As a juror, you are the most powerful person in that courtroom. It may not seem like that, but you have the power to acquit the defendant, even if the facts say he “done it”, if you, for any reason, disagree with the law that he broke. The judge doesn’t have that power. The lawyers and prosecutors don’t have that power. Only you, and every other juror sitting with you, have the power to “nullify” laws that you disagree with, for any reason.
That’s the law, and it’s based on common law that is much, much older than the U.S. and its constitution. It is still as valid today as it was a thousand years ago. The judge won’t tell you this. The prosecutors won’t tell you this. But it’s true. Read on to find out more.
What to Expect as a Juror
Your adventure as a juror will begin with a ‘welcome letter‘ and a five-page survey. The first thing you need to understand is that—regardless of instructions to the contrary—you are not required to fill out the survey. The survey is designed to identify prospective jurors who are ‘obedient’ and unaware of their rights and responsibilities.
The only questions you are required to answer, according to RSA 500-A:6, are as follows:
The juror qualification form shall:
(a) Include the name, address and age of the prospective juror;
(b) Require the prospective juror to specify if he is:
(1) A citizen of the United States and a resident of the county;
(2) Able to read, speak and understand the English language;
(3) Subject to any physical or mental disability which would impair the prospective juror’s capacity to render satisfactory jury service; or
(4) A convicted felon whose conviction has not been annulled or whose conviction is not eligible for annulment under New Hampshire law; and
(c) Contain the prospective juror’s declaration that his responses are true to the best of his knowledge and his acknowledgment that a willful misrepresentation of a material fact may be punishable as a misdemeanor under the laws of this state.
If you refuse to answer other questions, experience has shown that you will likely be called aside (so the other jurors won’t be ‘tainted’ by your example) and challenged by the judge and prosecutor. Do not be intimidated. Demand that the prosecutor name the statute, RSA, or law that requires you to answer further questions. Since no such law exists, you will be standing on firm ground.
More general information about your role and rights as a juror may be found at the web site of the Fully Informed Jury Association, or by calling 1-800-TEL-JURY. By contacting us here at NHJury.com you may find help or answers to your questions, as well as support if you feel your rights have been violated.
Once on the jury, you are not required by law to follow the instructions of the judge or prosecuting attorney to convict, or to ignore your conscience. You are not required to explain to anyone why you’ve decided to vote ‘not guilty’. In fact a recent New Hampshire law was passed reaffirming the right of a juror to judge not the only the facts presented, but the law itself.
Remember, with the plethora of laws on the books and the State’s zeal to enforce them, it’s only a matter of time before you, your neighbor, or your loved one end up a defendant against some tyrannical laws.
Remember the maxims: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, and ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’, and remember that what goes around comes around.
This Fully Informed Jury Association page explains what you can do if you are called upon for jury duty, including Cindy Franklin discussing how to get on a jury (or not). This approximately 5 minute video includes a number of tips on what might lead a judge, prosecutor, or defender to exclude you from a jury. Remember- you must get onto the jury before you can exercise your right to nullify bad law!
The primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government.
The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of the people if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government by refusing to convict.