By: Michael D. Jacobsen
Staff writer at Fighting the Tyranny
It is a term that terrifies lawyers. A word which some of them as well as judges deny exists. Yet exist it does, the term is jury nullification. It is a long-held and fundamental right of the American people; you will hear a few talks of it. If you are selected for jury duty, there is an excellent chance that the team of attornies will disqualify you if you speak of it. People have been arrested outside of courthouses because they were informing people of what it is. Why is jury nullification a threat to the system if the purpose of the system in the first place is justice? The fair and impartial justice that is represented by the Lady Liberty Statue standing with a blindfold on showing no partiality to a side, just a focus on the truth. In her hands are the scales to bring balance and a sword, on the other hand, to represent fair punishment.
So what is jury nullification, and why is it such a seldom heard term in our vocabulary? Jury nullification is the acquitting of a defendant by a jury in disregard of the judge’s instructions and contrary to the jury’s findings of fact. In other words, if the jury feels the law itself is wrong, they can render a verdict of not guilty because they think the law itself is illegal. This is one of the greatest weapons we the people have against unjust laws.
There have been some famous examples of jury nullification, such as in the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who assisted terminally ill patients in ending their lives. He was charged with murder, and while the doctor admitted to helping end the patient’s life, he was acquitted by a Michigan jury. Another example is the person known as the New Jersey Weedman Ed Forchion. He was arrested for using marijuana to ease the pain of having bone cancer. While medical marijuana is illegal in New Jersey, Mr. Forchion acted as his own attorney and informed the jurors about jury nullification, which led to the jury nullifying his case.
Sadly too many people are still not aware of this right that jurors have. This is partly due to ignorance but also has to do with the prosecution against people who attempt to inform potential jurors. There is also the belief in certain legal circles that jury nullification instructions encourage the jury to violate the law. In fact, judges have told jurors they would break the law for considering nullification. This is, of course, is nonsense, but the idea of nullification scares people so much that lying to jurors seems to be a better idea than the truth.
Another argument against nullification is that jurors will get into trouble if they do not follow a judge’s instructions to the letter. In other words, if specific evidence was introduced that a judge claims can only be looked at in a certain way, jurors are free to interpret evidence as they understand it. In most cases, this may cause them to lean towards a decision to nullify. Jurors have also been intimidated with threats of charges if they consider using nullification.
The fact is the legal system is terrified of jury nullification. There has been an ongoing program to make sure people do not know about it and to try and remove the idea from our laws. The main reason is that nullification eliminates the notion that courts of law are all-powerful. This is why people are arrested outside of courthouses for handing out this information.
Jury nullification really is the natural authority of the people against the unjust laws of the State. The knowledge of it needs to be spread to everyone and in a factual way. We, as citizens, need to not only be more informed but do things such as show up for jury duty with this knowledge. If the State wakes up to the idea that we the people know how to stop their unjust laws, then there is a good chance they will stop creating them. This is a vital step in reclaiming our liberty.
America’s incarceration system is a prison-for-profit investment among the elite to pad their portfolios. It is with control of the existing laws as well as the authority to create new ones that their investments become massive profits. The result in society is that America now houses more people than all the other countries’ incarceration rates. The Land of the free houses more people than the rest of the world, per capita. Another critical point in understanding jury nullification’s impact is that it can help keep people out of the system for victimless crimes.
The imprisonment of people for victimless crimes is an epidemic in America today. Thanks mainly to the failed policies of the War on Drugs, we are taking the liberties and freedoms of people who have committed no crime against another individual. In the same way that the prohibition on alcohol caused many to be locked away for personal lifestyle choices, so has the War on Drugs. This time it is coupled with the prison-for-profit system leading back to the real reason the legal system doesn’t want anyone to understand the enumerated powers that jury nullification offers.
One of the most significant issues we have is the corruption permeating from Washington. It is becoming quite clear that the law of the land applies to us as they slip through the chains of justice and accountability. Often times, coming out of the scandal or mishap as the victim, not the law-breaker. Why are we seeing so many of us locked away for victimless crimes while we see top officials who commit high crimes escape justice? With jury nullification, we can deliver a loud, collective, and united voice that we are tired of the double standard of the application of the law.
The next time you get that jury summons, do not get frustrated and look for reasons to get out of serving on the jury. Your educated voice could be the difference in loss of freedoms for someone or telling the system that we do not comply with your victimless-for-revenue scheme. Speak up and tell others about jury nullification and the process. This is your direct voice to those in power that does more to the injustice of the judicial system than any other form of protest. If there isn’t a victim, there can’t be a crime.
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