Juries Empowered to Judge Both the Law and the Facts

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In fact, juries were empowered to judge both the law and the facts. 

Following are some quotes from people who were there and whose knowledge has nearly been flushed down the memory hole by the Ministry:

The first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay said, “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase said, “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.”

Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Theophilus Parsons said, “If a juror accepts as the law that which the judge states, then the juror has accepted the exercise of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered a power and right that once was the citizen’s safeguard of liberty.”  He also said, “But, sir, the people themselves have it in their power effectually to resist usurpation, without being driven to an appeal of arms. An act of usurpation is not obligatory; it is not law; and any man may be justified in his resistance. Let him be considered as a criminal by the general government, yet only his fellow-citizens can convict him; they are his jury, and if they pronounce him innocent, not all the powers of Congress can hurt him; and innocent they certainly will pronounce him, if the supposed law he resisted was an act of usurpation.”

Thomas Jefferson said, “It is left, therefore, to the juries, if they think the permanent judges are under any bias whatever in any cause, to take on themselves to judge the law as well as the fact. They never exercise this power but when they suspect partiality in the judges, and by the exercise of this power they have been the firmest bulwarks of English liberty.”  He also said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet devised by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

Over a hundred years later, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., said, “The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.”   Apparently, those who wanted to turn our democratic system back into an aristocratic one got him to change his opinion and work for them shortly thereafter, but of course, when you get to create the money, you can buy anyone because cost is no real object.

Anyway, the law is not brain surgery and should not be so convoluted that an average citizen cannot understand it.  If it is, a jury should be able to nullify it, just as the juries did with alcohol prohibition and just as the juries refused to convict when the defendant acted in self defense.  After juries repeatedly refused to follow the law in those examples, the government finally passed laws that followed the jurors decisions.

So, you say we just need good people in office.  How do we know that they are good and will not be corrupted?  Perhaps we should revert to divinely inspired rulers?  There were a couple good ones, weren’t there?  Maybe we just need new regulators to regulate the regulators who didn’t regulate last time, huh?

Once again, the choice is between an aristocratic system or a democratic one, and democracy will not be restored by the people who cannot realize that we live under aristocratic rule and condemn it.

Mark A. Adams JD/MBA

Attached is a law review article with further references to the power of the jury to determine the law as well as the facts, but unfortunately, since you cannot imagine empowering normal citizens to control enforcement of the law, I expect that you will continue to ignore the facts, like a typical judge.

For more fun, see http://volokh.com/2010/02/02/judge-jack-weinstein-again-sings-the-praises-of-the-jurys-nullification-power/


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