Fully Informed Jury Association

American Jury Institute

Function of Juries | 18 Mar 2011

Judge Misinforms Jury in Liberty Dollar Trial

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It has just been reported that a jury has convicted defendant Bernard von NotHaus on three charges related to counterfeiting with respect to his Liberty Dollar activities.

It is worth noting that the jury in this case was reportedly misinformed repeatedly by the judge and prosecutor during the trial as to their authority and responsibility to judge both the law and the facts in this case. According to an observer in court:

Co Counsel for the Prosecution, Craig Randall, gave the opening statement. …

He reiterated the Judges opening jury instruction that the Jury had to follow the law regardless of whether they felt the law was right or wrong. Their job was to determine the facts and apply the law to them as it was given to them. By repeating this issue the prosecution in the jury’s eyes may look like they are trying to enforce a law that is bad. It was repeated several times, “You must apply the law to the facts whether you agree with the law or not”. This is not a true statement as jury nullification is a deeply rooted tradition in the development of American Law. Anyone can go to the Fully Informed Jury website to learn more about this very important aspect of our justice system. www.fija.org/aie653l

At this point Judge Voorhees did repeat the jury instruction regarding the law stating that the jury would be hearing many things said during the course of the trial about what was legal but he would give them the law to apply at the end of the case.

This illustrates why FIJA’s mission is so important. We must educate potential jurors as to their rights and responsibilities in the jury box before they ever step foot in a courtroom. Judges and prosecutors may actively misinform them during the course of the trial, so it is important that they get the information they need elsewhere in order that they are able to render a just verdict.

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