1972, Justice Byron White and Justice Thurgood Marshal spoke out on the duty of the juror to judge the law as well as the case before them. Also South Carolina in U.S. v. Gaudin (1995) ruled that juries are empowered to determine relevance and materiality.
U.S. vs. Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139, (1972) states "The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge..."
Citizens must understand that they are NOT obliged to set aside their conscience and their beliefs to follow the direction of a Court official. The fact that the Court chooses to ignore the rights and duties of the jury in no way obligates the jury to obey a judge who instructs them to perform against their conscience.
As far back as 1894 Alexander Hamilton admonished that “Jurors should acquit even against the judge’s instruction…if exercising their judgment with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong.” Today, knowledge of this statement is even more important as we see juries blindly obey agenda-driven judges.
As Justice Byron White in Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 US 145, 156 (1968) stated, “Providing an accused with the right to be tried by a jury of his peers gave him an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge.”
It is the duty and obligation of anyone called for jury duty to know his/her rights and to exercise them. When you come before a court for jury selection you may simply state, “Your Honor, I know it is my duty as well as my right to judge both the case and the law.”
In many states this will undoubtedly be cause for dismissal but you will have alerted others in the courtroom of their rights and duty. Hopefully, this would help curtail judges and the legal profession from controlling and directing the outcome of cases that are to be placed in the hands of a jury. It would also alert the lawmaking body of our government that they cannot continue to make laws that infringe on the rights of Americans.
We as citizens must remember that our forefathers gave us the ultimate veto power to use when the government fails us. The jury is our last protection against tyrannical law and an out of control government that only pays lip service to our rights and their oath of office. It is the duty of the jury to correct these mistakes.
The trial jury has more power than Congress, the President, or even the Supreme Court because they have the final veto power over all “acts of the legislature.”
It is also the responsibility of the juror to insist that his/hers vote be respected by all other members of the jury. The juror is not there to agree with the majority, but to act as a qualified judge to see that justice is done. Each juror must step forward to protect all innocent Americans from unjust laws.
It is strongly urged that every citizen log on to the many internet sites which describe and define jury rights and the rights of jury nullification. Remember, if you do not exercise your rights you will lose your rights!
© 2004 - Curt Chancler and Jeanne Wollman - All Rights Reserved
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Curt Chancler and Jeanne Wollman worked to bring together a citizen’s group in Jackson County, Oregon for the study and investigation of corruption in the local police department, judiciary and government. This organization has been extremely effective with court watch programs, a yearly informational booth at the county fair, and using public access television to expose government corruption.
To better let people know of the problems within the county both Chancler and Wollman obtained Rogue Valley Community Access TV Producer’s certificates from Southern Oregon University. They are now writing for the Grants Pass, Oregon US-Oregon Observer newspaper.
Mr. Chancler, originally from Texas, has been a businessman in southern Oregon for 35 years. He has been married 31 years, father of five children and grandfather of nine.
Ms. Wollman is a native Oregonian that has lived for many years in Alaska. She has been married for 41 years, has four children and ten grandchildren. She graduated from Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon with a B.A. in English/Teaching.
The juror is not there to agree
with the majority, but to act as a qualified judge to see that justice
is done. Each juror must step forward to protect all innocent Americans
from unjust laws.