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  #1  
Old 03-23-2011, 07:43 PM
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Default 1st time jury duty.

I was on jury duty for the first time in my life today. The case was over with today, a one day trial. I got to be the jury foreman. Not afraid to speak, so they chose me.

I think if I had not been present, an innocent kid (25 years old) would have been convicted over something totally stupid and not his fault. I think my presence definitely made a difference. Some of the jurors were not overly outspoken nor educated. Scares me to think my fate could possibly be in the hands of some people. No matter how much the jury is admonished to just consider the testimony and points of law, the situation gets "what if'd to death". I have no doubt that the defendant would have been convicted because too many people who did not focus on the facts and the testimony could have been led or swayed just for convenience sake.

Several "no shows" who were arrested and admonishid by the judge for not showing up for jury selection.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:54 PM
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Sounds like the atty’s doing the voir dire process did not do their jobs very well----- or maybe they did a very good job. Kind of hard to tell if you don’t see the full process or know all the facts or what system your locality uses. I'm thinking the atty's on the forum will chime in soon enough.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:04 PM
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Thanks for doing it right and being concerned about the weighty issues before you.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:39 PM
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Go here..... Fully Informed Jury Association

Your Rights and responsibilities as a juror. Judges and prosecutors hate to see jurors armed with this info. I wonder why.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:46 PM
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Thanks for taking it seriously. Some people would have gone with the majority just to get it over with.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) allot of people don't have the life experience to understand that just because someone has been arrested, it doesn't mean that they are guilty.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:00 PM
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Go here..... Fully Informed Jury Association

Your Rights and responsibilities as a juror. Judges and prosecutors hate to see jurors armed with this info. I wonder why.
I'm a big proponent of jury nullification. I've argued for years that it should be told to every jury - otherwise we have unequal justice between defendants with a jury that is aware of the ability to exercise jury nullification and defendants with a jury that is unaware of that prerogative.

BUT I can't go along with the misleading and unlawful suggestions of the FIJA.

First, many of their brochures fail to inform people that the exercise of jury nullification is the emasculation of the law. instead, they suggest that one is merely enforcing the law by nullifying it. Jurors need to know that they can emasculate the law, but they also need to understand exactly what they are doing so as not to take it lightly.

Second, their suggestion that prospective jurors lie to get on a jury to exercise jury nullification is abhorrent.

Third, they don't adequately warn jurors of the risk of exercising jury nullification. You can be prosecuted for violating you oath as a juror if you brag about it. Our traditions allow a jury to acquit for "any reason or for no reason" without being compelled to specify the reason. But once a juror opens his or her mouth all bets are off. If you ever exercise jury nullification then when asked for the reason you acquitted simply say "no comment."
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:17 PM
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I've served on a jury exactly once. There were two jury trials scheduled the week I was called. One case was for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. The other case was for 84 counts if gross sexual contact with a minor. Guess which case I wanted, guess which case I was put on.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:31 PM
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Well done. It's heartwarming when somebody listens and takes their oath seriously. Believe me, experienced jurists and lawyers appreciate it (although they're not allowed to phone you up afterwards and tell you).
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:06 PM
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Default Jury Duty

Been "called" three times. For some reason ended up the foreman all three times. Perhaps my bovine countenance.

Besides voting, I think this is the most important obligation you have as a citizen!

Thank you for doing your duty as you saw it!!
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:13 PM
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I've served on a jury exactly once. There were two jury trials scheduled the week I was called. One case was for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. The other case was for 84 counts if gross sexual contact with a minor. Guess which case I wanted, guess which case I was put on.

Guessing that you got the firearms case. How was the gun alledgedly mishandled? Accidental discharge?

Can you mention the outcome?

T-Star
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:32 PM
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I was called several times before I was actually chosen to sit on a jury. It was a medical malpractice case. I found it to be one of the best experiences of my life. It was great to see the inner working of the court system. When we went to the jury room for deliberations, I suggested that we could vote to choose a foreman, or if no one else wanted the job I would take it. So I got to be foreman. I really wish I could do it again.

I am fortunate in that the company I work for, pays you when you are out on jury duty. Several of the other jurors were self employed or worked for companies that did not pay them while they were away from work. Those seemed to be the people who resented being called for jury duty.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:11 AM
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People that advocate jury "nullification," while often well-intentioned, sometimes don't realize that what they are really advocating is lawlessness and something that is actually contrary to the principles upon which our country was founded. Do we really want to live in a society in which jurors can simply choose to ignore laws that they don't agree with? Why have a legislature at all? And if I can choose to acquit because I don't like the law, what's to keep me from convicting an innocent person because I don't like what he did, even if not a violation of the law? It is NOT the job of the jury to veto legislation. It's the job of the jury to determine the facts from the evidence and to apply the law to those facts in determining whether the govnerment (executive branch) has met its burden of proof. Nullification is the process by which Klan members were acquitted of lynching blacks despite overwhelming evidence of guilt. Not something I can support.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:35 AM
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The fact remains as it was put to me years agone and my dad was quoting someone from his youth. The prosecutor wants to win the case, the defense wants to win the case, the Judge wants to get to the next case, only the Jury decides right and wrong.

We have "Gun Crimes" laws in Florida, with long minimum sentences, this has led to some abominations that the jury should have nullified, but did not.

Geoff
Who does not make statements prejudicing his position.
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:53 AM
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Thanks for serving and taking the responsibility seriously.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:06 AM
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I've been called for jury once, for a murder trial, Sept. '99.

I ended being the JF. Once the trial went to the jury, we went around the room for every witness and discussed what we heard them say. It never failed that all of us at one time or other missed something important. As JF, I was always last to speak.

The case came down to forensics and one witness. The prosecutor had two witnesses (outside the professionals), and one turned on him on the stand. It was very interesting to watch this person "fall apart like a cheap watch" as my uncle used to say. Since they had a recording of a discusion when he was in the hospital (he was wounded during the murder), his credibility on the stand was zero.

The murderer ditched the gun but didn't change his pants. They found blood spray that matched the victim. We convicted him after a day and a half and we only voted once - I refused to allow them to vote until we had gone around the room on all witnesses.

I'll never forget the name of the murderer - Clifford Steiger, but I can't for the life of me recall the name of the victim.

Steiger's probably out by now, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for 2nd degree murder; but with good behaviour he's probably out by now.

As soon as we rendered our verdict and went back into the jury room, the homicide detective came into the room and told us that we didn't know what we had done: Steiger had killed is first victim at 17 (he was in his early 30's then) and they had been trying to get him for murder for over 10 years.

I'm also convinced that the defense attorney threw the case - I could have defended that guy better than he did. For one, he let an engineer on the jury (me) plus an NRA life member (also me). When it came down to understanding how the kill shot (contact shot) worked with what gun, I was able to better explain it in the jury when we could discuss it. I was also able to explain the one hour DNA testimony by one of the prosecutor's witnesses. Once you get past all the mumbo-jumbo, it's not hard.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:49 AM
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You did good forcing the deliberations. I was on one where a guy was doing something while watching two young women sunbath by the river on some holiday (no mre details allowed). A woman in the military walking by was a witness. It was pretty cut and dry. But in the jury room I was at the head of the table, don't remember if I was the foreman, and we started around the table on one side, everyone saying guilty. It came to me and I said, "Now wait a minute..." And I was hit with eleven dirty shocked looks. I said, "Look. I'm not saying I necassarly disagree with you but I want you each to say out loud WHY you think he's guilty. This has a big impact on this guy's life and he deserves that we at least discuss it." Well, they mellowed out and we discussed it for an hour or less and found him guilty. I felt good but almost felt like Henry Fonda in Ten Angry Men for a minute there.
Personally, I hate being on a jury but I do it.

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Old 03-24-2011, 08:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Star View Post
Guessing that you got the firearms case. How was the gun alledgedly mishandled? Accidental discharge?

Can you mention the outcome?

T-Star
No, I got the gross sexual imposition case which took two weeks. I wanted the firearms case.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Skeptic 9c View Post
The fact remains as it was put to me years agone and my dad was quoting someone from his youth. The prosecutor wants to win the case, the defense wants to win the case, the Judge wants to get to the next case, only the Jury decides right and wrong.

Geoff
Who does not make statements prejudicing his position.
WOW-that's a slap in the face.......Guilty as charged

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You did good forcing the deliberations. I was on one where a guy was doing something while watching two young women sunbath by the river on some holiday (no mre details allowed). A woman in the military walking by was a witness. It was pretty cut and dry. But in the jury room I was at the head of the table, don't remember if I was the foreman, and we started around the table on one side, everyone saying guilty. It came to me and I said, "Now wait a minute..." And I was hit with eleven dirty shocked looks. I said, "Look. I'm not disagreeing with you but I want you each to say out loud WHY you think he's guilty. This has a big impact on this guy's life and he deserves that we at least discuss it." Well, they mellowed out and we discussed it for an hour or less and found him guilty. I felt good but almost felt like Henry Fonda in Ten Angry Men for a minute there.
Personally, I hate being on a jury but I do it.
That's why they call it Jury Duty. It's not supposed to be fun.

Everyone who serves on a jury has my everlasting gratitude for without you we have no justice system.

Everyone who lies to get on a jury to pursue their own agenda (we call those stealth jurors) has my undying emnity for that is akin to anarchy in my opinion.

I echo Erics comments-Thanks for serving and thanks for doing it the way it's supposed to be done. Wyatt that goes especially for you.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:39 AM
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People that advocate jury "nullification," while often well-intentioned, sometimes don't realize that what they are really advocating is lawlessness and something that is actually contrary to the principles upon which our country was founded. Do we really want to live in a society in which jurors can simply choose to ignore laws that they don't agree with? Why have a legislature at all?
Jury nullification is a very important part of our jurisprudence, exemplified by the Peter Zenger case. The "King" has discretion about which laws it will enforce and which people it will prosecute. Our tradition of jury nullification lets the "People" rebuke the "King."

If I had to choose between the right to vote and the right to a Jury trial, I'd keep the right to a jury a trial.

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And if I can choose to acquit because I don't like the law, what's to keep me from convicting an innocent person because I don't like what he did, even if not a violation of the law?
A jury can acquit for any reason or no reason, but a jury can only convict in accordance with the law. Jury nullification simply doesn't apply to a conviction.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:58 AM
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WOW-that's a slap in the face.......Guilty as charged


That's why they call it Jury Duty. It's not supposed to be fun.

Everyone who serves on a jury has my everlasting gratitude for without you we have no justice system.

Everyone who lies to get on a jury to pursue their own agenda (we call those stealth jurors) has my undying emnity for that is akin to anarchy in my opinion.

I echo Erics comments-Thanks for serving and thanks for doing it the way it's supposed to be done. Wyatt that goes especially for you.
CL, there's was also an Andy Griffith episode, one of the color ones, where Aun't Bea was the sole hold out on the jury. And Why? Because the young Jack Nicholson just, "..looks lik such a nice boy." according to her. I won't spoil the ending. I'm sure Andy Griffith on the forum here saw it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCkrpdmDa5s

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Old 03-24-2011, 11:20 AM
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Summoned many times but have as of yet to serve. Maybe early next month when I'm being called in again.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:47 AM
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You can buy a CD of a trial. I have a acquaintance that just went through a lengthy trial that I couldnt attend. I think it was $10s. The sound isnt the best but you can hear all the court proceedures and testimoneys, run it back and forth etc. It`s quite a learning experiance!
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:54 AM
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A jury can acquit for any reason or no reason, but a jury can only convict in accordance with the law. Jury nullification simply doesn't apply to a conviction.
Not really. As practical matter, jurors can do anything they want for any reason they want, insofar as the court is generally prohibited from inquiring into the reasons for their verdicts. However, there is an important difference between having the power to ignore the law and having the authority to do so. There simply is no legal authority for jury nullification. That's why jurors are instructed that they are to follow the law whether they agree with it or not, and if convinced that the government has met its burden of proof, they must return a verdict of guilty, just as they must return a verdict of not guilty if the government fails to meet that burden.

The remedies for "unjust" laws are (1) challenge the consitutionality of the law or (2) repeal the law through the legislative process. The remedy for overzealous prosecution is the election of a different prosecutor.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:16 PM
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I've been called 2 times, and was in the pool for 2 six week periods. One a fairly long murder trial, the other a personal injury case. Both of them took 2 full weeks. Then several other short trials.

I live in Kentucky, and we're all supposed to be stupid here. I was honored to serve with the folks. Every one of them took it seriously. Almost all participated in the discussions. Those that didn't were just shy.

I made some friends in the process, too. When you're locked up with other folks for 2 full weeks, you become friends.

One of our shorter cases was a date rape. What shocked me most was the way the middle aged women reacted. They were actually the most lenient. Each had sons and were worried that some girl could just accuse them of the same thing. And the men (I was in my early 40s at the time) were the most hard nosed. It was a real eyeopener for me.

There was no question in my mind about anything we did. On a couple of the cases we spent more time in deliberations than I thought we would. In the 2 cases where I was a jury foreman, I insisted on taking our time. Besides, the Judge had to buy us supper when we ran overtime! But he took it well. He also bought us donuts each morning. NO question we all voted for him the next cycle. We were cheap and easy.

And it changed my views of people, permanently. We actually had a police officer we felt was lying. You've got to keep it to yourself until you're given the case. One of the most amusing parts was comparing how you felt about somebody's testimony and what everyone else felt. It was gratifying to learn others felt the same thing. And I learned that punk kids who dress stylishly (for them) don't do themselves any favors when facing a jury. Not just the older folks, even the young women in their 20s aren't impressed.

The most amusing was our auto accident case. The fat chick (not a particularly sympathetic plaintiff) had been injured in a wreck. She got tail ended, and not her fault. But she also wanted to retire on the poor guy and his insurance company. She wasted 2 full days of our time bellyaching about how she couldn't cook so they went out every night (yes, she kept the receipts, and expected to be reimbursed). But the best part of the entire trial came after lunch on the 2nd day.

She waddled up to take the stand, wearing a women's pants suit. As she was sitting down she brushed the coat portion down. The girl sitting next to me and I both gasped out loud! I guess its a no-no in the court room. Everyone looked, we both turned red. No one else knew what we'd seen. This chick had spent the better part of 2 full days complaining and telling us she couldn't make it through even a few hours without her Tens unit hooked up. She'd made a big deal about the cost of the electrode pads and what not. But when she sat down, all the leads were unplugged and hanging!!

So we made fools of ourselves with the gasp. It was a long 2 hours until the judge called a recess. The jury room was at the end of a hall behind the courtroom. As we shuffled out, the Judge was waiting for us in the hall. The bailiff took the other 11 (2 were alternates) and put them in the break room. The Judge took us! uh-oh. But he was pleasant and nice. He said he didn't know what we'd seen or thought we'd seen. But we were to do 2 things. First, keep it to ourselves until we got the case. Then he wanted to know, too!

When we were reunited with the others, it was kind of tense. But we had to keep our little secret. A couple of days later we were given our instructions. Everybody wanted to know then. Because our gasp was in unison and not rehearsed in any way, it was a shocker for everybody else. We had nothing to gain or lose by telling them what we'd seen. And we spent the better part of an hour discussing that before anything else.

It doesn't matter what sequence you discuss the case.

What we did talk about was how the girls lawyer had done a spectacular job of setting us up. He had us lead right down the path of believing his line about her needed the unit. But we saw first hand how she could easily testify for 2 full hours and not even look uncomfortable. And from that point on, we just figured most of what she said was BS.

But we were also in kind of a jam. The wreck was clearly the other guys fault. It was a wet street and he did hit her. Skidded on wet pavement. We did award her some damages. Like $20,000 instead of the $2 million she was asking.

And we kind of dreaded visiting with the judge after the case. Everyone apparently wanted to know what we'd gasped at, not just the jurors and judge. We had no qualms about telling the judge. We kind of felt like he was one of us. I guess it was the morning donut bribes. He listened and asked if we were sure. But it was so spontaneous he knew we'd seen something. His only comment was "she sure screwed that one up." He thanked us, asked how the other jurors had responded, then sent us on our way. Saying he wasn't going to tell the lawyers, and it was up to us if we did. We didn't. We'd agreed to that in the deliberations. Just too much drama to continue.

The rule was that jurors pay attention. Sometimes to every little thing they see or hear. I have no idea how well lawyers prep their clients. I'm guessing the better lawyers do a better job of it. Everything a witness does is viewed. Jurors want to believe everything, but don't give them a reason not to.

That case was back in 1988. About 3 or 4 years ago I saw the same female juror on the street. I asked her if her wires were plugged in. She broke up laughing and said she checks them constantly! Her husband and my wife didn't have a clue. I had to tell my wife, and I guess she told her hubby, too.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:32 PM
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Not really. As practical matter, jurors can do anything they want for any reason they want, insofar as the court is generally prohibited from inquiring into the reasons for their verdicts. However, there is an important difference between having the power to ignore the law and having the authority to do so. There simply is no legal authority for jury nullification. That's why jurors are instructed that they are to follow the law whether they agree with it or not, and if convinced that the government has met its burden of proof, they must return a verdict of guilty, just as they must return a verdict of not guilty if the government fails to meet that burden.

The remedies for "unjust" laws are (1) challenge the consitutionality of the law or (2) repeal the law through the legislative process. The remedy for overzealous prosecution is the election of a different prosecutor.
In Marbury vs. Madison, the Supreme Court decided, all on its own, with no authority from the Constitution, and no precedent that I know of, that it would decide on the Constitutionality of laws, and rule accordingly. It has done so ever since.

Juries have the power to act similarly, and I note that the Constitution guaranteed a jury trial for most criminal cases of consequence, even though the Zenger case predated the Constitution. You may certainly deny that that constitutes authority, but it hints at it at least as strongly as it does for authority of the Supreme Court to overrrule law.

Of course, juries can go further than that, and sometimes have done so wrongly. The same can be said for the Supreme Court.

In the end, while I feel that you have a good argument, there is both at least some hint of Constitutional authority, and (as could perhaps be argued for the Supreme Court) what some consider a duty to rule in the favor of justice.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:56 PM
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That's why there are 12 people on a jury, so hopefully, one won't dominate the decision.

I don't know why they ever called me for jury duty. The first question was always, have you ever been in law enforcement, or are you related to anyone who is or has been? I was the first to go.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:32 PM
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Model520Fan,

I figured someone would bring up Marbury. I will concede that your argument is the about the best one in favor of a legitimate basis for nullification. I simply remain unpersuaded.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:57 PM
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I have been called twice and twice ended up as the foreman. The two things I learned:
(1) If I'm ever put on trial and did what I'm accused of I want a jury - I firmly believe that half of the jurors do not have a brain in their head and can be persuaded. These are the ones who serve because they either can't get out of it or they have nothing better to do. Some of the questions and comments uttered during deliberations made me think these people had been viewing a totally different trial than the rest of us.
(2) If I'm innocent I want a judge - odds are he or she has a reasonable degree of intelligence..
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:58 PM
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Not really. As practical matter, jurors can do anything they want for any reason they want, insofar as the court is generally prohibited from inquiring into the reasons for their verdicts. However, there is an important difference between having the power to ignore the law and having the authority to do so. There simply is no legal authority for jury nullification. That's why jurors are instructed that they are to follow the law whether they agree with it or not, and if convinced that the government has met its burden of proof, they must return a verdict of guilty, just as they must return a verdict of not guilty if the government fails to meet that burden.

The remedies for "unjust" laws are (1) challenge the consitutionality of the law or (2) repeal the law through the legislative process. The remedy for overzealous prosecution is the election of a different prosecutor.
Again, you need to read the Peter Zenger case and its importance in our history of jurisprudence. Jury Nullification is a well recognized tradition in our system.

You are misguided about a jury's ability to convict.

Many judges will allow a jury to address a criminal charge even though the judge believes the government has failed to prove its case. There are many reasons for doing so, but if the jury comes back with a conviction contrary to a judge's opinion of the proper decision, the judge can and will enter a directed verdict (or in some jurisdictions, a verdict not withstanding the jury's verdict.)

A judge can do that in the case of a conviction by a jury for what he or she believes is an improper conviction. A judge can do that because a jury can only convict in accordance with law.

But a judge cannot enter a directed verdict for conviction over a jury's acquittal. That is the essence of the Zenger case tradition of jury nullification, and it is sanctioned in our system because a jury can acquit for "any reason or no reason" despite what the judge might think.

I understand and respect that you don't think it should be that way. But that is a different issue the one about the way things are.
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:04 AM
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The remedies for "unjust" laws are (1) challenge the consitutionality of the law or (2) repeal the law through the legislative process. The remedy for overzealous prosecution is the election of a different prosecutor.
Which would not help the poor schmuck who will dance Danny Deever if convicted in the case at hand.

Geoff
Who is a strong advocate of jury responsibility.
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:07 AM
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(2) If I'm innocent I want a judge - odds are he or she has a reasonable degree of intelligence..
Naw, Democrats get elected all over the country.

Geoff
Who notes some places insist on Judges not stating a party affiliation...
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:07 PM
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Everybody needs to be on a jury.......otherwise you might miss something like this
Convicted killer tells jury he wants to kill them, shows no remorse for Marrero murdertrial | NOLA.com
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Old 03-26-2011, 08:10 AM
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Everybody needs to be on a jury.......otherwise you might miss something like this
Convicted killer tells jury he wants to kill them, shows no remorse for Marrero murdertrial | NOLA.com
Hummmm. Pity about the firearms restrictions in court houses. If the jury would have responded by drawing and firing against the stated threat, it would have saved the taxpayers money.

Geoff
Who wouldn't be terribly displeased if the defense team failed to duck...but I don't like folks who take sides for money...I'm not sophisticated enough, I guess, or watched too many idealized lawyer shows in my misspent youth.
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Old 03-26-2011, 04:13 PM
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Hummmm. Pity about the firearms restrictions in court houses. If the jury would have responded by drawing and firing against the stated threat, it would have saved the taxpayers money.

Geoff
Who wouldn't be terribly displeased if the defense team failed to duck...but I don't like folks who take sides for money...I'm not sophisticated enough, I guess, or watched too many idealized lawyer shows in my misspent youth.
Everybody takes a side for money-not just lawyers
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Old 03-26-2011, 04:31 PM
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Again, you need to read the Peter Zenger case and its importance in our history of jurisprudence. Jury Nullification is a well recognized tradition in our system.

You are misguided about a jury's ability to convict.

Many judges will allow a jury to address a criminal charge even though the judge believes the government has failed to prove its case. There are many reasons for doing so, but if the jury comes back with a conviction contrary to a judge's opinion of the proper decision, the judge can and will enter a directed verdict (or in some jurisdictions, a verdict not withstanding the jury's verdict.)

A judge can do that in the case of a conviction by a jury for what he or she believes is an improper conviction. A judge can do that because a jury can only convict in accordance with law.

But a judge cannot enter a directed verdict for conviction over a jury's acquittal. That is the essence of the Zenger case tradition of jury nullification, and it is sanctioned in our system because a jury can acquit for "any reason or no reason" despite what the judge might think.

I understand and respect that you don't think it should be that way. But that is a different issue the one about the way things are.
I know all of this, but the judge's authority to grant a directed verdict of acquittal is limited to cases in which the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction for the offense charged. In essence, the judge sits as a "13th" juror. The judge is NOT authorized to enter a directed verdict of acquittal based upon personal disagreement with the law (which is the essence of nullification). This IS "the way things are." As far as the Zenger case goes, while it is historically interesting, it predates the adoption of the Consitution by decades, and is effectively of no precedential value.
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:44 AM
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The judge is NOT authorized to enter a directed verdict of acquittal based upon personal disagreement with the law (which is the essence of nullification). This IS "the way things are." As far as the Zenger case goes, while it is historically interesting, it predates the adoption of the Consitution by decades, and is effectively of no precedential value.
The essence of nullification is not "Personal disagreement with the law" rather it is applying the law in the specific case when the jury decides what is right and wrong. As for the Zenger case, the Supremes recently decided they can consider all foreign laws as equal to US law in US courts, if they can use it to follow their political beliefs. Sorry I don't have a cite.

Geoff
Who has seen way too many political persecutions lately.
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Old 03-27-2011, 03:57 PM
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I know all of this, but the judge's authority to grant a directed verdict of acquittal is limited to cases in which the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction for the offense charged. In essence, the judge sits as a "13th" juror. The judge is NOT authorized to enter a directed verdict of acquittal based upon personal disagreement with the law (which is the essence of nullification).
I'm not sure why you thought otherwise - "contrary to a judge's opinion of the proper decision" means in accordance with law. Trial Judges decide the law. they don't express opinions on any other basis.

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As far as the Zenger case goes, while it is historically interesting, it predates the adoption of the Consitution by decades, and is effectively of no precedential value.
Here is one of the first things taught to first year law students - the United States did not adopt a whole new legal system. The United States and the individual states continued the English common law system in effect at the time, except to the extent changed by the Constitution, statutes or specific subsequent common law decision. (Louisiana is the one exception, it chose to go with French civil law instead when it entered the Union.)

The English common law decisions and traditions that pre-date the constitution were (and still are to the extent not otherwise dispensed with) part of our law and traditions. They are not "foreign" law.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly cited the Zenger case for various purposes. for example, in Jones v. US, 526 U.S. 227 (1999) the court referred to the Zenger case in resolving a sentencing issue, stating:

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That this history had to be in the minds of the Framers is beyond cavil. According to one authority, the leading account of Zenger's trial was, with one possible exception "the most widely known source of libertarian thought in England and America during the eighteenth century." L. Levy, Freedom of Speech and Press in Early American History 133 (1963). It is just as much beyond question that Americans of the period perfectly well understood the lesson that the jury right could be lost not only by gross denial, but by erosion. See supra, at 17-20. One contributor to the ratification debates, for example, commenting on the jury trial guarantee in Art. III, § 2, echoed Blackstone in warning of the need "to guard with the most jealous circumspection against the introduction of new, and arbitrary methods of trial, which, under a variety of plausible pretenses, may in time, imperceptibly undermine this best preservative of LIBERTY." A [New Hampshire] Farmer, No. 3, June 6, 1788, quoted in The Complete Bill of Rights 477 (N. Cogan ed. 1997).
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