[Kooler] Re: Cd Burning Question
darrel at coma.ucsd.edu
Tue Jul 10 13:51:37 PDT 2001
> But that's *not* the role of a jury. If a law on the books is wrong, it
> needs to be removed, *not* selectively or poorly enforced. Where do you
> draw the line between which laws you're going to obey/uphold and which
> ones you won't? What if your next-door-neighbor draws the line
> somewhere else? What happens if police or prosecutors decide on a
> different interpretation of a given law, and you get caught up in the
> aftermath? That way lies anarchy. Yes, there are plenty of stupid laws
> and plenty of laws which are just plain *wrong*. But they should be
> changed or removed.
There are 12 people on a jury, and a unanimous verdict is required. I am not
making the decision, all I am doing is not surrending my own judgement. The
worst thing that can happen is a mistrial. The prosecutor may decide to give
up, or may decide to go for another round. If that prosecutor knew that it
would be much harder to get convictions, he/she will be less likely to bring
charges on those grounds. I agree stupid laws should be changed or removed,
and being in a jury is the one chance that most of have to stand up and say,
"This is a Stupid Law, I will not enforce it, so *you* should remove it."
Spare me the appeals to anarchy.
Have you ever heard of John Peter Zenger?
Zenger was the publisher of the New York Weekly Journal in the 1730's. His
was the only paper that would criticize the colony's royal governor Sir
William Cosby (insert Jell-O joke here). In 1734 Cosby had him arrested on a
charge of seditious libel. In the authoritarian regime, truth was not a
defense to libel charges against the authority. Andrew Hamilton, defending
Zenger, argued that truth should be a defense against libel, but the judge
refused to allow that argument, and instructed the jury not to consider it.
In his closing argument, Hamilton appealed directly to the jury to judge the
law as well as the man. The jury ignored the judge's instructions, found
Zenger "not guilty", and Freedom of the Press was born in this country.
the question before the court, and you, gentlemen of the jury, is not of
small nor private concern; it is not the cause of a poor printer, nor of New
York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may, in its consequence, affect
every free man that lives under a British government on the main continent of
America. It is the best cause; it is the cause of liberty; and I make no
doubt but your upright conduct, this day, will not only entitle you to the
love and esteem of your fellow citizen, but every man who prefers freedom to
a life of slavery will bless and honor you as men who have baffled the
attempt of tyranny, and, by an impartial and uncorrupt verdict, have laid a
noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity, and our neighbors
that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us a right--the
liberty of both exposing arbitrary power by speaking and writing truth...."
-Andrew Hamilton arguing the John Peter Zenger case, 1735
More information about the KPLUG-Kooler