While serving on a jury, you have complete authority over the law and can stop government.
Historically there have been four “boxes” from which citizens may attempt to influence the actions of the government:
1) The Ballot Box
2) The Cartridge Box
3) The Soap Box
4) The Jury Box
The majority of Americans are probably most familiar with the “ballot box” from voting in elections for government officials. Unfortunately, voting does not usually curb government powers. Your vote is never much more than a blind trust of mere men who have their own motivations which may run contrary to our constitutional republic.
This country was founded through the “cartridge box,” but this too is not an ideal way to influence change at this day and time.
The third option, the “soap box,” manifests itself as this very newsletter article which allows me to tell you about the absolute, most effective way that you, the American citizen, can presently influence our government: the jury box.
The Constitution’s Last Line of Defense
“The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”
– First Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Jay
The juror’s power of the verdict grants him complete authority over the law and thus the ability to keep the government bound to the limits of the Constitution. The juror can simply stop the enforcement of unconstitutional laws in two ways:
1) As a grand juror, you may refuse the government’s request to pursue criminal charges against the accused.
2) As a trial juror, you can acquit the defendant who is charged with breaking an unconstitutional law.
Either way, the juror has the power to say “no,” thus having an immediate and direct effect on our government.
The Constitution is intended to limit government powers and in turn the jury is intended to enforce the Constitution. The government cannot act unconstitutionally without the juror’s consent. The juror’s duty demands that he restrain the government from persecuting the innocent under laws which should not exist.
As a juror, your job is to defend the Constitution by considering the law in question in addition to the facts of the case. If the law is unconstitutional, the juror must deny the government’s request to punish the defendant.
Although our Founding Fathers secured our freedom from the British Empire through the “cartridge box,” their sacrifices allow us to continue defending our liberties without bloodshed in the court room. The lasting fight for freedom is within the hands of the jury.
The Jury’s Independence From the State
“It would be an absurdity for jurors to be required to accept the judge’s view of the law, against their own opinion, judgment, and conscience.” — John Adams
Unfortunately, in the past century, judges and prosecutors have misled juries into believing that they should only examine the facts of the case and not the law. By not considering that the law in question may violate the Constitution, juries have turned into mere extensions of the state. Trial by jury has perverted into trial by tyranny. Jurors unaware of their independence and power have allowed the government to shred the Constitution and erode our rights.
Jurors, however, must act independently of the state. A jury is meant to serve as third-party arbitration between the accused and the government. In order to do so, a juror must use his own independent judgment which is not influenced by the bias of the court.
The juror never sought his seat within the jury box. His duty does not bring public popularity or personal gain. He is chosen completely at random and represents no one but himself.
On the contrary, the judges and prosecutors are government employees that sought their positions through political campaigns in their zeal for power and prestige.
“But we all know that permanent judges… are liable to be tempted by bribery; that they are misled by favor, by relationship, by a spirit of party, by a devotion to the executive or legislative power… It is in the power, therefore of the juries… to judge the law as well as the fact.” – Thomas Jefferson
That is why it is necessary for the jury to stay independent and not influenced by the desires of the state.
In fact, a juror’s duty to the Constitution and to the court can only be performed independently from judges, prosecutors and even his own fellow jurors.
The Lone Juror Against Lawless Mob Rule
One juror can veto the entire jury from granting the government the unconstitutional go-ahead to charge or convict the accused. This power of the individual stems from the founding of our country as a constitutional republic of common-law rather than as a democratic mob rule of men.
Majorities in our country as a whole do not have the authority to act on a whim against the rights of the minority. The lone juror’s dissent truly denies the majority the ability to enforce unconstitutional laws.
The Fourth Branch of Government
“As a wall of protection our written Constitution stands between the people and those who, through lust for power, or the temporary passions of the moment, or for any other reason, would trespass upon the rights of person or property.” – War Department Training Manual, No. 2000-25, November 30, 1928
Tyranny flourishes when our Constitution is ignored with impunity. That is why the Founding Fathers recognized the concept of trial by jury as the last check and balance against a repressive regime. As a common-law juror, you represent the Fourth Branch of Government – We the People. You have the ability to nullify a law you feel is unconstitutional, immoral, unjust or unfair. Jury nullification actually predates our Bill of Rights by nearly six centuries, originating from the Magna Carta.
It is We the People who are sovereign above the government and only God above us. As such, the state can never become God and it is the juror’s duty to maintain that proper order.
Further Reading on Jury Nullification
Red Beckman offers the “Fully Informed Jury Training” video series which is available on YouTube.
Furthermore, he influenced the Fully Informed Jury Association, a non-partisan research organization founded in 1989 which provides education to Americans on their full powers as jurors, including their ability to rely on their own conscience in judging the merit of the law and its application as well as their power to nullify bad laws when necessary.
The FIJA web site can be found at: http://www.fija.org
Court Quotes on the Power of the Common-Law Jury
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” – Thomas Jefferson
“If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence… If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision.” – United States v. Moylan, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1969, 417 F.2d at 1006.
“The jury has an unreviewable and irreversible power… to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge… The pages of history shine on instances of the jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard uncontradicted evidence and instructions of the judge; for example, acquittals under the fugitive slave law.” – U.S. v. Dougherty, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, 1972, 473 F.2d at 1130 and 1132.