Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How citizens can win against the government: FIJA.org

The time has come to either take back control of the government from those who think they have the right to rule us, un-civil servants who believe they are our masters, from a Congress and an Executive who ignore the will of the people even when it is made plain, or submit as slaves.

For many years now, I despaired of there being any way to work within the system and still win this fight. I feared that we would need to resort to armed resistance in order to overturn the damage done to our Constitutional Republic over the years since Lincoln denied Americans the right of habeas corpus to FDR, who set us firmly on the road to socialism to Obama, who seeks to make us subservient to his vision of a diminished "america", where everyone (except the elite) is as poor as everyone else.

A reminder of the power that the citizens of America possess that they seldom use, but which could give them complete control of their own destiny once again, appeared online. It happened in the very state where I am currently living, Montana. Fifty miles north of me, in the small city of Missoula, jurors - no, potential jurors - refused to even sit for a case where the prosecutor was trying to convict for the possession of one-sixteenth of an ounce of marijuana. http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_464bdc0a-0b36-11e0-a594-001cc4c03286.html

Now, before you accuse me of being in favor of legalizing marijuana, understand that I have never been a part of any attempt or movement to do so. [ I will admit I think that it shouldn't be criminalized as it is, but if we must control it ("For the children!" ;-), it could be treated like the consumption of alcohol, including DUI - Driving Under the Influence.] But the thought of the cost of a trial, especially a trial by jury, to convict even a low-life, frequent-offender criminal for possession of such a tiny amount is ridiculous. If you can't get him for something significant, its time for catch-and-release. Throw him back and catch him next time.

The power I am talking about is one that many citizens haven't heard of, that the schools and especially the courts don't want you to know about. A power that every judge is taught to lie about, if they aren't simply ignorant of it. That power, that right of the people, that duty of the people is to try not only the facts of the case, but to try the law itself. That is right - it is their duty to decide if the law is fair and if the defendant should even be punished for violating that law. That power is known as Jury Nullification.

There is a reason that it has always been called "trial by jury". That is because it is the jury who is supposed to try the defendant, not the judge. The judge was meant to be a legal "referee", to make sure that procedure was followed, and that neither the defense nor the prosecution had unfair advantage over the other, that both sides adhered to the rules. Now, a citizen can waive his right to a jury trial, if he thinks he will do better being tried by a judge. But it is every citizens right to be tried by jury.

There is an organization called the Fully Informed Jury Association, FIJA. You can read all about them at FIJA.org. There you can read about the long history of jury nullification. You can read about the Peter Zenger trial in colonial days, just prior to the American Revolution. This web site will inform you, will teach you how to use this tremendous power you have that you were not even aware you owned. Please, please visit this web site before those who would control the Internet via the FCC take it, and other freedom-loving web sites offline. Download the information they have there, make copies on your computer that you can distribute to family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. If you really catch fire with this new knowledge, you could even become active enough to pass out pamphlets at - or near, if your local government tries to stop you from doing so on county, state, or federal property - your local court house, or the state or federal courthouse.

Those of us who love liberty have often heard that there are three boxes for fighting for liberty: the soapbox, the ballot box, and the cartridge box. There is actually a fourth: the jury box. And it is quite possible that the most powerful is the jury box. No matter how draconian the law, no matter how powerful the agency, if a jury refuses to convict - if one juror refuses to convict, the defendant goes free. Yes, the prosecutor may attempt to try that defendant again, but if one juror in the next sitting jury refuses to convict, the prosecution will cut its losses and the defendant will be free.

I'm sure you are wondering why this doesn't normally happen. How could a man (Google: Brian Aitken) in New Jersey be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for legally transporting firearms locked in the trunk of his vehicle? How could a man (Google: David Olofson) be convicted and sent to prison for loaning another man a rifle that malfunctioned? It is because judges enjoy too much autonomy in the courtroom, allowing information to be suppressed which might lead the jury to believe the defendant should be acquitted, not convicted. And especially because every judge tells the jury that they are there only to try the facts in the case, and the the judge will try the law. In doing so, the judge is either misinforming the jury through his own ignorance, or is actually, knowingly, lying to them. Judges are aware of the process of jury nullification, but do not want a jury "usurping" their power.

Can you imagine how much freer we would be if juries routinely acquitted in the face of laws that should not even exist? Or when a defendant has broken a law that he was unaware of, or when there were extenuating circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to find him innocent of any intent to do wrong? Then, the power of government to rule us, to make us bend to their will, would be removed,short of a total police state, where there no longer is the Rule of Law. (We are close to that now.)

Many of us are hoping that the new Congress will repeal, overturn, some of the damage done to us by the current Congress. Or, if they are unable to get enough votes to repeal Obamacare or the "Food Safety Act", that they will "defund" them so that they cannot be implemented. Well, if they do neither, we can still stop them in their tracks by refusing to convict anyone tried for violating any provisions of any law passed by Congress. More importantly, we can refuse to convict anyone found guilty of violating one of the millions of regulations that our government agencies are hammering us with that aren't even law, merely regulations written by bureaucrats without the force of legislation - but powerful enough to still get you time in prison.

Think about it, folks. This is power. Real power. One of the few tools we have left short of armed resistance to turn the tide of socialism and rule by regulation. However, it will only work if enough people are made aware of its existence. Go to FIJA.org and start your journey.

“It is not only his [the juror's] 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.” John Adams


  1. Hey, interesting story. Got your email.

    The system, in theory, depends upon people following the law, as in, if people don't follow the law, you have anarchy. Bertolt Brecht wrote a play about a revolutionary judge who made decisions based on "revolutionary" justice, so you can see the problem. Be careful of what you wish for. Opportunistic Lefties -- and quite a few libertarians -- pray for anarchy to get their way. That's a double-edged sword.

    What's interesting about the story you've linked is that it's a referendum on prosecution priorities. I've argued elsewhere that the marijuana laws are more often than not unenforced -- at least at the lower levels. Prosecutors charge them, then drop them. The priority in my part of the world is meth and heroin, not marijuana.

    Interesting you should bring that up today. I've got a young female client who's troubles started on a traffic stop, to a search, to possession, and it really is what in the business we call a 'chippy' prosecution (not for the marijuana, but for some pills).

    I guess that's the problem: legalize drugs or no? Actually, the discussion should be, 'What are our priorities?" Do we want to find an 18-year-old girl guilty of a felony? I can't in good conscience declare for legalizing drugs because they are always part and parcel of evil -- though people don't want to acknowledge that. On the other hand, labeling people as felons and punishing them isn't necessarily a good answer, either.

    Back to jury nullification. The law is, "Jurors are presumed to follow the law", and "Instructions must accurately state the law." Think of it: 9 out of 10 people don't really know what legislatures do, or what prosecutors do. They shop.

    There's always an easy way out for people that can be done quickly, and quietly:

    "We're not convinced the jury proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt." Quick. Clean. No one can question your judgment, even if they disagree with it.

    I've had jurors tearfully tell me they wanted to find for my client but had to "follow the law."

    Well . . . . "the law" can't say what evidence the police obtained, or didn't; "the law" doesn't determine what charging decision a prosecutor has made; and "the law" can't substitute as flesh and blood human beings, which is what a jury's about. What should we do? Draw little pictures?

    My question is, Why do we have to educate them? Why can't they figure it out for themselves?

    Sounds like this jury was a fun bunch o'folks. It's refreshing to read about people actually thinking, even if they're clumsy at it.

  2. Sorry. I'm tired.

    "We're not convinced the prosecution proved its case."

  3. I am fried. Just wrote a long comment here that disappeared into the ether when my wifi connection went down and I hit the button to post it.

    I'll try a brief recap: Due to our schools and governmental manipulation of fact, most folks don't have a chance in hell of figuring it out themselves, at least not in a timely enough fashion to do us any good. Don't know what generation you are, IC, but in my day Lincoln and FDR were gods of liberty, saviors of our nation in its darkest hours. It was many years later that I discovered how badly I had been misled, lied to, about them and so much else of our history.

    Educating the populace, teaching them the truth they were denied, may not be the way we'd like it to have to happen, but if it saves us from going the way of Russia, China, Cuba, etc. it would be worth it.


Sorry, folks. I was completely ignorant about comment rules. Anyone can post, but I'd prefer a name, even if it is made up. Anonymous posts just seem cheap, if you know what I mean. Also, if you want to argue a point, that's fine. Cheap shots and name calling towards me or another person commenting (ad hominem) is rude and will get you banned. Other than that, I'd love to get some comments.