Fully Informed Jury Association

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eBulletin & Jurors Doing Justice | 29 Dec 2010

The True Role of the Juror: Jury Pool’s Veto in Montana

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The True Role of the Juror: Jury Pool’s Veto in Montana

If you found the story about the Missoula jury pool refusal to enforce a bad law to be refreshing, you will be glad to learn that this honorable tradition by juries goes back to the Magna Carta. It is one of the rights used by the People to keep any government from being able to enforce bad laws. Jurors can veto bad laws by refusing to convict.

Jurors have refused to convict those violating the federal Fugitive Slave Act, which made it a crime to assist a slave running to freedom. Another example is Prohibition-era jurors refusing to convict people who had whiskey in their possession. Recently, jurors have refused to convict peaceful gun owners, war protesters, tax protesters, and alternative medical therapy patients.

Before the 1900s, almost every juror knew that the right to veto bad laws was their birthright in this nation. It is a legal function of juries to veto corrupt laws passed by corrupt politicians and enforced by corrupt government employees—just as this Missoula jury pool did. People are no longer taught about this right, but the right still exists.

Judges often instruct jurors that the judge decides matters of law, and the jury only decides matters of fact. The judge is either ignorant of the truth, or lying. In all jury cases, whether to protect our right to self-defense, or to protect our absolute ownership of our bodies and what we do with them—as long as we aren’t harming any other person—jurors can and must refuse to convict under bad laws violating human rights. And a juror cannot be punished for a verdict, or required to explain their vote to acquit. It is the absolute right of jurors to vote to acquit, and by that action prevent the enforcement of corrupt, unpopular, outdated, or unjust laws.

What is especially outstanding about the Missoula jury pool is that these many people, all chosen at random, came before a court and let the government know that the independent People disapprove of government employee actions which waste the hard-earned money of taxpayers to indulge the whims of ambitious government employees. It’s about time we teach government employees to spend our money wisely and frugally. Further, the voters of Missoula had recently voted to end such prosecutions. The People have the right to utilize their veto power through juries when government employees refuse to honor the will of the People who pay them. This time, the jury pool cut short the waste of their time and funds by refusing to consider the case. Good for them.

Remember when serving on a jury that if there is no harm to another person, there is no crime. As a juror, we each have the human right to refuse to enforce corrupt laws passed by corrupt politicians. Our refusal to convict is our veto power. Jurors can use this to stop political prosecutions for victimless actions, and to emphatically reinforce the will of the People to end the enforcement of bad laws. It has worked before, and it can work now against venal, vicious, and over-reaching prosecutions.

Iloilo Marguerite Jones
Fully Informed Jury Association

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