The Weekly Sedition

Monday, 18 August 2008

Know Your Rights as a Juror

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — weeklysedition @ 8:51 PM

Every week on TV, Bill Koehler and I provide information to audience about their rights when the cops suspect them of a crime, their rights as the accused, and as a juror.

Before I begin, a DISCLAIMER —

  • NOTHING that you read here should be construed as legal advice.
  • Your reading of this page does NOT constitute any sort of attorney-client relationship between yourself and Bill Koehler or myself.
  • Consult an attorney before making any sort of statement to, or filing any sort of paperwork with, the cops, the prosecutor, or the judge.

As a juror, you have the right to not only judge the facts of the case — did the accused commit the specified offense — but also the law of the case —

Is it a good law?
Is the law being properly applied?
Does the punishment fit the alleged crime?

Knowing this, informed jurors can start nuking various bad laws, such as those against drug or gun possession, the tax codes, zoning, etc., etc., etc., etc., from America’s law books, one acquital or mistrial at a time.

To see how this would work, check out Appendix I of Vin Suprynowicz‘s book, Send in the Waco Killers. It’s titled The Odds of a Randomly Selected Jury of 12 Failing to Convict, Charted by Percentage of Population That Stands in Opposition to a Given Law.

Basically, Vin started with the premise that if one juror could throw a case to a mistrial, then any law opposed by more than 1/12 of the population on a popular vote, i.e. general election, should be repealed. After publishing this idea as a column, Vin was contacted by electrical engineer Steve Mahan and software developer Thomas Junker, who ran the numbers, and it turned out that it takes much less than eight percent of the populace to kill bad laws by jury nullification.

I won’t bore you with the numerical details here. Besides, Vin needs to sell more copies, and more people need to read that book.

Also know that as a juror, you can vote to acquit for any reason. What did the Founders say about it being better for a hundred guilty men to go free than one innocent man be imprisoned?

While browsing the web, I found this comment from Tom Knapp on criminal prosecutions [1] —

98% of criminal prosecutions in the US result in “convictions,” 92% through plea bargains reached between a powerless defendant and a nearly all-powerful prosecutor, the other 6% through jury trials.


[1] Faux libertarians throw rocks at Gravel

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