LewRockwell.com | Is it true or false that when you sit on a jury, you may vote on the verdict according to your own conscience? “True,” you say, but then why do most judges tell you that you may consider “only the facts” and that you are not to let your conscience, opinion of the law, or the motives of the defendant affect your decision?
In a trial by jury, the judge’s job is to referee the trial and provide neutral legal advice to the jury, beginning with a full and truthful explanation of a juror’s rights and responsibilities.
But judges rarely “fully inform” jurors of their rights, especially their power to judge the law itself and to vote on the verdict according to conscience. Instead, they end up assisting the prosecution by dismissing any prospective juror who will admit to knowing about this right, starting with anyone who also admits having qualms with any specific law.
In fact, if you have doubts about the fairness of a law, you have the right and obligation to find someone innocent even though they have actually broken the law! John Adams, our second president, had this to say about the juror: “It is not only his right but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
It was normal procedure in the early days of our country to inform juries of their right to judge the law and the defendant. And if the judge didn’t tell them, the defense attorney very often would. The nation’s Founders understood that trials by juries of ordinary citizens, fully informed of their powers as jurors, would confine the government to its proper role as the servant, not the master, of the people. Read Entire Article
By Russ Emal