Well, I’m Off to the Local Courthouse: AND I SUPPORT THE FULLY INFORMED JURY PROCESS!
Bill Quick

I’m off, to sit around and see if I get called up for jury duty.

I get summoned every year, because I vote.

They never actually take me.  All lawyers Google potential jurors, and given my loud and obstreporous presence on the Web, one side or another always exercises either a peremptory or for-cause challenge and sends me home, after whatever amount of time I’ve wasted awaiting the inevitable outcome.

Just to make sure, though:  I SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF JURORS TO JUDGE THE LAW AS WELL AS THE CRIME!

 

Posted in Law permalink
Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

Well, I’m Off to the Local Courthouse: AND I SUPPORT THE FULLY INFORMED JURY PROCESS! — 17 Comments

  1. my loud and obstreperous presence on the Web

    That might actually be understating it a bit.

    I’ve been called up as a potential juror twice now. Not once have they ever used me.

  2. The last time I was called (2005), I informed the judge and prosecutor I believed in jury nullification, and was immediately dismissed. I haven’t heard anything since.

  3. Well, I’m now sitting in the Jury Assembly room. Not many people here yet. I think they give us info forms to fill out. I’m going to try putting something about jury nullification on that form, if I can find a likely spot. Maybe I can get my butt tossed by the judge, before we even start the individual examinations.

    And they should toss me, because I do believe in a constitutional right to nullify due to a judgment on the law itself.

  4. I mentioned Jury Nullification at court when I was a prospective juror and was threatened with “Contempt of Court,” it was all I could do to suppress the urge to say all I had was contempt for the court.

    • Can you elaborate on the circumstances? Had you already been selected for the jury? How were you threatened? Did the judge say he’d hold you in contempt if you nullified – and if so, how would he know?

      What happened in the end?

      • Contempt of court is probably the only thing they CAN do, because it doesn’t need a jury. I read an article by FJIA probably ten years ago that talked about a woman who put notices about JN on every car in a parking lot when her grandson was charged with something. They arrested her and charged her with jury tampering…and then realized to make that stick they’d have to explain JN, so they dropped the charges.

        Usually there’s something in the jury questionnaire about knowing you’re only there to judge the facts, not the law, and that’s how you tell them you believe in JN.

  5. Well, I’m now sitting in the Jury Assembly room. Not many people here yet. I think they give us info forms to fill out. I’m going to try putting something about jury nullification on that form, if I can find a likely spot.

    What, you mean you didn’t wear your T-shirt?…The one that says “Ask Me About Jury Nullification!” on the front, with the winking smiley-face on the back?

    For shame!…

  6. I don’t remember the exact details, it was over 20 years ago, but the case involved the police hassling a guy to sell them some coke. After several meetings (in a local McDonalds) the guy finally agreed and sold them a bag of talcum powder, not coke. He was charged with a class 1 drug felony, even though there were no drugs on him or at his house. I asked if that was really a law that someone could be tried on a drug felony if there were no drugs. The judge told me that that was indeed the statute and drugs weren’t needed to substantiate the charge. I said I thought that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard and our conversation went down hill from there. I Remembered saying I couldn’t believe our legislature ever passed such a ill conceived law and said I would do everything to get the law changed. She tore me a new one and I thought I was lucky to get out unscathed. So in retrospect, I don’t think I mentioned Jury Nullification, but my thoughts were there.

    • My experience was different, and painless. I showed up at the jury room at 9:30 this AM, and was immediately selected for the jury panel. We all went through the rigamarole of announcing our names and other info, with the judge asking questions as he deemed necessary.

      Then we broke for fifteen minutes. When we returned, the judge announced that he would be excusing some people from the panel immediately. I was the first one excused.

          • Sweet. I am currently ineligible to serve on a jury because I do Court Transcripts and Depositions, also I don’t get paid for time off, but I expect to be called in 4 years when I retire. I will remember that.

            • It helps if it is the truth, though. This does happen to be my position, and it is a common one among libertarians. I was also prepared to explain and defend this stance to the judge if necessary, all the way from the Sixth Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny, to John Jay’s and John Adam’s statements on the matter, right through to Sparf v. US, the 1895 SCOTUS decision that relieved judges of any duty to inform jurors of their right to judge the law as well as the crime/dispute, but did negate the right itself.

              Here’s a primer (for those who are interested): https://data.mises.org/journals/jls/15_2/15_2_3.pdf

  7. Formerly I’d have said you should do whatever you can to get on a jury so that you could possibly block an unjust conviction.

    In the past five years or so I’ve read about a number of jurors who voted to acquit on the basis of an unjust law, and were reported to the judge by other jurors, and were reprimanded and threatened and dismissed for obstruction.

    Thus, it would seem pointless to get libertarians on juries. And thus falls the last bulwark against tyranny. I should update my list.

    • They were stupid enough to tell the other jurors their reasoning. Of course, they may not have understood that we have become a nation of ignorant, stupid, pussified snitches who long for the taste of the whip and the feel of chains.

      • That bears repeating. If you want to exercise your right to jury nullification, for goodness’ sake, don’t argue about it – just do it. “I don’t believe this man is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s all there is to it” will suffice. The law doesn’t require you to justify yourself. Hang the jury and most of the time they won’t bother empaneling a second one.