If you want to nullify a bad law, you probably have to lie under oath. And if you want to get kicked out of the courtroom, then so long as you know and approve of the purpose of a jury (not to convict criminals, per se, but to prevent the conviction of non-criminals), all you have to do is tell the truth. That is the Justice System, both criminal and civil, as it pertains to the average citizen from whom the state requires reciprocity.
I wrote an article yesterday on going to jury duty (I was not a juror in a case, but a prospective juror of seventy or so; they only picked twelve and one alternate, none of whom were me) this morning. Here is an update that I left in the comments section:
“Well, I got there on time, sat around for an hour before anything happened. There was a good seventy other potential jurors in the room. 27 (picked by computer) were impanelled immediately. A lot of them were dismissed in the first hour and each time a new person took their place. The rest of us were listening to the whole thing but not actively participating. There were three 10-15 minute recesses, and by the time it was over (the whole thing went from 8:30 to 1:30) and they picked their twelve jurors and one alternate, more than a third of us hadn’t done a thing, just sat there. It took me a while to figure out what I would say or do if I got called up there. Since everyone was technically under oath, if the question “would you convict someone who broke the law (state felony) even if you disagreed with that law” came up for me I would have just been honest and probably would have been dismissed, although in this particular case I did agree with the law insofar as I knew what was in it, so there’s a chance they would have ignored the fact I would have otherwise nullified. Others were asked this question, by the prosecutor, but the only person that spoke up said he would still find the person guilty because it was “not his role, as a juror, to make pronouncements on the law.” Another question, from the defense, was “should law enforcement be given more credibility than other witnesses?” No one gave a straight answer. I would have flat out said “no.” The defense probably would have liked that but the prosecution would probably want some clarification. A related question was “do cops intimidate you; if so why?” My answer (if I had been called up there): “Yes; they are armed, arrogant, and one step away from being thugs.” So I had three ways I could have gotten out of it, and given the oath, I would have felt compelled to use them. It seems that in order to nullify these days you have to lie under oath. Great system. Oh, and I did bring my jury handbook in. It was in my shirt pocket. Nobody noticed.”
Another commenter said:
“That little oath that witnesses swear prior to taking the witness stand – ‘To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.’ That never happens. Jurors never hear the whole truth as pre-trial activities are conducted to determine what evidence is and is not allowable. This is in addition to any false testimony given while on the stand (happens all the time). Even a piece of exonerating or damning evidence could be excluded based on technicalities. A juror will never be privy to this.”
“Personally, I would always nullify. Its the state. They are out to win. They will spend your dollars to either successfully convict or extract a plea.”
“Please correct me if I misunderstand you. Always nullify, even when, based on your values you think it is a real crime and based on the evidence (I’d wager that even if the court system was 100% honest you would never get the whole truth) you think the person really committed it? I suppose I can understand that sentiment to a certain extent. Can one convict in good conscience, if they know there is a chance, perhaps only a slight one, that they aren’t really getting the whole story? I really don’t know if I could. But at the same time there are real criminals out there that need to be removed from society (only a temporary arrangement; I do believe in second chances) and/or make restitution, so if you nullify every time because there is a chance you don’t have all the facts, they will still be there plaguing us. Justice will go unserved for the criminal. The tradeoff may be that you serve it to the state instead. Maybe that will be worth it to cut down on the few cases where innocent people get convicted, as well as to slow down the state. But you would still have to do something to combat crime. There may be better methods than the ones in place, like just banning them from your community and dispensing the death penalty ONLY in self-defense, but until those are feasible you have to do something with them. But as you describe it, the way things are almost seem no better (and definitely worse in some cases) than vigilantism.”
Some things to think about.