“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 [juries] have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy.” —John Jay, first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, State of Georgia v. Brailsford (1794)
You’re out on a leisurely walk in the city one day, simply going about your business and keeping to yourself, when… crap! People handing out informational literature. Uggghh. Don’t they have anything better to do? You’ve clearly spotted them and worse yet, they spotted you spotting them! Good luck escaping their tractor beam now!
You briefly consider reaching for your cell phone to pretend to take a call, but it’s too late. It’s clear that there’s no way to weasel out of accepting their disruptive pamphlet, so you force a polite, acknowledging smile, or construct a curious, inquisitive glance as you take the propaganda from their outstretched hand, feigning interest juuuuuussstt until you’re out of their field of view (probably), at which point you can safely discard whatever it was they were peddling without looking like a terrible, close-minded person.
Sound familiar? Or is that just the process that usually runs through my head when I see someone handing out unsolicited pamphlets? (To be fair, it is usually promotional garbage trying to get us to buy something, or telling us we’re going to some version of hell if we don’t repent for our existence, etc.) Well, even despite my less-than-savory feelings about this method of interpersonal exchange, I was actually on the other side of it for the first time this week, volunteering my time to help spread awareness of an incredible right that we as Americans possess, but simply aren’t informed of: jury nullification of law. (more…)
NHJury.com is sponsoring an ongoing contest looking for Great Ideas to help kick-start the organization. We have $500, provided by the Civil Disobedience Evolution Fund. We will award up to $50 for ideas that we like. Here are the ideas we like this week, and the amount of money awarded:
smashley suggested that we organize a music festival to raise money and awareness. We’re not sure exactly how to pull this off, but the idea definitely has potential. This idea earned smashley 50 bucks.
budvoss suggested that we hand out pamphlets at the DMV. Since the jury pool is selected from voter rolls and DMV licenses, this would allow us to reach people who might not otherwise be exposed to our outreach at courtrooms. budvoss gets 20 bucks for this idea.
Magic Mist suggested outreach similar to the Stamp Stampede movement where supporters could stamp dollar bills with “Google jury nullification” or some other message that would expose people to our message. That idea is worth 20 bucks. Magic Mist has asked that Rich Paul receive the award.
Any suggested that we identify activists in the New Hampshire jury nullification movement and host pages with the activists’ information with the ability for supporters to send donations directly to the activist. For this, Any gets 20 bucks.
Darryl Perry suggested that the Executive Director and board members of NH Jury go to Concord to testify at committee hearings where jury nullification legislation is discussed. Thanks for the idea, Daryl! It’s worth a Jackson.
Finally, Danny Sprinkle came up with a clever idea that at first seems counterproductive. Danny suggested that we create a flyer titled, “How to Get Out of Jury Duty”. For most people the desire to get out of jury duty is orders of magnitude greater than the desire to get on a jury to do justice. Playing the role of Trojan Horse, the flyer could be filled with information explaining jury nullification and the juror’s power to judge the law as well as facts, and how judges don’t like this kind of subversion in their courtrooms. The flyer would then provide helpful instructions on how to get yourself dismissed: “Show this flyer to the judge” or “Tell the court that ‘I will judge the law'”.One idea would be to hand these out at the courthouse on jury selection day and video record. The authorities will go nuts. Sooner or later judges may start to get wise to this transparent ruse and force those who use it to serve on juries. Brilliant. For this, Danny gets 30 bucks.