Thursday, November 05, 2015

A Reason to be Thankful

I had a heart-warming conversation this morning.  I was talking with a member of the U.S. grand jury for the district and asked if he had ever voted to not indict.  (The prosecutors only take cases to the grand jury if the evidence is overwhelming.)  This juror said, yes, he had disregarded the judges instructions and had twice refused to indict because he thought the law was immoral.  It made me proud of the Anglo-American system of justice.  I am greatly thankful to be be living in this tradition and not in the tyrannies of other lands.





If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence...If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision.
4th Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Moylan, 1969




[The jury has an] unreviewable and irreversible power...to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge...The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard uncontradicted evidence and instructions of the judge; for example, acquittals under the fugitive slave law.
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Unites States v. Dougherty, 1972


    'You're not concerned with the law, Members of the Jury,' I told them, 'you are concerned with justice!'
    'That is a quite outrageous thing to say! On the admitted facts of this case, Mr O'Higgins is clearly guilty!' His Honour Judge Graves had decided but the honest twelve would have to return the verdict and I spoke to them. 'A British judge has no power to direct a British jury to find a defendant guilty! I know that much at least.'
    'I shall tell the Jury that he is guilty in law, I warn you.' Graves's warning was in vain. I carried on regardless.
    'His Lordship may tell you that to his heart's content. As a great Lord Chief Justice of England, a judge superior in rank to any in this Court, once said, "It is the duty of the Judge to tell you as a jury what to do, but you have the power to do exactly as you like." And what you do, Members of the Jury, is a matter entirely between God and your own consciences....'

Horace Rumpole [John Mortimer, "Rumpole à la Carte," The Third Rumpole Omnibus, Penguin Books, 1998, p.265]

1 comment:

Daniel Burton said...

There are no reasons to be Thankful! We just HAVE TO! People who believe in God don't need any explanations to understand the importance of being thankful. Check these philosophy of religion paper topics for a clear understanding. You have an awesome blog. Never give up and keep it up!