By Richard Rossi, Delaware County
I would like to bring to light an issue which has gone unnoticed, a process of our legal system that is and has been a well-kept secret; JURY NULLIFICATION.
Jury nullification occurs when a trial jury reaches a verdict that is contrary to the letter of the law because the jurors either: disagree with the law under which the defendant is prosecuted or believe that the law shouldn’t be applied in the case at hand.
If you have never heard the term Juror Nullification don't be surprised, it is NOT something that Judges, District Attorneys, and Prosecutors readily speak about to juries or Grand Juries. It is a way for citizens to defend against laws that are unconstitutional and infringe on our Rights and Freedoms. Jury Nullification may be the final peaceful barrier between law abiding gun owners and a tyrannical government dependent upon disarming honorable citizens.
However, to use it you must get on the jury. Therefore, when you get a jury duty notice, be grateful and appreciative. You have a tremendous responsibility which should not be taken lightly. Once on that Jury or Grand Jury you can nullify any and all laws that infringe our right to selfdefense of our loved ones and ourselves. Self-preservation is a natural instinct of human mankind and no government has the right to take that away from you.
A bit of history about “Jury Nullification”. Alexander Hamilton, an American Founder, said that Jurors should acquit even against the judge's instruction... "if exercising their judgment with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong." One court later ruled, "If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust... or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the power to acquit and the courts must abide by that decision - (U.S. V Moylan 427 F 2d 1002, 1006, 1969)
Reasoning jurors defend liberty when they refuse to convict fellow citizens who are maliciously accused of crimes. Reasoning jurors freed tax protesters during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 and during Prohibition.
Who is the most powerful person(s) in a jury trial? Some might say the judge. However, it is the JURY. The Citizens that compose the jury are ultimately responsible for the guilt or innocence of the individual on trial. Judges may and do give you the law that pertains to a particular case and the prosecution may claim that they have made their case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, you, as the jury, decide the verdict.
The defense of our liberties happens at the ballot box, the soap box and the jury box. The founding Fathers (writers of our US Constitution), understood that power always corrupts and that people must retain and understand the various ways to defend oneself from one’s own government.
Let’s look at a modern-day case – Bernard Goetz. The jury defended Goetz’ Right of Self Defense with a firearm on the New York subway system against multiple attackers. The government accused Goetz of several crimes, but a jury of his peers refused to convict him of all but one crime, thus defending his right to defend himself. The jury acquitted Goetz because members of the jury understood their authority to judge the law and refused to apply laws that the government imposed.
Be aware that the chances of being punished for practicing Jury Nullification are remote, but possible. The law limits the courts' ability to inquire into jurors' motivations during or after a verdict. Jurors cannot be punished for their verdict, even if they reached it improperly. However, there could be legal consequences if it can be proved a juror violated an oath or on some technical legal grounds.
Juror nullification is your right to refuse to enforce bad laws and bad prosecutions. Nullification is your personal veto over corrupt laws from corrupt politicians with political agendas. In our system of checks and balances, you, the juror, are the final judge of law and justice. We can stand up for our Rights and Freedoms against our legislators and judges who dictate laws that are unjust. We can take back our justice system. We the jurors have the power... JURY NULLIFICATION.
As a Law-abiding gun owner or Concealed Carry Permit holder especially in New York State where our Second Amendment Rights are constantly being attacked and regulated to the point that the 2nd Amendment is just words with no meaning - this is an opportunity to shine. You can make the NYS SAFE Act into just words without power - just like they are attempting to do with our Second Amendment Rights and Freedoms.
As a side note, even if you are not a juror, you can be active; become a 'Court Watcher'. You have a right to attend most court trial functions. Just like the 'media' you can voice your opinions in your local papers in the letter to the editor sections. You can voice your agreement or disagreement with the results (verdict) and the actions of the court officials. We still have freedom of speech; the more individuals that are keeping a 'watchful eye' on our judicial process the better for all of us.
The same holds true for Town Meetings, School Board Meetings and 'Town Hall' events. When the public does not show up, it sends a message to our various boards that they can do as they please without and consequences. No one is watching or caring. Attend, be vocal and defend your convictions. You can make a difference.
You can learn more about this by visiting WWW.FIJA.ORG or calling 1-800-TEL-JURY to get more detailed information. I strongly suggest that you visit this site for informed citizens are what keeps our Government in check.