L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 214, March 10, 2003
STAND IN THE GAP
Juries Have The Power To Rein In Government
Special to TLE
[Part Two of a Three-Part Series ... see Part One here]
America is at war. Our nation is locked in a war for ideas that will end with either a return to true freedom and limited government, or rule by despots. While most Americans have their heads in the sand, our government is progressively reducing our rights to mere privileges and our constitutional guarantees to confetti, with no end in sight.
One crucial battlefront is our right to a fair trial by jury, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Our Founding Fathers knew that one of the main purposes of jury trials was to protect people's rights from infringement by the government. To quote Thomas Jefferson: "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." That means it is a jury's duty to hold government power in check and insure that it doesn't overstep its constitutional limits and violate the God- given rights of citizens. How? Jurors can "just say no" to bad laws by refusing to convict people accused of violating them. Lysander Spooner said, "It is also their [the jurors'] right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive." That power is called jury nullification or jury veto-power and it is foundational to our freedom as Americans. That hasn't changed.
What has changed is that today, self-serving, power-hungry politicians and judges no longer want us to have that right. To that end they have twisted and corrupted the jury system to the point where justice can be manipulated and juries are reduced to a pathetic group of "yes men" (and "yes women"--don't feel left out) who will, like good little puppets, obey the judge and not let trivial matters like a defendant's Constitutional Rights stand in the way of a conviction. The process of voir dire (jury selection) is now routinely used to remove any jurors who would dare to question the law or use their consciences in determining a verdict. This, quite simply, is an act of tyranny against the American people. When a judge makes jurors swear to uphold the law as he gives it to them, that is an usurpation of power--an act of tyranny! When a judge tells jurors what they can or cannot discuss in the jury room, that is an usurpation of power--an act of tyranny! When a judge refuses to allow a defendant or his counsel to argue the law, its interpretation and its validity to the jury, that also is an act of tyranny! When a judge refuses to allow the accused to present important evidence or expert testimony for his defence, that, too, is an act of tyranny!
Incredibly, these crimes against American citizens are committed routinely by judges all across America. The case of Channing Wilson of Durango, Colorado, who was railroaded into a conviction by a corrupt judge named James M. Robb, comes to mind. Without even looking at the evidence, Judge Robb refused to allow Mr. Wilson to present any of the twenty-six exhibits he had prepared--including a copy of the U.S. Constitution--and refused to allow either of the two expert witnesses, who had been flown in from out-of-state, to testify! In other words, Mr. Wilson was not allowed to defend himself! It is very unlikely that Judge Robb, who has since retired to Grand Junction, will ever be held accountable for these crimes because the judicial system has become so utterly corrupt. Meanwhile, Mr. Wilson languishes in a federal prison in Longmont.
Things are no better here in El Paso County, Colorado. This writer mailed information about jury nullification to judges Thomas Kennedy, Larry Schwartz, Stephen Sletta, Geoffrey DeWolfe, Caroline Benham, Rebecca Bromley, Barney Iuppa, Lawrence Martin and James Patterson, asking them to call or write to discuss this important matter. Not one of them even bothered to respond.
What We The People have to understand is that we can't count on judges and other government officials to protect our rights. Attacks on property rights, parental rights, gun rights, privacy, even free speech and freedom of the press, are escalating. Jury nullification--our last peaceful line of defense against government tyranny--has never been needed more. It's high time that We The People "reminded" our government that we don't exist to serve it--we created it to serve us! Let's begin by reclaiming our lost jury rights. Freedom isn't free--and it isn't guaranteed to last.
Learn more by calling the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) at 1-800-TEL-JURY or visiting our Web site www.FIJA.org. Please also call this writer at (719) 473-4241 (or write: address is on FIJA Web site) to help with our fight for freedom locally.
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