First Against the Wall

During the days of the Prohibition and the Underground Railroad, it was exceeding difficult to get a conviction for running slaves or for possessing alcohol. The major reason is 'jury nullification.' In traditional Anglo-American law, the jury acted as the conscience of the community. It was as right and proper for the jury to grant clemency or to not implement a law as it was for a governor to grant clemency, or a legislature to enact a law. In the old days, the people acting as a jury provided a primary bulwark against government tyranny.

The doctrine of jury nullification has suffered to the point of vanishing from the legal system. The Supreme Court once ruled that the judge need not brief a jury on the doctrine as the jury nullification doctrine is common knowledge. It was not essential to brief the jury, as they already know their rights and privileges. Over the decades, this precedent has been expanded as ruthlessly as the powers of Congress. At this point, judges are taking oaths of jurors that they will abide by the judge's directions. The juries are led to believe it is their duty to follow the strict letter of law and precedent, as interpreted by the judge, not their conscience. The result vastly alters the original intent of the jury system.

I believe in rule of law. The rest of Let's Play Constitutional Convention is focused towards requiring the government to follow the letter of a written constitution. In this case, however, the dead hand of written rules is being taken too far. The government should be bound by rule of law, but rule of law should not be taken out of the hands of the People.

Most of the laws and precedents are good and proper. However there are just too many of them. Justice now requires a lawyer to manipulate all the rules to best advantage. Further, the judges and lawyers have adopted a policy of censoring the information made available to the juries, and carefully manipulating who is allowed on a jury, and who is not. Council approaches the bench or the jury leaves the court when law is discussed, as the judge's view of the law is the only view allowed to the jury. One is never put on a drug jury if one believes that drugs should be legalized. One is not put on a capitol case if one does not believe in capitol punishment. If a case involving police abuse of minorities, the case is shifted out of minority dominated districts. In short, the role of the juries in judging the government as well as the defendant has been removed. The government is changing the rules to the advantage of the government. The lawyers changing the rules to benefit the lawyers. An essential defense against tyranny has been removed.

We should not let the government move trials around. Let those who violate the law face the community where the law is violated. If their deeds inspire emotion and wrath, so be it, be the defendant outlaw or a member of the police. We should let the government and the lawyers have less say in selecting juries. We should allow less exclusion of the jury from the trial, by bench conferences, and by instructing the jury to leave the room, by forbidding the jury access to the law.

I can't propose proper wording for all of the above. The below might be a start.

It is the Right and Duty of the People, when serving on a jury as the conscience of the community, to annul execution of unjust laws, or to grant clemency should just laws be applied in such unusual context that punishment is not merited. The People when serving on juries are immune from punishment resulting from oaths requiring specific interpretations of law, from directions limiting free speech among jury members, from exclusion from jury duty based on opinion of the law, from punishments or harassment resulting from advocating a verdict not desired by the government, or for otherwise resisting or refusing attempts to tamper with a jury.

Two points are implied in the above. By using the word "immune," and "Right and Duty of the People" the privileges and immunities clause might be invoked. Thus jury nullification might be made binding on the states. Second, by listing the above as forms of jury tampering, it is intended that if anyone does attempt tampering with juries in such manners, they might be prosecuted under existing laws. I doubt I have the wording right. I feel confident in my intent.

It is the Right of the People, when accused of violating the law, to present all law and evidence that bears on the case, most specifically including the role of the jury to annul unjust laws or grant relief under unusual circumstance.
Let's Hold a Constitutional Convention

Rights - Powers - War - Jury