Tuesday, May 04, 2004

In defense of Jury Nullification

One of the problems with our primary education system in this nation is that it fails, in toto, to educate the electorate about its rights, responsibilities and duties to the body politic. One of the most important powers we have over our government is a concept known as ‘Jury Nullification’ As described by John Adams:

"It is not only his 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."

Why is Jury Nullification so important? Well, there are times when the Jury is the last bastion of judicial restraint. When our nation was founded, it was considered standard procedure for either the judge or the defense to inform the jury of their duties to consider not only the innocence or guilt of the defendant, but also the just nature of the law itself.

In this article by Phil Sham, the case of Richard Paey presents a clear case of the problems of ‘mandatory minimum sentencing’, and a jury obeying the dictate to ‘just consider the facts’. I would put it to the citizens of our nation that since all laws exist at the consent of the governed, we the people exist as the final arbiter of the just nature of said laws. And if an individual like Richard Paey is convicted for drug trafficking then not only has our legal system failed, but we have failed a fellow citizen.

Shame on us for not exonerating Richard Paey. Even worse, shame on us for not being aware of our ability and duty to do so.


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