On September 5 each year for more than 25 years, FIJA has celebrated Jury Rights Day as our signature day of educational outreach. On this day in 1670, William Penn of London was arrested for publicly preaching the Quaker religion in violation of England’s Conventicles Act, which outlawed the public practice of religions other than the Church of England.
Though he had technically broken the law, Penn pled Not Guilty. Nonetheless, the court repeatedly and with increasing agitation instructed the jurors to find Penn guilty. In punishment for the jurors’ refusal to enforce this unjust law, the court jailed the noncompliant jurors, withholding from them food and water, tobacco and fire.
Some of the jurors appealed their fines and imprisonment. In a case known as Bushell’s case, the higher court ruling confirmed that jurors cannot be punished for their verdict, even if a law has technically been broken. Penn’s and Bushell’s cases not only firmly established our jury rights in the common law tradition, but also laid a foundation for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly that we hold dear still today.
Jurors’ refusal to enforce unjust or unjustly applied laws is known as jury nullification, jury veto, or conscientious acquittal. It is a crucial tool that citizens have to restrain government. This authority is our peaceful protection to stop corrupt government servants from violating our rights.
How You Can Celebrate Jury Rights Day
We encourage everyone to do one or more of the following simple things to celebrate Jury Rights Day:
● Spend an hour in front of a local courthouse with friends sharing FIJA brochures. We’ll even provide a free event kit!
● Participate in a Labor Day parade or other event to create more fully informed jurors in your community.
● Speak to a local civic group or school about the history of Jury Rights Day and the protective role of the jury.
● Submit an op-ed or write a letter to the editor of a local or national publication or website discussing jury nullification and Jury Rights Day.
● Call into or be a guest on a talk radio show to discuss jury rights.
● Post a Jury Rights Day status on your Facebook page and link to the offical FIJA Facebook page to help educate more prospective jurors.
● Follow @FIJANational on Twitter and use hashtag #JuryRightsDay to promote Jury Rights Day before September 5 and to inform people about jurors’ rights on September 5.
Be sure to join the Jury Rights Day 2016 event page on Facebook to show your support and keep up as we share announcements, resources, and so on as we gear up for Jury Rights Day. Please also feel free to e-mail us with a summary of your Jury Rights Day plans if you would like us to help publicize them through our website and social networks.
Request a FREE Jury Rights Kit for an Event
If you commit to hosting a Jury Rights Day event and need materials, we would love to help you! Each year we are able to provide a limited amount of materials to individuals and groups who are hosting Jury Rights Day events on or near Jury Rights Day. These materials are for Jury Rights Day events only, and are not just for general use. Therefore, we ask that those who are requesting them provide us details of the event they will be hosting and also commit to providing us with some brief information after the event.
Upon receiving your request, we will assess the size and type of the event and put together a package of materials including Jury Rights Day postcards, FIJA brochures, and other materials. We will not ship complementary materials until we have your event and all the details listed on the calendar.
We must receive your request on or before 25 August 2016 or one week before the scheduled start date of your event, whichever is earlier, to allow time to package and ship your kit in time for your event. All shipments will be sent by priority mail to ensure delivery in time for Jury Rights Day.
Special note for The Human Solution International chapters:
If you are a THSI chapter hosting an event, please mark the question about this “Yes” in your kit request. To help save on shipping costs, FIJA is once again including special THSI/FIJA postcards in our Jury Rights Day flat rate shipments rather than having THSI pay extra to ship them separately. If you indicate that you are a THSI chapter, we will verify with THSI national leadership and include additional materials.
Help Provide Jury Rights Day Materials
Help FIJA provide Jury Rights Day materials to groups and individuals hosting Jury Rights Day events around the country. Each Jury Rights Day kit provided will contain 100 Jury Rights Day postcards, printed with FIJA’s message on one side and blank on the other, plus 2- 100-packs of brochures, chosen by the event hosts. The postcards are suitable for mailing or handing out at events. The blank side can be used by the event host to add a custom message. Additional items may also be included depending on the size and nature of the event. We will assemble and ship these kits to as many event hosts as possible at no charge to them. You can sponsor a Jury Rights Day kit for $75, by donating below.
or click here to make a donation of