The Government Considers This Blog Post Illegal

There are cases in which I support jury nullification.  I cannot imagine sitting on a jury and voting to convict someone of violating a law I thought to be grossly unethical, no matter what the jury instructions were.

For explanation, see here, but the key quote

In response to Julian Heicklen’s motion to dismiss his indictment [for distributing pamphlets on jury nullification] on First Amendment grounds, federal attorneys have filed a response with the court.  Here is the federal government’s position: “[T]he defendant’s advocacy of jury nullification, directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without Constitutional protections no matter where it occurred” [emphasis added].  This is really astonishing.  A talk radio host is subject to arrest for saying something like, “Let me tell you all what I think.  Jurors should vote their conscience!”  Newspaper columnists and bloggers subject to arrest too?

Next up -- it will be illegal to speak out against the President's ability to detain or assassinate Americans who he believes to be terrorists.


  1. me:

    Woah. That is *blatant*. Also: please, consider running for president? Please?

    Meanwhile, to simplify things, next year, we'll only be allowed to speak if we received prior written permission from the president.

  2. steve:

    Of the entire bill of rights, the 1st has been the most consistently and succesfully defended. Let us hope that trend continues here.

  3. John O.:

    The law is within the public domain, and contrary to those who seek to have confined to lawyers, it requires no special license to debate, interpret, or to apply.

    One facet of law I would like to have fixed is that the laws and all decisions involving its interpretation follow strict logic and be able to follow a complete and concise chain of authority from the statute to the Constitution. Most of law is applied using legal realism, meaning the law is whatever a judge says it is and usually operates with circuitous logic, which is invalid because that removes the law from the public domain.

  4. dmon:

    Perhaps the government needs to research the John Peter Zenger case. Jury nullification is one of the cornerstones of American jurisprudence. Just ask O.J.

  5. Mike C.:

    You missed the best part! The prosecution wants the court to deny the defendent a jury trial because the defendent will probably try to convince the jury to find him not guilty.

    We've fallen through the looking glass...

  6. IGotBupkis, Evoluted Biologist:

    >> The prosecution wants the court to deny the defendent a jury trial because the defendent will probably try to convince the jury to find him not guilty.

    The (sad but) hilarious part is that it is actually against juris rules to attempt to argue to the jury that they should reject the conviction based on jury nullification.

    You can't even bring it up yourself as a defense, even if you're your own lawyer.

    Not sure what they'd do in that case, it would be... amusing... if you refused to not raise the issue and they had to gag and bind you to be present at your own court case.

    Judges and Prosecutors really, really HATE the idea that the Jury can tell them to eph off about The Law.

  7. IGotBupkis, Evoluted Biologist:

    P.S., not only is the Zenger case relevant, but Nullification was relevant to both Fugitive Slave laws ("Naw, I'm not convinced he's the escaped slave in question") as well as the neutralization of Temperance laws (i.e., "Prohibition") that pulled a lot of the teeth out of Prohibition before it got repealed.

    If the people were more conscious of JN, it would make the War on Drugs into a much less effective war.

    The one bright spot is that the SCotUS has consistently, so far, refused to reject its basic principles, though they've done nothing to protect the defendant from ignorance of it.

    A statistical analysis says that, if knowledge of JN was commonplace, then a standard jury would find that any law not supported by at least about 15% of the population would find it a steady obstacle to prosecution. And PAs would learn not to bother with prosecutions for BS crimes.

    This is why there are also movements to reduce jury size to half what it currently is, as that increases the percentage likely to follow suit with the others and agree with the law. One instance where "diversity" is NOT a dirty word.