Your Right and Duty to Acquit
by Bill St. Clair
If you serve on a jury in a criminal trial, the judge will likely tell you that his job is to interpret the law, and to inform you about it, and that your job is only to determine whether the defendant did the thing of which (s)he was accused. Wrong.
The judge is the referee of the proceedings. His job is to maintain order, and to ensure that witnesses are sworn in, and properly questioned and cross-examined.
The job of a jury is to protect citizens from the awesome power of the state. If the state does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, if the statute allegedly violated does not involve a real crime, if the punishment is too severe, it is your right and duty to acquit, denying the state the power to cage a human being like an animal.
Crime is the intentional harm of the person or property of a non-consenting sentient being. Period. If an action harms nobody, it is not a crime. If the person harmed consented to that harm, it is not a crime. If no harm was intended, it is not a crime. No matter how many people voted to criminalize that action, it is not a crime. As a juror, you have a right and duty to acquit a defendant so accused.
Defendants are innocent until proven guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is any doubt in your mind that the defendant intentionally caused direct harm, it is your right and duty to acquit.
Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden by the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution. If you think the punishment is too severe for the crime of which the defendant is accused, it is your right and duty to acquit. If the judge is hamstrung by a mandatory minimum sentence, and you think that minimum is excessive, it is your right and duty to acquit.
Ours is a constitutional republic. Our governments have only the powers that are specifically granted by their constitutions. If the Constitution of the state in which the defendant is accused, or, in federal court, the US Constitution, does not explicitly grant authority to criminalize the alleged crime, you have a right and duty to acquit.
In federal court, this nullifies automatically every drug statute (drugs are not mentioned in the Constitution), every gun statute (Second Amendment: “…, the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”), every licensing and registration statute (neither “license” nor “registration” appears anywhere in the US Constitution), and much more.
Prior restraint is the criminalizing of an action that might cause harm. If there was no actual harm to an actual person or their property, there is no crime. You have a right and duty to acquit.
To fully acquit a defendant, the jury must vote unanimously. But the defendant cannot be imprisoned unless the jury votes unanimously to convict. A retrial, with a unanimous verdict, is required for that. If you think the defendant is innocent, try to convince the other jurors to acquit. But if you can’t do that, vote to acquit and cause a mistrial. Make the prosecutor go through another trial before he is allowed his punishment.
As a juror, you are the last protection an innocent person has against being caged like an animal. No victim? Punishment too harsh? Guilt not proven beyond a reasonable doubt? You have a right and duty to acquit. Do it.
For more information, visit the Fully Informed Jury Association at FIJA.org
Copyright © Bill St. Clair, 14 May, 2013
There is at least 1 person out of every one hundred, if not 3, who share a viewpoint congruent to ours. Clark county, WA, our little home county, has a population of around 433,000 people. At just 1% that’s just over 4000 like minded citizens – 4 battalions of people who need do nothing more than say “NO” and defend each other in the gravest extreme when our saying it is not enough. At 3% that’s TWELVE THOUSAND PATRIOTS! Even if the number at this juncture is only .01% , four hundred recalcitrant, stubborn, ornery, independent, obstinate, willful, hearty, passionate, loving sons-of-bitches in our little county who declare the withdrawal of their consent could foment a great tipping point in favor of liberty. I am however inclined to believe, based on polling I recently read, that the numbers fall nearly as high as 15% amongst the populace. That would be 64,950 people in a county that is only 656 square miles. We’d be everywhere at once! Even if the numbers are much smaller at first, say 500 committed people, once it could be seen that our superior numbers and wide distribution could actually defend each other’s liberty whilst leaving our fellow citizens unmolested, people will leave the old paradigm behind in droves and join us.
All alone I am weak, and sadly, cowardly; I know that it would be foolish to assert my rights and stand up to tyranny alone. Knowing that 500+ others of similar mindset and fortitude are on standby to defend each other, I am bold and we are strong.
A few drops of rain
Escaping from the thunder
A deluge shall soon follow
I fear what the state can do with impunity to any one man or small group that decides they would just rather be peaceably left alone. There are cases by the thousands, brought to us by the power of the Internet. A police state has been erected around us, and it is clear that the American Experiment in limited government has failed. How is it possible that the individuals whom make up the state and act as its agents can have so much apparent power? The basis of their power relies on two concepts. The first is that just enough of a plurality of the population is under a belief that those in power are legitimate in possessing that power; the second is that those in power have amassed enough people in their employ as agents to overwhelm any benign individual person or small group that decides differently. The first concept is rapidly crumbling, as a result of the power of the Internet to expose the abuse and illegitimacy of their actions. The second concept being swept aside is the reason for this blog, “Clark County III.”
Any state interloper would have to think long and hard about interfering in the peaceable exercise of liberty by any individuals of such a group.
The historical record indicates that the American Revolution had a mere 3% active support rate; that is, just 3% of the population actually supplied material support or actively engaged in resistance actions against the Crown. Extrapolating those numbers to today, when Clark County has around 400,000 inhabitants, would mean TWELVE THOUSAND people in Clark County whom would actively and physically protect each of their fellow compatriots from the rapacious coercion of the state and its enforcers. Could it be too difficult to fathom that asking 100 random people here in our county would net you three that are ready to say “no” to the tyranny of the thugs in power? Yet those same individuals know that it would be folly to do anything about it – precisely because three individuals alone would be overwhelmed by the number of agents sent to enforce their compliance.
The state has proven it is incapable and unwilling to protect the very thing it was posited with power to do in the first place, which is to protect the peaceable liberty of the people, so it is now incumbent upon the people to do it for themselves. It is my mission, my duty, to assemble and mobilize the contemporary III% in Clark County. Even an initial alliance as small as 500 people could significantly and peaceably protect the lives, fortunes and sacred honor of each other, merely because of the strength in numbers we have. Any state interloper would have to think long and hard about interfering in the peaceable exercise of liberty by any individuals of such a group.