“A jury consists of twelve people too stupid to figure out how to get out of serving.” That's one way of looking at it.
Allan's late mother looked at it that way. She lived (among other places) in California. The California county jury commissioner sent her a questionnaire. It had dozens of questions, all designed to determine whether, under California statutes, she qualified for jury service. Until the last question, dear mom answered each one honestly. To that point, no information that she provided was disqualifying. Then came the final question: “Is there any other reason that you know of that you could not serve as a juror?” She answered, “Yes. Judge not, lest ye, yourself, be judged.” She then signed the form, “J. Christ.” She never heard from the jury folks again.
That, we suppose, is one way to avoid serving on a jury. But although it suggests how one can avoid jury service, it fails to address the question of whether one should avoid jury service. For reasons to be indicated here, Marijuana Lawyers in New Jersey™ believe that jury service is to be welcomed, not avoided.
High school civics teachers tell us that jury service is one of citizens' responsibilites. It is a responsibility that accompanies living in a democracy. Jury service and voting. Marijuana Lawyers in New Jersey™ completely agree. There's probably not too much more taught in those classes where they do agree. But the reasons that they agree are probably far from the reasons in the teachers' platitudinous mindset.
On the subject of platitudes, there is a saying, “If voting could change anything, they would make it illegal.” That one has merit. Our social machine gives us two major political parties. Forgetting lofty labels, we can very accurately think of those parties as just “bad” and “worse.” And although Marijuana Lawyers in New Jersey™, perhaps illogically, encourage voting, voting will never profoundly change anything.
Jury service is different. Jury service, be it on a criminal or on a civil case, gives the individual incredible power. It is the power of right and wrong. It is the power to make our society more just (or less injust). It is the most governmental power that many of us will ever have. It is a fantastic opportunity. The juror can help extract justice from large arrogant corporations. The juror can convict persons who perpetrate loathsome crimes. And the juror can free persons charged with violating unjust laws. We say again, the juror can free persons charged with violating unjust laws.
Jurors can free persons charged with violating unjust laws by the simple act of voting “not guilty.” The evidence against the defendant may be overwhelming. It does not matter. The juror always has the power, regardless, of voting “not guilty.” Criminal defense lawyers are prohibited from informing jurors that they have this power. The judge will never tell jurors that they have this power. The judge, in fact, will tell jurors the exact opposite. The judge will instruct jurors that if they find such and such, then they “must” return a verdict of guilty.
This instruction is wrong. Regardless of the facts that the juror finds, the juror always has the power to vote “not guilty,” and stick to it. The juror is not required to explain his/her vote. If pressed for an explanation, the juror can simply state that s/he had a reasonable doubt about one or more of the elements of the crime. It would be improper for fellow jurors or even the judge to probe further. Ever. The thought processes of the juror are sacred.
Jurors exercising this power, or who think they might exercise it, will be excused from jury service if they verbalize their awareness of the power. After being selected as a juror, announcing refusal to follow the judge's instructions can lead to dismissal from the jury, or even fines and prosecution. Thus jurors and potential jurors contemplating exercising this power must do so with discretion if they are to avoid unpleasant consequences.
The power that Marijuana Lawyers in New Jersey™ describes on this page has a name. It is called “jury nullification.” Although now in disrepute, jury nullification has an honorable and proud history in Anglo-American jurisprudence. Persons interested in this subject can learn more from various sources on the web. In fact, an excellent book devotes itself to that topic. Marijuana Lawyers in New Jersey™ encourage that exploration.
Allan Marain |
Norman Epting, Jr.
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