Friday, September 10, 2010

What's Wrong with the Juries?

So, what has happened to the jury system? The Framers adopted the common law jury as something essential to be installed in our Constitution, because they believed that the best safety we had from our government was that liberties could not be taken by government without the say-so of a group of neutral citizens. And those citizens were to be skeptical of their government, which was the real meaning of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and of the burden lying with the government, before liberty could be stolen. And the jury, constitutionally, could adjudge the facts and the law – jury nullification was and is a vital fixture in the firmament of our rights. Of course, judges now, being jealous of becoming irrelevant if the jury makes judgments about the law, will not permit nullification arguments and will shriek that the jury can only assess the facts, not the law. But the jury has the constitutional power to nullify prosecutions by disagreement with the law and with how it is implemented in any particular case, and nothing the judiciary can shriek about such undermines that power. The Framers gave it and the judiciary cannot take it away.

But notwithstanding the importance of the jury in protecting people’s rights, juries increasingly cleave to the government. Juries, during the voir dire process, will claim that they do not believe everything government says, they do not think cops are telling the truth just because they are cops, and they know the defendant is not guilty unless or until they find otherwise, and to the requisite level of proof. However, they smile and nod when a shiny-badged cop says things, and look askance when defense witnesses say things, and forget that the government has an agenda in all cases which could well result in untruths being told. But they just don’t want to believe this cop is lying or shaving the truth; they know it happens elsewhere, but…, oh, just not here!

Wow, we are tossing into the ash can one of the great constitutional protections we have, and we are thereby dissolving into just another banana republic police state. We weep when we muse that our boys and girls are dying in distant lands to protect our rights here, but we are utterly oblivious to the rights they are dying for, and while they protect them over there, we tear them up over here.
Every time a juror blindly believes their beloved cops, or the government position, against contradictory evidence [or even without contradictory evidence!], they sully the memories of the founding fathers who long ago died for us here, and of the young kids who are still doing so over there. For shame, for shame.

First they came for the murderers, with insufficient evidence, and I did not vote not guilty, because I was not a murderer.

Then they came for the kidnappers, with insufficient evidence, and I did not vote not guilty, because I was not a kidnapper.

Then they came for the drunk drivers, with insufficient evidence, and I did not vote not guilty, because I was not a drunk driver.

Then they came for me, with insufficient evidence, and there was no one left with courage to vote not guilty.

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