Fully Informed Jury Association

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FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 10 Oct 2012

The Only ‘Civic Duty’ Worth Your Time

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As elections approach, Joel Poindexter argues that jury duty is the only ‘civic duty’ worth the time it takes. As a juror, your VOTE is your VETO!

The Only ‘Civic Duty’ Worth Your Time

Most people I know do their best to get out of jury duty, but it’s something I actually look forward to, and hope to be selected for at some point. This is because sitting on a jury is the only “civic duty” I find to be at least halfway morally acceptable and worth my time. Unlike during elections, when on a jury, your vote actually counts for something and individual members can make a difference in the trial’s outcome, and even on the very laws in question.

There was a time in our history when it was commonly understood that juries weren’t merely selected to decide whether a particular defendant was innocent or guilty, but were also charged with deciding if the law itself was legitimate. A jury would consider whether the accused should even be in court, not just whether the prosecutor had sufficiently cherry-picked his evidence and met the legal requirement for obtaining a conviction. And if the law was unjust, if it violated the natural rights of the accused, then the jury would nullify it, thereby releasing the accused and effectively tossing out the law at the same time.

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