Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
3863 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109
For Immediate Release:
For more information contact:
Doug Leard (Media Relations) or David Jahn (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS
Recognizing the power of jury nullification
The Libertarian Party acknowledges September 5, 2005 as Jury Rights Day and calls for greater public awareness of the powers and duties of jurors – including the largely ignored power of jury nullification.
LP spokesman Tim Crowley, explained that, "Juries are empowered to consider matters of fact as they pertain to guilt or innocence, but they also are empowered to consider the morality of the law in question. That’s the power of jury nullification."
This power is seldom mentioned in today’s courtrooms, but it is real and has a long historical tradition in the U.S. and England. John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said in a 1794 ruling, "The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."
This is by design. Our Constitution and its Bill of Rights specifically inserts juries into this process. It gives citizens a final say over lawmakers.
We should be thankful for this final say. An English jury stopped the religious persecution of our own William Penn. Juries protected members of the Underground Railroad. Juries sent a message that helped to end Prohibition.
Henry Haller, 2002 Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor added, "Unfortunately, jury rights advocates have been arrested for distributing juror nullification pamphlets on the same city block where courthouses are located. Judges never inform juries of this power and believe it represents a threat to their domain."
Conscientious use of this pow! er represents anything but a threat. It can represent dignity for suff ering terminal medical marijuana patients victimized by cruel unintended consequences of drug laws. It can represent self-preservation for citizens confronted by a government that wants to disarm everyone but violent criminals.
For more information on this critically important power held by everyday citizens, contact the Fully Informed Jury Association, 1-800-TEL-JURY.
The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States with over 600 officials serving in office throughout the nation. Please visit www.LP.org or www.LPPA.org for more information on the Libertarian Party.