Also see: Fully Informed Jury Association – FIJA.org
In Wood’s new and excellent book on Nullification, much is written about the use of nullification at the state level of government against the federal level of government, but less attention is given nullification by the individual juror. Yet, the essence of justice is that human rights and conscience exist and can be exercised only at an individual level. There is no “collective right” just as there is no “collective conscience.”
While the perceived collective political community may embark on collective political posturing for myriad reasons, it is only at the individual level that the elegance of the independent juror, capable of raising a standard of justice in anticipation of the coming tides in the affairs of men, that we observe the prescient nature of the individual human conscience in steering the ship of state through troubled waters.
Throughout human history, we have moved from slavery toward the recognition of the unique rights and self-ownership of each individual human. With this journey has come the recognition of the evils of collectivist thinking at all levels of consideration. When we finally accept––as a cultural necessity––the inherent value and rights of each individual human, and when there are free markets and voluntary associations, we will still have need of juries to consider, to weigh, and to decide, what is justice and what is not.
In fact, one can readily thumb through history and find instances of brilliant juror nullification: cases in which the jurors anticipated later-recognized human rights; cases in which jurors raised the standard of justice to new heights. A recent reviewcarefully points up shifting sentiment toward nullification. At almost every instance within this excellent article, one could substitute the concept of the individual juror for the concept of the collective state government, and in that substitution, find the essence of the concept of the jury of 12 jurors: of self-determination on an individual level, as each juror accepts the authority to judge the law as well as the fact, based on individual sense of conscience, justice, and compassion.
Investigation of instances of failure of the jury reveal that such instances can be attributed more to government employees’ political jury stacking than to jury malfunction. In many instances, racism, sexism, or other factors kept juries from being truly representative of all those connected to the case.
(The economic implications are clear: re-open justice to the vote of the free market: let the people, as should be represented by the jury in every criminal case, determine those laws considered economically viable for enforcement. We might soon see only one law: no initiation of force or fraud for any reason whatsoever.)
Let the jurors act on individual motivation, and let bad laws fall before the conscientious, informed jurors who understand that they have the authority to judge the law as well as the facts, and that it must be their personal sense of justice which compels their individual verdict. Let there be no distinction of the right to nullify bad laws, whether at the state level or at the individual level, where one juror, acting independently in good conscience, has the same right to nullify as any government body.
The jury is one of the smallest, and therefore most significant, of duly constituted bodies involved in the application of laws and the mechanisms of justice. The elegance of 12 jurors has been examined from a mathematical perspective, found as Appendix I in Vin Suprynowicz’s brilliant Send in the Waco Killers, which I imagine you have all read. Read the Appendix I again. You will be enlightened about the role of the individual juror in serving as an essential and mathematically significant check on government employees’ tyranny and attempted usurpation of human rights.
“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,” a Virginia lawyer wrote … His name was Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson clearly understood that while self-serving government employees at every level would exceed their authority given any opportunity, they could be denied that opportunity by the people who would comprise the jury, who would refuse to enforce usurpations of individual human rights. Jefferson also understood the “anchor” metaphor, and chose it above the “cannon” metaphor, because the jury is a peaceful, necessary restraint to keep the ship of state steady and safe in serving its purpose: the protection of individual human rights. Jurors hold the authority and the ability to enforce the limits of the Constitution by refusing to enforce government employees’ attempts to violate Constitutional boundaries.
Find out more by visiting the Fully Informed Jury Association. You will want to stay for a bit and read up on one of the least-known rights in our Common Law country. It is a right, that when known, effectively can save us––through peaceful means––from the war the government has declared and is making against its own people, not so different from those wars against the people that inspired the Magna Carta.
It is the independent, secular, non-partisan juror who stands as the Fourth Branch of Government, capable of placing a veto on bad laws by refusing to enforce them at the behest of self-interested government employees, whether at the federal, state, or local level. After all, conscientious nullification resides, in the final analysis, in the independent mind of the thinking individual.
15 July 2010