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Juries Must Learn to Just Say NO

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  • Dan Clore
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Juries Must Learn To Just Say NO By Joel Miller 2003 WorldNetDaily.com 2-8-3 When the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 8, 2003
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      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      Juries Must Learn To Just Say 'NO'
      By Joel Miller
      2003 WorldNetDaily.com 2-8-3

      When the jurors who last week convicted medical-marijuana
      cultivator Ed Rosenthal later expressed disgust with their
      own ruling, I actually yelled at my computer: "Well then why
      didn't you take Nancy Reagan's advice and just say no?"

      The trial was a joke from the start. Because Rosenthal was
      being tried under federal law, not California's, the judge
      forbade any discussion of the Golden State's medical
      marijuana statute or the fact that Rosenthal was growing the
      pot with the special sanction of the city of Oakland. As a
      result, the jury was not allowed to consider any such
      information.

      With no possible defense left, Rosenthal's attorney, Robert
      Eye, made what the Sacramento Bee called "a thinly veiled
      plea for jury nullification."

      "Please do justice," he said. "We don't ask you to check
      your common sense of justice at the door when you judge this
      case. I can only hope there are those of you whose sense of
      justice "

      Jumping on Eye, the judge interrupted and told the jury,
      "It's not your determination whether a law is just or
      unjust. That can't be your task." Going further, according
      to jurywoman Marney Craig, the judge instructed, "You cannot
      substitute your sense of justice for your duty to follow the
      law."

      The judge is wrong.

      "If the jury feels the law is unjust," according to the
      Fourth Circuit in the 1969 case U.S. v. Moylan, "we
      recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even
      if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge,
      and contrary to the evidence. If the jury feels that the law
      under which the defendant is accused is unjust the jury has
      the power to acquit" (emphasis added).

      Some buck at the notion of jury nullification. They see it
      as going against the rule of law - a dozen anarchists
      passing judgment on a whim. Endowed with such power and the
      guilty will walk free because a chili onion supreme didn't
      sit well in the stomach of the jury foreman.

      Perhaps - but the founders didn't see it that way.

      "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet
      imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the
      principles of its constitution," said Thomas Jefferson in a
      1789 letter to Thomas Paine. His comments presuppose laws
      which go above and beyond the national charter (such as drug
      prohibition today) and the jury's vital role in seeing that
      no citizens are harmed by such tyrannical legislation.

      John Adams, the second American president, sang from the
      same hymnal. "It is not only [the juror's] right, but his
      duty," he said in 1771, "to find the verdict according to
      his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though
      in direct opposition to the direction of the court."

      Likewise, in an 1804 libel case, Alexander Hamilton argued
      that "the jury have an undoubted right to give a general
      verdict, which decides both law and fact."

      "This distribution of power, by which the court and jury
      mutually assist, and mutually check each other," Hamilton
      continued, "seems to be the safest, and consequently the
      wisest arrangement, in respect to the trial of crimes. ...
      To judge accurately of motives and intentions, does not
      require a master's skill in the science of law. It depends
      more on a knowledge of the passions, and of the springs of
      human action, and may be the lot of ordinary experience and
      sagacity."

      In other words, the people are deemed sensible enough to
      decide when one of their fellows is getting the shaft from
      an unjust law. This only makes sense. The people are judged
      sensible enough to elect legislators in the first place. If
      things go awry after the ballot box, the jury box provides
      one more place to check and stop the progress of tyranny by
      nullifying bad laws passed by those legislators.

      Far from viewing nullification as a gateway to random
      enforcement of law and anarchy, the founders viewed it as an
      essential tool for combating despotism and preserving
      liberty - one more method of denying absolute power to any
      single man or governing body.

      What is so striking about nullification and the Rosenthal
      case in particular is how applicable the reasoning of the
      founders proves to be. The law violated the consciences of
      the jurors and was unconstitutional, to boot.

      "There is no such thing as medical marijuana," DEA spokesman
      Richard Meyer told the Associated Press. "We're Americans
      first, Californians second."

      In terms of the law, that is unmitigated bull.

      The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government no power
      to prohibit pot. Article 1, Section 8, provides
      congressional marching orders on many tasks - banning weed
      is not one of them. Neither is skirting the 10th Amendment,
      which specifically holds the duties of the government to
      what the Constitution permits; all else is the business of
      the states alone.

      Such is the case with California's medpot law, Prop. 215,
      which permits precisely what Rosenthal was doing.

      By nullifying, the jury would have been fulfilling
      Jefferson's perceived role of the jury, holding the
      government to "the principles of its constitution."

      It's too bad the judge lied to the jury before it found
      Rosenthal guilty. Had they known better, the jurors may have
      felt free to follow their own conscience and sense of
      justice and thus spared an innocent man from a travesty.

      Find out more about the rights and duties of juries at Fully
      Informed Jury Association at:
      http://www.fija.org/

      Joel Miller is managing editor of WND Books.
      Additionally, he runs his own publishing house, Oakdown.

      http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=30946

      --
      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      All my fiction through 2001 and more. Intro by S.T. Joshi.
      http://www.wildsidepress.com/index2.htm
      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1587154838/thedanclorenecro

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