Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 28 Jul 2014

-How to Make Sure What Happened to Aaron Swartz Doesn’t Happen Again


Jury BoxWe’ve previously discussed the death of activist Aaron Swartz and the malicious tactics by which he and others have been pressured to forfeit their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to trial by jury. So we greatly appreciate the following article written by David Segal educating even more people how fully informed jurors can make a difference to individuals and their communities.

How to Make Sure What Happened to Aaron Swartz Doesn’t Happen Again

[Aaron Swartz] fell prey to a criminal justice system that has recently prominently pursued, or sought to pursue, the prosecution of activists like Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, and Cecily MacMillan, as well as whistleblowers like Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden. And we mustn’t forget, of course, that it regularly commits to prison thousands upon thousands of people whose names don’t make headlines and aren’t carried hundreds of miles via IRC channels or Twitter, or on the still-potent winds of the Occupy network—and are disproportionately poor people and people of color. It is structural racism epitomized.

All of the above feeds a daunting, seemingly intractable problem: 2.3 million Americans are behind bars, but there is little sign of meaningful revision to the structures that have trapped them there. Yet we needn’t entrust our hopes for reform to risk-averse politicians who fear their constituents’ reactions and, sometimes of greater bearing, those of their underwriters in the private prison industry. We can take matters into our own hands, by engaging in conscientious jury nullification—and perhaps force a reorientation of the entire criminal justice system.

Earlier this month, as I sat on a panel following the Washington, DC premier of The Internet’s Own Boy, a questioner asked what single act an individual could undertake to help make sure what happened to Aaron never happens again.

I’ve heard that question posed what seems like hundreds of times in the year and a half since Aaron’s passing. There’s a natural desire to divine the germ of something constructive out of such seemingly senseless tragedy. But I’ve only now formulated what feels like a satisfying answer, one deeper than encouraging people to sign up for activist email alerts or call a member of Congress. (While these tactics can of course be essential in the right places and at the right times, they are determinative of political outcomes only when part of mass actions.)

Here it is: targeted jury nullification.

This is a well-written article, worth clicking through for the entire write up.