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Jurors can protect people from unjust laws

October 5, 2012
The Leader Herald

We have all heard of the system of checks and balances written into the U.S. Constitution by the Founding Fathers to keep any one branch of government from gaining too much power and influence. What many people do not know is that there is one final check which is left to the people. That check is the right and obligation of the jury to protect the people from unjust laws.

When the Constitution was written, there had already been a long-standing precedent in English common law that the jury had the power to judge both the law and the evidence of a case. The instructions given to the jury in the very first jury trial before the United States Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Jay were: "It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision - you have the right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both and to determine the law as well as the fact in the controversy."

In the case of U.S. vs. Dougherty 1972, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the jury has an "unreviewable and irreversible power - to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge..."

Also in 1804, Samuel Chase, Supreme Court justice and signer of the Declaration of Independence, said, "The jury has the right to judge both the law and the facts."

What all this means is that a single juror has the ability to nullify a law that they find unfair or unconstitutional by casting their vote of not guilty. If a juror feels that a law is contrary to their beliefs or infringes upon another's God-given rights, it is within their rights to refuse to convict the defendant even if they have technically broken the law. In a trial, the decision of the jury must be unanimous in order to convict a defendant. If just one juror refuses to vote guilty, then it is considered a hung jury and the case is dismissed.

It is the duty of all jurors to protect the freedom of all righteous Americans.





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