Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Freedom Law | 10 Dec 2012

Gem Unearthed in Freedom Law Archives


This morning we share with you a gem unearthed from the Freedom Law archives. Freedom Law is a self-help legal clinic and law library. Several years ago, R. J. Tavel, an active FIJA supporter and advocate, started a complimentary web site named Freedom Law. On this site, R. J. built an encyclopedic compendium of law-related articles, links, references, and commentary. Freedom Law provides free, independent perspectives and links on many law-related subjects, as well as commentary on opinions and rulings. In 2007, R. J. Tavel donated the site, as well as funds for its maintenance and continuation, to FIJA.

This Amicus Curae brief, filed April 25, 1996 and cited in the New York Times in June 1997, regarding the concept of jury nullification as documented in the Indiana State Constitution, comes from R. J. Tavel himself:


Comes now, R. J. Tavel, J.D., Indiana state coordinator for the Fully Informed Jury Association, Inc., [a not-for-profit educational organization organized pursuant to IRC ยง501(c)(3) headquartered in Helmville, Montana with affiliate chapters in all 50 states of the United States] who, in support of the continued vitality of the concept of jury nullification found in the body of our state’s constitution [Ind. Const. art. I, sec. 19], here submits, by way of his amicus curae brief, that then Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard was speaking to this Criminal Court when he observed: “Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” [22 In. L. R. 575 (1989) quoting Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)].

The provision of jury nullification in the body of our constitution is not anomalous or even singular in its prescription since Article I Section 3 provides that no law may “interfere with the rights of conscience.” Indeed, just as section 9 thereof affirms the rights of expression in language much more comprehensive than the first amendment to the U. S. Constitution, the very provision of all Hoosiers’ right to “due process” is more explicitly stated as a “guarantee that all courts shall be open and that every person shall have a remedy.” These are not accidents or mere happenstance. Quite to the contrary, they are the result of great deliberation and are meant to stand as the fundamental provisions underlying the consent of the people to be governed by the state [1 Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Indiana 1850 394 (1850)].

Click through for the entire brief.