A Jury’s Secret Power – Nullification

By Alan Chwick & Joanne Eisen

Jury Nullification Jefferson
A Jury's Secret Power
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

New York –-(Ammoland.com)- With Jury Rights Day just around the corner on September 5, it is a good time to reflect upon a Jury's Duty.

Our Founding Fathers, in all their wisdom, gave us a Constitution with layers of safeguards, so that if we erred, we could correct the error, peaceably – without a shot being fired.

One of these very important layers is Jury Nullification. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very strong advocates of Jury Nullification.

They stated:

“It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” (John Adams, America's second President; 1771)

“It would be an absurdity for jurors to be required to accept the judge's view of the law, against their own opinion, judgment, and conscience.” (John Adams)

“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.” (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Paine; 1789)

“The juries [are] our judges of all fact, and of law when they choose it.” (Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval; 1816. ME 15:35)

Even the First Chief Justice of the U.S. John Jay, in 1789, chimed in on this issue with, “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

Lastly, and most succinctly, Alexander Hamilton, in 1804, said that, “Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction… if exercising their judgment with discretion and honesty, they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.”

Jury Rights Day
Jury Rights Day

Simply stated, from the time of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215, and right up to the present, We the People, when in the role as juror, wield immense power over a case's facts and the laws that are in question. The power of the Juror is greater than that of the courtroom judge, the legislators who wrote the law, or even that of the President of the United States. The axe the Jury wields is NULLIFICATION, and the Jurors do not have to obey the courtroom judge. You can not be intimidated by the courtroom, the judge, or the venue.

If punishments are too harsh, if the laws are flawed, or if a government is running rampant over the populace, the juror's power to nullify can easily stand in peaceful opposition. Jury nullification has protected our freedom of speech and even helped to overturned prohibition.

(See Niagara Falls Reporter, “JURY NULLIFICATION HAS LONG HISTORY OF RIGHTING WRONG LAWS”, By Frank Parlato (2012),  http://goo.gl/fk8BXB )

Few people understand Jury Nullification, as it is not taught in school. Grade school teachers, high school teachers, and even college professors neglect to explain exactly why the jury system is so important to our legal system. They neglect to explain why the jury system is even written into the Bill of Rights. They neglect to talk about the powerful feature of Jury Nullification. They neglect to inform jurors that they are not required to follow the judge's directions, or even follow the law.

Because of this pervasive ignorance, the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA; FIJA.org) flyer complains, “Too often, jurors actually end up apologizing to the person they've convicted – or to the community for acquitting when the evidence clearly established guilt.”

On the other side of the coin, the pervasive ignorance, of the jurors, is used by our leaders so that they can more easily manipulate and control us where we are most powerful, thus abating the power of nullification from us.

We, as gun owners, are constantly under siege by a plethora of legal attacks. Whether it be self-defense, stand-your-ground, how many bullets can you carry, what guns are good, what guns are bad, or any other gun issue, we must expend our energies on a multitude of fronts. Yes, there will always be laws created and that are cases brought to court where there is a need for individuals to say, “No, Stop!” And, We the People must learn that we can say “No” without question or punishment. The method…JURY NULLIFICATION.

On closing, I'd like to leave you with the words of U.S. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone on the Juror's Duty:

“If a juror feels that the statute involved in any criminal offence is unfair, or that it infringes upon the defendant's natural God-given unalienable or Constitutional rights, then it is his duty to affirm that the offending statute is really no law at all and that the violation of it is no crime at all, for no one is bound to obey an unjust law.” (Emphasis add) ~ (U.S. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone, 1941-1946)

About the Authors:

Mr. Alan J. Chwick received a B.S. from the State University of New York at Albany in Business Administration and Data Processing, as well as an A.S. from Nassau Community College in Accounting. Alan has been engaged full-time since 1975 in the private sector as an Independent IT & Facilities Consultant in Freeport, New York (The Complete Machine, Inc.). He has been involved with firearms much of his life, and is currently the Managing Coach of the Freeport Junior Club (FJC) at the Freeport NY Revolver & Rifle Association. Alan is extremely active in defending the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights in the political arena in Nassau County and the State of New York. He is responsible, with much aid of attorney Robert Firriolo, for changing the face of field preemption in NYS, with the legal victory against Nassau County (Citation: Chwick v. Mulvey, 81 A.D.3d 161, 915 N.Y.S.2d 578 (2nd Dept. 2010)). Additionally, Alan was a strong voice in changing NYS PL 265.20.7e, to permit 14-20 year-olds to handle a firearm during training. At the Freeport Junior Club, with the help of Coach Edward Botsch and an excellent staff of Range Officers, Alan teaches firearm safety and use, competitive shooting and good sportsmanship to youths aged 5 to 21 years-old.

Dr. Joanne D. Eisen received her B.A. from Queens College, City University of New York, in Chemistry/Biology. She earned her D.D.S. degree from New York University in 1966. Since then, Joanne has been engaged full-time in the private practice of dentistry in Old Bethpage, New York. She has been a long-time advocate and prolific writer in defense of American's constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

The current primary focus of the writers' research is the importance of the Second Amendment to the preservation of our American Constitutional liberties.

To contact the authors:

  • 16 thoughts on “A Jury’s Secret Power – Nullification

    1. Georgia Constitution in its Preamble to Juries
      in the Georgia Code, states—to the best of
      my recollection: “Jury members have the Right
      to Judge the Law and the Facts in a Case.”

      However, you will not find Jury Nullification
      in most Legal Dictionaries. PLUS! Law Schools
      that receive any—ANY—Federal funds cannot have any classes regarding ‘Jury Nullification.’

      What to do? Our horrible, Horrible, HORRIBLE
      Government Public Schools (K-12) besides not
      teaching kids how to do math accurately, read
      with understanding do not allow teachers to
      teach ‘Jury Nullification’ except as a footnote
      to History. SCHOOL CHOICE VIA TAXPAYER FUNDED
      VOUCHERS FOR KIDS TO GO TO PRIVATE OR PAROCHIAL
      SCHOOLS IS THE ANSWER! GEORGIA HAS A PHENOMENOL SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM; BUT, EACH
      BoE has the power to bestow vouchers. ALL of
      Georgia’s local BoE’s are controlled by NEA,
      AFT…Get Control of your local Georgia BoE’s!

      In states where you do not have Taxpayer funded
      voucher laws, Get Crackn’! Pass some Kid friendly laws. The War for Kids minds is in
      K-12 Schools!

    2. Apparently, what needs to be clarified using Jury Nullification is the fact that no matter what instructions the judge gives to the Jury, the Jury still has the Right and Authority to over-ride the Judges instructions, and if they the Jury feels that the law itself is wrong, unlawful, or used in an incorrect manner in a specific case, then the Jury can use Jury Nullification and all vote that the Defendant is “Innocent of all charges”.

      That way the Defendant can walk away without even having the case or charges on his/her criminal record. The Jury has the Right and Authority to not only judge the alleged charges against a person, but the Law itself as well.

    3. What’s missing here is the failure to mention that States also have the power of nullification over Federal Laws…
      And it’s the DUTY of our elected officials to use Nullification to protect the Citizens…
      Question is, how many have the GUTS to invoke nullification…??

    4. Okay where is my post? The law is not longer anyone to trust because t=of the infiltration of those that wish to take out America….they are all sorts of people. When there are Muslims int he military now (check out Langley and the mosque and the demand that soldier shave Islamic training some converting to it in OUR military!!! Judges okaying Islam as a religion; when it is not just that, but a totalitarian governmental system that plans to take over us and the world!! Our idiot government and some judges are letting this happen just because we have one in the Whitehouse! Trust no one period and do as you think in your heart…hopefully you are patriot’s that love America, because we are losing her every day!

    5. Unfortunately, for that juror to do that now requires that he lies to the court in order to get selected for juror duty.
      Want to get out of jury duty? Just tell the truth!

    6. Charlie – you really need to re-read the article.
      Also, you are fully within your rights to tell anyone questioning you that it is your personal private opinion and really none of their business.
      As regards being “the only one” … what goes on in the jury deliberation is NEVER taken outside the deliberation room. At least you might cause a “hung-jury” … at best, you might actually EDUCATE some others as to their Rights and Responsibilities as FREE CITIZENS OF A REPUBLIC.

    7. “…Most Constitutionalists favor the jury system, provided jury nullification (a juror’s right to judge a law as unjust, oppressive, or inapplicable to any particular case) is in force. However, even if jury nullification were restored, juries would still render decisions based upon each jury’s collective standard of morality or immorality. “A jury drawn from the [Biblically] uninstructed population is no better equipped to administer the just requirements of God’s law than a corrupt judge.”35 A jury awarded $2.3 million to Stella Liebeck when she burned herself with McDonald’s coffee, and a jury found O.J. Simpson innocent on all charges. Although it might be argued that it only takes one juror to dissent and prevent a “railroad job,” most people lack the independence and resolution to resist the will of a majority. More often than not, today’s jurors reflect the type of people we are warned against in Exodus 23:

      ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment.’ (Exodus 23:2)

      “Juries produce, at best, erratic justice. Without Yahweh’s law as the standard, jury decisions are based upon the capricious morality of its members….”

      Excerpted from online Chapter 6 “Article 3: Judicial Usurpation” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.”

    8. This sure is not what people on Juries are told, in fact they are told to disreguard certain things you hear, even when it proves the State attorneys are wrong! I have got out of jury duty by telling the judge I didn’t believe most police officers or state attorneys and thought either would lie to convict and if I was chosen for the jury I would voter the way my own brain told me was right, no matter what they said! I was told I could go!

      1. oh, you shied from the second most important duty. first:vote. second, serve on jury. only YOU CAN PREVENT TYRSNY BY PROSECUTION! repent . serve!!!!!

    9. We, the guy in GA, that had 500 rounds at the school, they called an arsenal. I have carried almost 10 times that much into combat, and 500 rounds is a joke to me. He was caught and no one was killed. Where is the news? Quit putting names and pictures out there and these people will go away. There still are no assault weapons on the streets. If their looks scares someone, they need to visit a shrink and get committed. They are the ones who need to be taken off the streets.

    10. The article is interesting, but only that. It does not really explain what needs to be done. Sometimes you will have to lie to get on the jury. You know what I am talking about: when the lawyers ask you questions about being libertarian, or disliking police and government, or being racist, etc… Also, there IS a risk: if you say you disagree with the law you will, at least, be replaced on the jury, and at worst punished for contempt of court. If it is you against most, if not all, the jurors, then you cannot speak of nullification. Your given reason has to do only with the case, not with the law. You will have to say something like: I do not believe the officer’s testimony, or I think the witness is not credible.

    11. Thank you for reminding me of this with your well written piece. I will forward it to my list of people who should know about it!

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