Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries | 07 Mar 2013

-Rand Paul’s Filibuster Attempt to Hold Obama and Holder to Jury Protection of Human Rights

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C. Jeffrey Small wrote yesterday about Rand Paul’s filibuster attempt to force President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to uphold the Constitution which they have sworn to defend—including its provisions for due process and trial by jury.

Subject: Action Alert

Earlier today, Rand Paul, the Republican Senator from KY, began a filibuster of the nomination of Obama appointee, John Brennan, to head up the CIA. Paul is conducting this filibuster in an attempt to force President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to declare their allegiance to the Writ of Habeas Corpus (Section 9) and the right to trial by Jury (5th Amendment) as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. He is demanding that they state categorically that the Executive branch does not have the authority to unilaterally target for death, any American citizen on American soil who does not pose an immediate threat. So far, both have refused to make a clear declaration.

The need to take such a stand comes in the wake of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) coupled with the administration’s recent actions to turn Homeland Security into a unconstitutional, national, military organization and transition local police into a paramilitary force, while concurrently stockpiling arms and ammo and deploying drones across America.

If you are not already concerned, then you haven’t been paying attention!

We now have a government that has gone mad with power and has no hesitation in mowing down any pesky constitutional concerns that still get in its way. Rand Paul has drawn a line in the sand and is taking a firm stand for limiting the government to its ennumerated powers and for protecting all of our rights. This filibuster is a symbolic act, and a very important one. The question is will the administration be forced to concede that their are limits to its actions, or will this filibuster simply fizzle out and soon be forgotten, along with the last remnants of our rights.

While Rand Paul concluded his filibuster in the wee hours of this morning, making his nearly 13-hour long filibuster the 9th longest in United States Senate history, the debate is not over. Work must continue to protect human rights to life and liberty from murder merely at the president’s whim by way of his infamous “kill list” .

Click through to read the entire commentary and to find out how you can continue this effort to ensure that Americans are protected by Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to due process and to trial by jury from summary execution by presidential edict without due process.

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Interviews & Jury Nullification | 06 Mar 2013

-Kirsten Tynan Talks Jury Nullification on The Preppers Poitin Hour

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FIJA National Coordinator Kirsten Tynan joined Chris Watson as a last minuted guest this past Monday, 4 March, on The Preppers Poitin Hour. Click through to hear the show on-demand. Kirsten joins the show about a half hour into the broadcast.

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 05 Mar 2013

-Jury Nullification is the Best Way to Keep Government Under Control

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Thanks to Michigan FIJA activist Rose Lear for this blog post on the power of jury nullification in keeping government in check:

Jury Nullification is the Best Way to Keep Government Under Control

he Jury is our last line of defense against an out of control Government moving toward Fascism. There are many groups of activists today who all have their issues and Special Interests. They spend lots of money lobbying law makers for things they want no matter who’s liberties they may step on to get what they want.

We hold primaries and elections to choose the best candidate to run for office and they all take an oath to uphold and protect your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, until they get elected. Then they soon forget that thing called the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But lucky for Americans, we still have that last VOTE that not only counts, but can NULLIFY all the bad and unconstitutional laws our wayward elected employees make.

Here are the two most FEARED words that our Government never wants to hear.

JURY NULLIFICATION.

Click through for the entire post.

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Function of Juries | 04 Mar 2013

-Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony

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Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony

In the first jury trial stemming from an Occupy Wall Street protest, Michael Premo was found innocent of all charges yesterday after his lawyers presented video evidence directly contradicting the version of events offered by police and prosecutors.

In the police version of events, Premo charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer’s bone. That’s the story prosecutors told in Premo’s trial, and it’s the general story his arresting officer testified to under oath as well.

…the video prominently shows a TARU cop named Bosco, holding up his camera, which is on, and pointing at the action around the kettle. When Premo’s lawyers subpoenaed Bosco, they were told he was on a secret mission at “an undisclosed location,” and couldn’t respond to the subpoena. Judge Robert Mandelbaum didn’t accept that, and Bosco ultimately had to testify [Correction: Bosco didn’t take the stand; he had to appear at the District Attorney’s office for a meeting with Maurus and prosecutors. Judge Mandelbaum accepted that Bosco would likely say on the stand what he said in the meeting, and didn’t require him to testify.] Bosco claimed, straining credibility, that though the camera is clearly on and he can be seen in the video pointing it as though to frame a shot, he didn’t actually shoot any video that evening.

Even more importantly, the Democracy Now video also flipped the police version of events on its head. Far from showing Premo tackling a police officer, it shows cops tackling him as he attempted to get back on his feet.

Click through for the entire article discussing the situation, which involved the defendant being down on the ground trying to crawl when police claim he charged them.

This is very similar to the case of Phil Mocek-who was acquitted by a jury without ever presenting a defense case-after it became clear that the testimony of the law enforcement officers involved did not match the evidence on video that Phil recovered after it disappeared from his camera while in the custody of police.

Jurors should keep in mind that the testimony of law enforcement officers holds no special authority simply because they have badges. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Statements made by government agents should be weighed thoughtfully, taking into consideration potential prejudice against the defendant and for the prosecution, and that as human beings, they are as able to supply inaccurate information, whether inadvertently or intentionally, as any other witness.

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Jury Nullification & Volunteer | 04 Mar 2013

-Breath of Fresh Air Spring Special

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Cabin fever getting to you? Ready to get outside and stretch your legs as the weather warms up? As the weather starts to warm up, our Breath of Fresh Air Spring Special might be just what you need! Click on the graphic to place your order in our online Media Catalog.

FreshAir2

Don’t forget as you are outside hosting information tables at local events, passing out literature, marching in parades, and so on this season to snap some pictures and send them to us at aji@fija.org along with a little information on your outreach activities. We may feature you on our website or in a future newsletter.

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 02 Mar 2013

-RT America Discusses Jury Nullification with Kirsten Tynan

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Abby Martin of RT America’s program Breaking the Set discusses jury nullification and FIJA outreach with FIJA staff member Kirsten Tynan:

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Freedom Friday & Jury Nullification | 01 Mar 2013

-FREEDOM FRIDAY: Houston Free Thinkers Outreach

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As the weather warms up and sidewalk activism ramps up, this week we feature the Houston Free Thinkers in our Freedom Friday video. Members of the Houston Free Thinkers recently held an Info Jam at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, Texas. They passed out information on jury nullification and other issues. We spotted FIJA’s Fresh Air for Justice, Primer for Prospective Jurors, and True and False brochures, plus our Jury Rights Day postcards, in this video. Thank you, Houston Free Thinkers, for helping get the word out about jurors’ power to protect human rights!

We invite you to take a moment during your lunch break today to distribute the link to this blog post to your friends and family via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you would like to recommend a jury-related video for promotion on Freedom Friday, let us know in the FIJA forum or by sending an e-mail to us at aji(at)fija.org/aie653l.

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Jury Nullification | 28 Feb 2013

-TONIGHT: FIJA Board Member Don Doig on The View From Montana

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TVFMontana

FIJA co-founder and board member Don Doig will be on
The View from Montana on Blog Talk Radio
tonight at 8:00 pm Mountain time.
Listen from anywhere live or on-demand after the broacast.
Listeners may call in to speak with the host at:
(646) 564-9915

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Jury Nullification | 27 Feb 2013

-Update on Georgia’s Fully Informed Jury Bill

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FIJA national is a non-political, strictly educational organization. We do not support or oppose any piece of legislation. However, we do track legislation that is relevant to our educational mission. We have come across a mention of the Fully Informed Jury bill currently going through the legislative process in Georgia:

Doug Holt: Heading into intense portion of the session

HB 25, titled the Fully Informed Jury Act of 2013, would require that judges allow a defendant to argue for jury nullification in court proceedings. Jury nullification happens when a jury either disagrees with the law the defendant is being charged under, or feels that the law shouldn’t be applied in the case before them. Thus the jury essentially takes the law into its own hands and acquits. The author seems to feel that judges are given undue discretion in whether to allow discussion of nullification.

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Function of Juries | 27 Feb 2013

-Beware of Jury Duty Scams

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Muskegon County, Michigan residents have been targeted by a variation of a recurring scam in which they are threatened by a caller or through e-mail with arrest for allegedly missing jury duty.

Jury Duty Scam

We have received numerous phone calls from citizens and potential jurors informing us that they have received phone calls and e-mails stating that they have missed jury duty. Some have been told their name is on a list at the courthouse, some have been told that they have a bench warrant out for their arrest. Some have been told that they have the option to pay a $500 fine or serve a 30 day jail sentence.

Snopes.com confirms that this variations of this scam have been cropping up for years. We remind everyone to be cautious and independently verify information before disclosing personal details, making payments, etc. if contacted by an unknown individual.

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 19 Feb 2013

-University of Virginia Honor Committee’s Proposed Jury Reforms Are Ill-Advised

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Two members of the University of Virginia’s law school faculty, Josh Bowers, Associate Professor of Law, and Kim Forde-Mazrui, William S. Potter Professor of Law, penned the following commentary on proposed changes to the University of Virginia Honor Committee’s jury system. The Honor Committee proposes, among other things, to abandon the jury of twelve students, randomly selected in each case, and to replace it with a panel of five Honor Committee members who would serve on an on-going basis. Professors Bowers and Ford-Mazrui make an excellent case for maintaining an independent jury of peers, especially in the Honor Committee system which imposes a single, harsh sanction of expulsion in all cases, regardless of the severity of the offense.

Proposed Jury Reforms Are Ill-Advised

Concretely, we believe that a jury trial right is integral to an honor system that summarily expels all offenders convicted at trial. We are troubled, therefore, to discover that the Honor Committee now intends to water down—if not outright abandon—the very hallmark of its proud Honor System. We are all the more dismayed by the Committee’s reasons and explanations—reasons and explanations that fly in the face of constitutional tradition, historical experience, established judicial doctrine, and social science. If nothing else, we now write to set the record straight about the value of a randomly selected jury (and direct democratic participation, more generally), and we urge the Committee to reconsider its position and the student body to reject the proposed reforms.

Our criminal justice system has long comprehended that a lay collective is the best mechanism to guard against apathetic, overzealous, and biased prosecutors and judges. In this vein, the Court has held that professional five-person juries—like the proposed panel—are insufficient to ensure impartiality, deliberation, accuracy, and fairness. According to the Court in Duncan v. Louisiana—the seminal opinion that extended the constitutional right to juries to state criminal trials—“the common-sense judgment of a jury” may be preferable “to the more tutored but perhaps less sympathetic reaction of the single judge.” The Court understood that a lay body brings with it a unique perspective that an elite professional panel may lack. For this reason, the Court observed in Glasser v. United States that a jury must be “truly representative of the community, and not the organ of any special group or class.” Lay juries—and, by extension, randomly selected student juries—bring to each case fresh eyes and everyday wisdom (which, in turn, may lead them to different results). As the Duncan Court observed: “[W]hen juries differ with the result at which the judge would have arrived, it is usually because they are serving some of the very purposes for which they were created and for which they are now employed.”

At bottom, institutional actors are subject to institutional biases, including a tendency to presume guilt. Their perspectives are colored by their positions. It is no surprise, then, that the Honor Committee currently expresses deep disagreement with acquittals that served to defeat the very charges that Committee members saw fit to bring. Look no further than the Campaign for Honor’s own website. Throughout, the unmistakable tenor is that accused students who challenge charges do so dishonestly. The Committee has appointed itself arbiter of what constitutes “overwhelming evidence,” and it has dubbed all randomly-selected students who came to different conclusions “apprehensive and uncomfortable” with the Honor System. And we anticipate that the elite members of the proposed jury panel will skew likewise in favor of conviction.

We grant that there almost certainly are genuine instances of randomly selected student juries nullifying honor trials, even if we cannot identify such cases conclusively. But we think that these student juries may acquit at high rates for the same reason that common-law juries commonly acquitted defendants facing mandatory capital punishment for relatively trivial felonies under England’s “Bloody Code”: acquittal was the only option to a sometimes intolerably disproportionate sanction. In the face of a single sanction, an acquittal may convey the message that the punishment is too harsh. Rather than heed that message, the Honor Committee proposes to shoot the messenger (that is, the randomly selected jury) and replace it with a “highly trained” panel that, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, is prepared to impose the single sanction good and hard.

In imposing a single, harsh sanction for all offenses, regardless of proportionality of the punishment to the severity of the offense, the University of Virginia Honor Committee is pursuing a retributive strategy rather than a restorative one. Rather than to address the injustice of the single-sentence punishment system, such as by entrusting the jury with finding an appropriate sentence, it seeks to dismiss the independent jury altogether to be replaced with a panel predisposed toward imposing harsh punishment rather than restoring balance to the community. It is a shame that, in the home state of Thomas Jefferson who famously defended the jury as “the only anchor yet devised by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” an institution of higher learning seeks to rid itself of that anchor.

We encourage you to read the entire article. It illustrates that juries need not be operated formally within the government legal system to be an effective body in protecting the rights of all involved including the accused, restoring balance, and delivering justice in a community.

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Jury Nullification | 18 Feb 2013

-Reader Questions Why ‘Fully Informed Jury Act’ Failed

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Montana’s Larry Dodge Fully Informed Jury Act recently made it out of committee, but subsequently was voted down on the House floor. This letter to the editor comes from a local Montana reader questioning the votes of many Montana representatives:

Reader questions why ‘Fully Informed Jury Act’ failed

“The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” — John Jay, first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1789.

What part of this statement do 62 members of the Montana House of Representative not understand? Who could possibly be threatened by a citizen who knows his rights, and exercises his duty as a juror? If chaos is the concern, as suggested by the Montana Bar Association lobbyist, then one must expect they believe that people aware of their rights are a threat to civil order.

This kind of thinking compels me to question who is the real and larger threat. House Bill 290 (the “Larry Dodge Fully Informed Jury Act”) failed Saturday, Feb. 9, on the House floor. This bill would simply require judges to inform jurors of their right and duty. Twenty-three Republicans joined all Democrats and voted against your “right to an informed, impartial jury,” in violation of their oath.

If this bothers you, contact your legislator and demand an explanation.

Bob Wagner

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Freedom Friday & Jury Nullification | 15 Feb 2013

-FREEDOM FRIDAY: RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY

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Jury nullification is a powerful tool around the world. This week’s Freedom Friday video features a brief two-and-a-half minute clip from British television series Rumpole of the Bailey. This short excerpt is a great reminder that it is not only a juror’s right, but also responsibility, to put justice above the law- no matter where they live.

We invite you to take a moment during your lunch break today to distribute the link to this blog post to your friends and family via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you would like to recommend a jury-related video for promotion on Freedom Friday, let us know in the FIJA forum or by sending an e-mail to us at aji(at)fija.org/aie653l.

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Jury Nullification | 11 Feb 2013

-Jury Nullification in Edwin Vieira’s “The Sword And Sovereignty”

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In his review of Edwin Vieira’s newest book The Sword And Sovereignty, Nelson Hultberg highlihgts Vieira’s discussion in Chapter One of the fallacy that the Court is the final arbiter of what the law is.

A Review of Edwin Vieira’s The Sword And Sovereignty

One of the most profound parts of the book is its explanation in Chapter One of the present day fallacy of “judicial supremacy,” showing how the Supreme Court is not the ultimate judge of “what the law is.” Congress stands above the Court and may stipulate how the Judges are to interpret the laws. But most importantly, the People stand above Congress, for they are the creators of Congress via the Constitution. WE THE PEOPLE rule in America, not congressional despots and judicial oligarchs.

As the famous eighteenth century jurist, Sir William Blackstone, observed in Commentaries on the Laws of England, “whenever a question arises between the society at large and any magistrate vested with powers originally delegated by that society, it must be decided by the voice of the society itself: there is not upon earth any other tribunal to resort to.”Thus the salvation of America must come with reassertion of the citizens’ fundamental right to decide the ultimate issues of their lives. Through political techniques such as nullification on the part of juries and state governments the overweening excesses of today’s Federal Government and its bureaucratic thugs can be brought to heel.

Click through for the entire article.

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Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 11 Feb 2013

-Happy Hour: Thank the Nullifiers

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Removal of liquor during prohibition

Removal of liquor during prohibition

In this article about the role of nullification in the repeal of Prohibition, Steve Palmer of the Tenth Amendment Center cites the role of jury nullification, alongside other types of nullification, in restoring order. He points out that it was not nullification that resulted in chaos and disorder in society, but government-imposed Prohibition that did so. Jurors exercising their right to refuse to convict defendants who had harmed nobody helped restore order and justice and contributed to the repeal of the 18th Amendment. Palmer points out that this was, in fact, the SECOND time jury nullification and other types of nullification had contributed to the passage of a Constitutional amendment.

Yet Another Nullification Success Story

What strikes me most about prohibition and its repeal is that this is a familiar recipe. NullifiersAmendmentsWe have seen how nullification helped pave the way to freedom for Pennsylvania’s black population during the 19th century. Pennsylvania’s resistance to the federal fugitive slave acts spanned decades and included jury nullification, individual nullification in the form of the underground railroad, state-level nullification in the form of personal freedom acts, and electoral efforts at the national level, eventually culminating in the Civil War and the 13th amendment.

Similarly, the Whiskey Rebellion, consisted of a combination of jury nullification, individual nullification in the form of non-compliance, and organized nullification in the western counties of many of the states. It came to fruition when Thomas Jefferson was elected President. Jefferson appointed Pennsylvanian and accused whiskey rebel, Albert Gallatin, to be his Treasury Secretary and to oversee the repeal of the unpopular whiskey tax.

This article will demonstrate how the same basic template was used in order to bring about the 21st amendment. Can the nullification deniers continue to bury their heads in the sand when nullification has played a role in not one, but two Constitutional amendments? It’s sort-of hard to argue that nullification isn’t a valid part of the Constitutional process when there are two real, live, examples where nullification was part of the process that led up to a Constitutional amendment.

The 18th amendment was Constitutional by definition, but there is an argument to be made that the law passed by Congress and the Supreme Court’s interpretations were not. When confronted with what the people and the states believed to be federal overreach, the people responded with outright disobedience and jury nullification. The cities and states nullified through sporadic or complete absence of enforcement. As with the Whiskey Rebellion and resistance to the Federal Fugitive Slave Act, the federal government was unable to overcome the resistance and was eventually forced to repeal the detested intrusion.

When a nullification denier tells us that nullification is ineffective, the repeal of prohibition tells us otherwise. When a nullification denier tells us that nullification will lead to chaos and disorder, the repeal of prohibition tells us otherwise. In the case of prohibition, disorder arrived because a dishonest federal government attempted to pull a bait and switch on the American people. Order was restored when nullification led to repeal.

Click through for the entire article.

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