In recent years, many people have fallen victim toJury Rights Day
government tyranny, everything from drug offenses
to tax resisters. Historically, going back to the Magna
Carta, it has been the job of the jury to stand in the
way of government tyranny and judge the law as well
as the case.
Jury nullification was used to deny convictions throughout U.S. history, from the Alien
and Sedition Act to the Fugitive Slave Act and even Alcohol Prohibition, juries said not
guilty, even if the accused was “guilty” of breaking the law in cases where the juries
found the law immoral. The Confederate States of America claimed the use of jury
nullification as one of their causes for secession, so it was obviously a common
practice; and the nullification in cases of alcohol offenses are credited with bringing the
end of alcohol prohibition.
Unfortunately, the justice system has deemed it appropriate to not inform juries that
they have this power, even going as far as to claim that the jury must rule as the law is
given to them. but this is wrong. If you were on a jury and a person of good conscience
you would not have found someone guilty accused of harboring slaves, but we have
forgotten we have this right. It‘s time we understand our rights as juries once again,
and say “not guilty” when we find the law to be immoral, as great Americans once did
in our past.
James Weeks II, vice chair
Libertarian Party of Livingston County