Fully Informed Jury Association

American Jury Institute

Jury Nullification | 06 Nov 2012

End the War

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Thank you very much to Floyd Everett Harshman for the following letter to the editor published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and to Alaska state contact Frank Turney for letting us know about it:

End the war

To the editor:

If you are tired of the war on marijuana, the war on drugs and the waste of lives and taxpayers’ dollars, you have the power to stop it. Our Founding Fathers knew our government would make mistakes and eventually become self-serving. This is why they gave us grand juries and juries; to protect ourselves. Our government cannot bring us to trial without the OK of our fellow citizens: grand juries. Our government cannot punish us for not following their arbitrary and unjust laws without the OK of our fellow citizens: trial by jury.

Jury nullification can best be described as a constitutional doctrine that allows juries to acquit defendants who are technically guilty, but who do not deserve punishment. When a jury disregards the evidence and follows its own conscience, acquitting an otherwise guilty defendant, it has practiced jury nullification. The jury is saying that the law is unfair, either generally or in this particular case.

Jury nullification is perfectly legal and has a long history — indeed, the framers of the Constitution intended its use to protect us from bad laws, tyranny and governmental oppression. Having themselves suffered under unfair and oppressive laws, they wished for us, their children, to retain our liberty and freedom from governmental interference. Thanks to our forefathers’ forethought and our Constitution, when it comes to acquittals, jurors have the last word. There is nothing that our government or their judges can do to prevent jurors from nullifying bad laws.

The idea that jurors should judge the law, as well as the facts, is a proud part of America’s history. The concept that jurors decide justice became an important part of American jurisprudence.

It is time that we, the people, remember this and use jury nullification to end the unjust and costly war on drugs.

Floyd Everett Harshman

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