Jury Duty is not what you have been told.

This is from my essay AMERICA HELD CAPTIVE — PART 1, Item #15

A JURY IS 12 PEOPLE WHO KNOW YOU and who can judge the law as well as the facts.

In 1794, the U.S. Supreme Court conducted a jury trial in the case of the State of Georgia v Brailsford in the first jury trial before the Supreme Court of the United States.  In the jury instructions. Chief Justice John Jay told the jury:

It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision… …you have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy“.

The book Elliot’s Debates On The Adoption Of The Constitution (Vol 3, page 579) quotes Patrick Henry as stating:

By the bill of rights of England, a subject has a right to a trial by his peers. What is meant by his peers? Those who reside near him, his neighbors, and who are well acquainted with his character and situation in life.”

Also in Elliot’s Debates we can read (Vol 2, page 516) where another Founding Father, James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence and later a Supreme Court Justice, reassured us that a jury of your peers would always be 12 people who know you:

Where jurors can be acquainted with the characters of the parties and the witnesses — where the whole cause can be brought within their knowledge and their view — I know no mode of investigation equal to that by a trial by jury: they hear every thing that is alleged; they not only hear the words, but they see and mark the features of the countenance; they can judge of weight due to such testimony; and moreover, it is a cheap and expeditious manner of distributing justice. There is another advantage annexed to the trial by jury; the jurors may indeed return a mistaken or ill-founded verdict, but their errors cannot be systematical.”

And again, in Elliot’s Debates, Vol 2, page 110, Congressman Holmes from Massachusetts, assured us that cases would be heard in the local community where the jury of peers could form a judgment based on the character of the accused and the credibility of the witnesses.

That’s right! Your Constitution was ratified on the reassurance, over and over again, that a jury of your peers would always be 12 people who know you.

In 1969 in US v. Moylan 417 F2d 1002 at page 1006:

We recognize as appellants urge, the UNDISPUTED power of the jury to acquit, even if the verdict is contrary to the law as given by the judge and contrary to the evidence. … the jury has the power to acquit and the courts must abide by that decision.”

As recently as 1972, in the case U.S. v Dougherty, 473 F 2d 1113, 1139 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the jury has an “unreviewable and irreversible power… to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge.”

Here is further proof that a real trial (by jury) is not a trial by government: The Metropolitan News, a Los Angeles legal newspaper on October 25, 1973 quoted Hon. L. Thaxton Hanson, Justice Court of Appeals, State of California (ret.):

In ancient times, the right to trial by jury was called `trial per pals’ – that is, trial by country – or by the people, as distinguished from trial by government”

Lord Hale, 18th Century English Jurist was being quoted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s case Sparf & Hansen v. U.S., 156 U.S. 51 at page 119 (1895):

… if the judge’s opinion in matter of law must rule the issue of fact submitted to the jury, the trial by jury would be useless.”

Read that again. IF THE JURY MUST OBEY THE JUDGE’S INSTRUCTIONS ON THE LAW, THEN A TRIAL BY JURY WOULD BE USELESS.

That’s right. Trial by jury would be useless. Imagine what life would be like a country where people must obey the judges’ interpretation of the law.

In the impeachment Trial of US Supreme Court Justice Chase in 1805, your US Government fought for the right of the jury to judge the law as well as the facts. They impeached Justice Chase because he failed to tell a jury in a murder trial that they can judge the law.  Supreme Court Justice Chase, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was impeached for [Chase Transcript Article 1, section 2, clause 4]:

  • “… endeavoring to wrest from the jury their indisputable right to hear argument, and determine upon the question of law as well as the question of fact, …”
  • “… to the disgrace of the character of the American bench, in manifest violation of law and justice and in open contempt of the rights of juries, on which ultimately rest the liberty and safety of the American people.”

That’s right. The liberty and safety of the American people depend upon the jury’s indisputable right to determine what the law is.  Imagine what life would be like a country where jurors must obey* the judge’s interpretation of the law.

Why, you might end up in a country that has 4% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prisoners, 70% of the world’s lawyers and 93% of the world’s lawsuits.

The jurors have the power to ignore the court’s instructions and bring in a not guilty verdict contrary to the law and the facts. Horning v. District of Columbia, 254 U.S. 135 (1920).

But things changed. Juries now should not be told by the court that they have this power. United States v. Krzyske, 836 F.2d 1013, 1021 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 832; United States v. Avery, 717 F.2d 1020, 1027 (6th Cir.1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 905 (1984); United States v. Burkhart, 501 F.2d 993, 996-997 (6th Cir.1974), cert. denied, 420 U.S. 946 (1975).

We have lost our rights: Juries must now be told that it is their duty to accept and apply the law as given to them by the court. United States v. Avery, 717 F.2d 1020, 1027.

*  We give up our rights by swearing a juror’s oath. Jurors represent a cross section of the society that created government.   We are the jura summa imperii that is responsible for oversight of our subordinate’s ruling.  The Jury is the highest officer (a plural officer) in the courtroom.  An oath is only taken to a superior (example: Hebrews 6:16). In country where all men are created equal — no equal would ever swear an oath to another equal (Example: Matthew 5:34).  No created equal juror, who is still equal, would ever swear a jurors oath. Judges are the ones who swore oaths to be inferior to the society that created government. The Jury represents that society in the courtroom. We are all created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights that governments are instituted among men to secure.

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