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May 18th, 2007, 12:26 PM #1I Don't Care What the Judge Said!
Something to think about. especially if you find yourself
on a jury:
I Don't Care What the Judge Said!" by Joel Turtel.
"Look, Mr. Straun, John, can I call you John? We've been at
this for 25 days. We're all sick of this. We all want to go
home. You're the only one left. You're the one keeping us
here. I got things to do at home. I got to go to work and
make a living. All of us do. The judge is mad as hell at us.
You're going to hang this jury. You're going to make this
three-month trial into a farce and waste of time. You have
no right to vote acquittal.
You heard the judge's instructions. The jury is not allowed
to judge the law, only the facts."
"The facts are clear as day, aren't they?" Dillard ranted.
"You even admitted that to us. The guy was found with
marijuana in his car. That's against the law. And the guy
admitted the marijuana was his. What more do you need?" said
Raymond Dillard, the jury foreman. Raymond Dillard was tall,
beefy, in his 30's, and he was getting mad, so mad he wanted
to beat John Straun's head in.
Straun was a small, slim man in his 30's, with a straight
back, dark brown hair, large, steady eyes, and a firm mouth.
He seemed not to care at all about all the trouble he was
causing. And he seemed to be fearless.
John Straun said, "I don't care what the judge said. I
happen to know for a fact that a jury has the right to judge
the law. Jury nullification has a long history in this
country. A jury has the right to judge the law, not just the
Raymond Dillard and a few other jurors sneered. Dillard said,
"Oh, are you a lawyer, Mr. Straun? You think you know more
than the judge? What history are you talking about?"
John Straun said calmly, "No, I'm not a lawyer. I'm an
engineer. But in this particular case, I do know more than
the judge. When I found out I was going to be on this jury,
I did a little research about the history of juries, just
for the hell of it. Most people don't know this, but jury
nullification has been upheld as a sacred legal principal in
English common law for 1000 years. Alfred the Great, a great
English king a thousand years ago, hung several of his own
judges because they removed jurors who refused to convict
and replaced these courageous jurors with other jurors they
could intimidate into convicting the defendant on trial."
"Jury nullification also goes back to the very beginning of
our country, as one of the crucial rights our Founding
Fathers wanted to protect. Our Founding Fathers wanted
juries to be the final bulwark against tyrannical government
laws. That's why they emphasized the right to a jury trial
in three of the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
John Adams, second President of the United States, Thomas
Jefferson, third President and author of the Declaration of
Independence, John Jay, First Chief Justice of the U.S.
Supreme Court, and Alexander Hamilton, First Secretary of
the Treasury all flatly stated that juries have the right
and duty to judge not only the facts in a case, but also the
law, according to their conscience."
"Not only that, more recent court decisions have reaffirmed
this right. In 1969, in "US. vs. Moylan," the Fourth Circuit
Court of Appeals upheld the right of juries to judge the law
in a case. In 1972, the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals
upheld the same principal."
Raymond Dillard said, "Yeah, if that's the case, how come
the judge didn't tell us this?"
"That's because of the despicable Supreme Court decision in
"Sparf and Hansen vs. The United States in 1895." John
Straun said. "That decision said juries have the right to
judge the law, but that a judge doesn't have to inform
juries of this right. Cute, huh? And guess what happened
after this decision? Judges stopped telling juries about
"The judge knows about jury nullification. All judges do.
But they hate letting juries decide the law. They hate
juries taking power away from them. That's why judges never
mention a jury's right to judge the law, and most judges
squash defense attorneys from saying anything about it in
"Remember when Jimmy Saunders' defense lawyer started
talking about it? The judge threatened him with contempt if
he didn't shut up about jury nullification. And since you
asked me," Straun continued, "I'll tell you a little more
about jury nullification. Did you ever hear of the Fugitive
Slave Act? Did you ever hear of Prohibition? Do you know why
those despicable laws were repealed? Because juries were so
outraged over those laws that they consistently refused to
convict people who violated them. They refused to convict
because they knew that these laws were unjust and tyrannical,
that Congress had no right making these laws in the first
place. So, because juries wouldn't convict, the government
couldn't make these laws stick. They tried for many years,
but finally gave up."
"What do you think this mad War on Drugs is that we've been
fighting the last sixty years? It's the same as Prohibition
in the 20's. It's the same principle. A tyrannical
government is telling people that they can't take drugs,
just like in the 20's they said people couldn't drink liquor.
What's the difference? A tyrannical law is telling people
what they can or can't put in their own bodies. Who owns our
bodies, us or the self-righteous politicians?
Does the government own your body, Mr. Dillard? Do you smoke,
Mr. Dillard? Do you drink beer?" Dillard nodded his head,
"Yeah, I do." "Well, how would you like it if they passed
laws telling you that can't smoke or drink a beer anymore.
Would you like that, Mr. Dillard?" Dillard looked at John
Straun, thought about the question, then admitted, "No, I
John Straun turned to the others around the table. "You,
Jack, you said you're sixty-five years old. You like to play
golf, right? What if they passed a law saying anyone over
sixty-five can't play golf because the exercise might give
him a heart attack? You, Frank, you said you eat hamburgers
at McDougals all the time. What if they passed a law saying
fatty hamburgers give people heart attacks, so we're closing
down all the McDougal restaurants in the country, and they
make eating a hamburger a criminal offence? You, Mrs.
Pelchat, I see you like to smoke. Everyone knows that
smoking can give you lung cancer. How would you like it if
they passed a law banning all cigarettes? What if they could
crash in the door of your house without a warrant to search
for cigarettes in your house, like the SWAT teams do now,
looking for drugs? Mrs. Pelchat, how would you like to be on
trial like Jimmy Saunders because they found a pack of
cigarettes you hid under your mattress?"
"Do you all see what I mean? If they can make it a crime for
Jimmy Saunders to smoke marijuana, why can't they make golf,
hamburgers, and cigarettes a crime? If you think they
wouldn't try, think again. They had Prohibition in the 20's
for almost ten years, till they finally gave up. The only
reason they haven't banned cigarettes is because there are
thirty million cigarette smokers in this country who would
scream bloody murder. They get away with making marijuana
and other drugs illegal only because drug-users are a small
minority in this country. Drug users don't have any
Raymond Dillard sat down in his chair. The others started
talking among themselves. John Straun started seeing heads
nodding in agreement, thinking about what he had said.
"OK, Straun," Dillard said. "Maybe you're right. Maybe Jimmy
Saunders shouldn't go to jail for smoking marijuana. Hell,
probably most of us tried the stuff when we were young.
Clinton said he smoked marijuana in college. Bush said he
tried drugs in college. Probably half of Congress and their
kids took drugs one time or another. O.K. we agree with you.
But what about the judge. He said we can't judge the law."
John Straun stood up. He was not a tall man, but he stood
very straight, and he looked very sure of himself. He looked
from one to another of them. He said, "If you agree with me,
then I ask you all to vote for acquittal. You are not only
defending Jimmy Saunders' liberty, but your own. You are
fighting a tyrannical law that is enforced by a judge who
wants the power to control you. I told you that many juries
like us in the past have disregarded the judge's instructions.
They stood up for liberty against a tyrannical law. Are you
Americans here? What do you value more, your liberty, your
pride as free men, or the instructions of a judge who
doesn't want you to judge the law precisely because he knows
you'll find the law unjust? Will you stand with those juries
who defended our liberty in the past, or will you give in to
"Here's another thing to think about," John Straun said with
passion. "What if it was your sister or brother on trial
here? Do you know that if we say Saunders is guilty, the
judge has to send him to prison for twenty years? I
understand this is Saunders third possession charge. You
know the "three strikes and you're out" rule, don't you?
The politicians passed a law that if a guy gets convicted
three times on possession, the judge now has no leeway in
sentencing. He has to give the poor guy twenty years in
prison. What if it were your sister or brother on trial?
Should they go to jail for smoking marijuana, for doing
something that should not be a crime in the first place? Do
we want to send Jimmy Saunders to prison for twenty years
because he smoked a joint, hurting no one? Can you have that
on your conscience?"
"Do you know that there are almost a million guys like Jimmy
Saunders in federal prisons right now, as we speak, for this
same so-called "crime" of smoking marijuana or taking other
drugs? These men were sent to prison for mere possession.
They harmed no one but themselves when they took drugs.
How can you have a crime without a victim? When does this
horror stop? It has got to stop. I'm asking you all now to
stop it right here, at least for Jimmy Saunders. The only
thing that can stop tyrannical laws and politicians is you
and me, juries like us. If we do nothing, we're lost, the
country is lost."
"I'm asking you all to bring in a not-guilty verdict,
because the drug laws are unjust and a moral obscenity. I'm
asking you all be the kind of Americans our Founding Fathers
would have been proud of, these same men who fought for your
liberty. That's what I'm asking of all of you."
John Straun sat down and looked quietly at Dillard and all
the others around the table. They looked back at him, and it
seemed that their backs began to straighten up, and they no
longer complained about going home. They were quiet. Then
they talked passionately amongst each other.
Fifteen minutes later, they walked into the courtroom and
sat down in the jury box. When the judge asked Raymond
Dillard what the verdict was, he was stunned when Dillard,
standing tall, looking straight at the judge, said "Not
guilty." Over the angry rantings of the red-faced judge, all
in the jury box looked calmly at John Straun, and felt proud
to be an American."
(End of article by Joel Turtel.)
"The Citizens Rule Book": http://apfn.org/pdf/citizen.pdf
May 24th, 2007, 11:45 PM #2
What an inspirational story!
Makes me proud to be an American!
May 25th, 2007, 08:55 AM #3
May 25th, 2007, 09:45 AM #4
It was a bit of a read, but non the less a great story. A bit of inspiration for a Friday morning
May 25th, 2007, 11:36 AM #5
May 25th, 2007, 12:05 PM #6
Amen, especially on the drug war...what a waste of money!
May 25th, 2007, 12:07 PM #7
Locking up any pot smoker is deeply absurd. Most of the lawyers and judges have at least tried it as adults. Gov't studies show that >42% of high schoolers have tried it before they graduate*. It's use is widespread and transcends all economic, racial/ethnic, political, geographical and religious boundaries.
An appropriate punishment, if it were to remain illegal at all, should be a $100 fine that goes towards prevention and treatment of all drug abusers. Why, because like alcohol, there are a % of people who become addicted and need treatment. I don't claim pot is harmless, but it's harm is blown way, way out of proportion by our government.
I'm not a regular pot smoker by the way, so don't dismiss my opinion as some raving lunatic stoner who wants to do as he pleases. Personally, I could care less if it's legal or even available. But locking up anyone for using it, is thoroughly ludicrous in its hypocrisy.
PS - I think helmet laws for adults suck too - this is really about liberty to me, not pot.
May 25th, 2007, 12:09 PM #8
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
Now, let's all get st*ned!
May 25th, 2007, 12:15 PM #9
The $100 fine is a good idea, but even better would be to legalize, control, and tax, which a large sum of money going to rehab programs. Addiction is a real problem for a lot of people, and they deserve to be treated like humans, not criminals. Legalization is a much better way to do that...
Actually, someone (a recovering addict) just wrote a really nice piece on that for a blog I run, but I'm not sure if I should post the link (as I don't want to piss of the Haiko gods)...if you want to see it let me know and I'll PM it over. Or if you can convince me I'll drop it in the thread!
May 25th, 2007, 12:40 PM #10
I wouldn't say that the war on drugs is a waste of money. I know quite a few people in law enforcement, and it's amazing how much crime is related to drug use. I don't know how accurate it is, but I've heard that one person dies a drug-related death for every kilo of cocaine that enters this country.
May 25th, 2007, 12:54 PM #11
95% of the crime related to drug use would end overnight if "illicit drugs" were legalized and regulated. Almost all of the "crime" comes from the illegality, not from the drug use itself.
Oh, and the biggest drug dealers in the world, legally selling their wares on TV, radio, newspapers, the net, etc., with exaggerated claims of how their newest products will improve improve your life and make you feel so much better, are the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies.
Their payoffs to FDA and NIH researchers have had horrendous effects on law-abiding citizens who have ingested dangerous legal drugs that should never have been allowed gov. approval.
May 25th, 2007, 01:00 PM #12
Originally Posted by MichaelColey
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
That being said, I think cocaine, heroin and some other drugs should remain illegal or if they are legalized they need to be controlled heavily and there should be a mandatory LONG jail sentence for those trafficking it. But for people to be sitting in jail or living their life as a convicted felon for anything related to pot is purely ridiculous.
May 25th, 2007, 01:41 PM #13Originally Posted by UncleScooter
Anyway, this post is very timely, Rexanne, as I had jury duty this week! I was voir dired (that sounds dirty, doesn't it?) on the first day. In fact, I was the first one called. It was a DUI case and it sounded interesting. They were going to have witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense, lab evidence, and everything. I had an open mind and I'm used to analyzing facts and using logic (at my day job as an engineer), so I thought it would be interesting to hear the case. Plus, I really would've preferred to sit on a jury this week instead of going to work. LOL. When it came time for peremptory challenges, the prosecutor liked the seated panel as it was. The defense attorney kicked me off. I think the fact I'm an engineer (and perhaps because I'd been on a jury before) worked against me. Yet, the prosecutor and defense attorney kept the guy who had been arrested for DUI four times. ??? I was bummed. You'd think they'd rather have someone who had no opinion one way or the other over a guy who obviously would have a little bias...-Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
- Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.
May 25th, 2007, 03:52 PM #14Originally Posted by AffiliateHound
May 25th, 2007, 04:08 PM #15
I absolutely agree that locking a pot smoker up is insane although the original intent of the article was to alert the population to the fact that we, the people, have the absolute right to QUESTION and JUDGE the LAWS, which I think is huge.
I'm not so much a screaming liberal as a thinking person who trusts her own judgment over and above all else.
And whoever was ranting about legalizing pot above is right on. Take the crime out of drugs and we'd have a lot less crime on the streets. Gangs make most of their money and obtain most of their power selling illegal drugs. Take that away and there would be a lot less crime on the streets, drugs would be controlled and we'd probably have a lot less addicts wandering around in a stupor, committing more crime to feed their habit.
I would much rather be driving next to a mellow pot smoker than an uninhibited drunk who would more likely get me killed ... and alcohol is LEGAL. WTF?!!!
Again, the point of the original post was that members of a jury of the defendant's PEERS have the absolute right to judge laws we feel are unjust and to stand up for what we believe is right or wrong. The original constitution of the United States made it very clear: WE, THE PEOPLE are the power.
May 25th, 2007, 05:41 PM #16
Someone please post instructions on how to be a safe, coherent, recreational cocaine, crack or heroin user.
Then I'll vote for candidates who would legalize them.
Pot is a non issue. But the harder drugs? Big trouble.
I would rather drive next to someone who recognizes that their PRIVILIGE to operate a vehicle can be taken from them if they operate it it in ANY way that endangers others. Drugs, alcohol, yelling at kids, whatever.
Coincidentally, the Wiki article on Jury Nullification is interesting
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