Opinion by Alan Chwick & Joanne D Eisen
U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- In this unstable, riotous time, and with Jury Rights Day approaching on September 5, we need to remember the value of the entire Bill of Rights. Each amendment is unique, but it is the Seventh Amendment which gives U.S. citizens Jury Power, which indisputably proves us as sovereigns.
We often forget about the Seventh Amendment because we use it so rarely. The fact remains that each one of us, in the jury room, has the right to decide what the outcome of the trial is to be, no matter what the judge, the prosecution, or the written law says. Every juror who goes into the jury room has the Constitutional right and power to nullify a law in question. The juror can decide if the law has been applied properly, and even if the law is just. Each and every juror can help change the path of an individual life, and the path that society follows.
However, you will not hear this information from a judge. The judge will instruct you to obey their jury instructions. And the defense attorney has often been muzzled, and may not tell the jury about their power of nullification. For you see, the judiciary guards its power.
Jefferson warned us in 1820 about the dangers of judicial power, “ The Judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.”
At today’s point in our country, it is obvious to most of us that our judicial system is shockingly biased. Chief Justice John Roberts even objected to President Trump's observation of this pattern of bias.
You decide for yourself.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge of the jury power of nullification is very important. But powerful people want you to forget about this gift from our Founders. We must teach it, whether or not we are in a position to use it. Spreading the truth is never harmful and is always beneficial.
WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES need this power, especially at this point in our history, as it seems that our country cannot agree on the differences between a ‘peaceful protest’ and a violent one, between justice and injustice, and between morality and immorality. The lines have been blurred.
WE THE JURORS OF THE UNITED STATES must understand that we are the ones who ultimately make the decisions. It is not the job of biased politicians and judges to decide. We cannot permit them to [ab]use the law, and to shove their destructive ideas any further down our throats.
The issues, and/or problems, will be coming to a courthouse near you if any of our courthouses survive the mostly ‘peaceful protests.' It will be up to you to hunt through the facts and laws, to decide who is lying, and to find what justice is best.
Over thirty million U.S. Citizens per year are called to jury duty, according to FindLaw.
You might be one of them, and you need to know your jury rights and duties before you get there.
Perhaps you might find yourself in the case of Mickey and Minnie McCloskey, a Missouri couple, who protected their property from ‘peaceful protesters,’ with firearms. Luckily, no shots were fired, but the McCloskeys claimed that they feared violence from the several hundred protesters. The ‘peaceful protesters' were on private property, after having broken through a locked fence.
In Missouri, there is a law against brandishing a weapon and trespassing is not an acceptable justification for using deadly force. However, Missouri has both Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws, which might trump brandishing restrictions. The judge’s instructions tell you to follow the law, and off you go into the jury room. But wait! Let us change this thought experiment just a bit and move the McCloskeys to New York State. The case is identical, except New York State has no Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground laws. The judge’s instructions tell you to follow the law. And like before, off you go to the jury room.
Do you obey the judge’s instructions? Does your decision depend on the location of the event? Can you discern the facts well enough to decide which people were violent?
You, alone, get to decide the McCloskey's future. Will it be jail or freedom? It does not matter if you are the only juror to notice a problem, and the location of the event should not matter. The rest of the jury and the judge cannot control your decision anywhere in this country. You decide if the mice live happily ever after, or not.
You, as a juror, must make a very serious social decision. Should a possibly crazed, power-hungry, prosecutor be permitted to abuse the populous? Were the McCloskeys justified in using self-defense?
Before you answer, here is some historical insight: In the past, many other juries have decided such important questions. During prohibition in the 1930s, after the Eighteenth Amendment was passed, “many juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of violating alcohol control laws,” hence leading up to the Eighteenth Amendment repeal.
Would you nullify New York State’s laws against brandishing, and find the McCloskeys not guilty, regardless of the judge’s instructions?
We must guard the Seventh Amendment, and the entire Bill of Rights, as strongly as we can.
So teach it – use it or lose it.
A Closing Thought:
JUSTICE HUGO BLACK, (Assoc. Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1937-1971)
A great believer in the Jury system used to tell this story:
Years ago, in the foot-hills of Alabama, a tenant-farmer was charged criminally with stealing a cow from his landlord, and was brought to trial. As was frequently the case in rural America, the Jurors selected for the trial were acquainted with everyone, including the accused and his victim. Each juror knew that the farm's landlord was a nasty bastard who tormented his neighbors, while frequently treating the town's orphans and widows with derision. By the same token, the tenant-farmer was the salt of the earth, beloved by everyone. But still, the evidence of his guilt was indisputable.
After the evidence was in and the jury retired to deliberate, it quickly returned to the courtroom to announce its verdict: “If the accused returns the cow, we find him not guilty”
The judge was infuriated. His anger heightening, he commanded the jury to return to the jury room to deliberate–shrilly chastising them for their flagrantly “arrogant” and “illegal” verdict.
Not a moment passed when they re-appeared in the tense courtroom to trumpet their new verdict: “We find the accused not guilty–and he can keep the cow.”
The American Jury, Justice Black reminds his listeners, is effectively omnipotent in rendering an acquittal. What hits home in Justice Black's story is the deeply-held American notion that juries often perform an independent role in a system in which the people – not prosecutors, judges or lawyers – have the last word. In the end, if the jury wishes to let the defendant keep the cow, that is what will happen (Emphasis added).
About The Authors
Alan J Chwick has been involved with firearms much of his life and is the Retired Managing Coach of the Freeport NY Junior Marksmanship Club. He has escaped from New York State to South Carolina and is an SC FFL (Everything22andMore.com). [email protected] | TWITTER: @iNCNF
Joanne D Eisen, DDS (Ret.) practiced dentistry on Long Island, NY. She has collaborated and written on firearm politics for the past 30+ years. She has also escaped New York State but to Virginia. [email protected]