Livingston County Michigan Libertarians

A Party of Principle

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  • Don’t forget jury’s power to rule on moral grounds

    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

    Educating the public about jury nullification

    Ellie Krieg wrote an extensive research paper regarding jury nullification.

    Ellie Krieg wrote an extensive research paper regarding jury nullification.

    Did you know that a jury is allowed to follow their consciences, even if that means that the final decision does not follow the law or the judge’s instructions? A jury’s right to nullify is something that is not taught in our schools. In fact, most citizens are unaware of this power.Ellie Krieg, my daughter, recently wrote a detailed research paper about a jury’s right to nullify.

    She wrote this paper for her senior-level legal studies course at Grand Valley State University and received an “A” from one of the toughest teachers in the program!

    In this paper, Krieg discusses the story of University of Michigan student Jeffrey Pyne being convicted of murdering his mentally ill mother. She maintains that the outcome of the case may have been different if the jury was informed of their right to nullify. She quotes legal television personality Nancy Grace, who predicted that the jury would in fact nullify the Pyne verdict.

    In addition to reviewing the laws, precedence, and pros and cons regarding jury nullification, Krieg also argues that our laws support the fact that a jury should be instructed about their rights to follow their consciences.

    “Jury instructions, and whether or not they inform jurors of the right to nullify, can have an interesting effect on the outcome of verdicts, and therefore, it is an important topic to address,” she states.

    “By allowing jury nullification, the court is placing a higher emphasis on morality rather than the strict following of the law, and if the court allows nullification, it certainly ought to inform jurors of this.”

    See the entire research paper on jury nullification.

    Livingston Libertarians plan morning of jury nullification education

    The Livingston Libertarians will educate the public about jury nullification this Monday, June 10th from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm or until the material runs out.

    Anyone is welcome to help pass out information at the Livingston County 53rd District Court at 204 S. Highlander Way in Howell.

    Photo from jury nullification Facebook page.

    Photo from jury nullification Facebook page

    Jury nullification is the constitutional right of Americans serving on a jury to follow their consciences, even if that means that the final decision does not follow the law or the judge’s instructions.

    Many Americans are unaware of their important right of jury nullification, as it is usually not taught in our schools.

    For more information, see Educating the public about a jury’s right to nullify