Pubdate: Sat, 16 Sep 2000
Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Copyright: 2000 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact:  400 W. Colfax, Denver, CO 80204
Website: http://www.denver-rmn.com/
Author: Joe Johnson
Bookmark: additional articles on Colorado are available at 
http://www.mapinc.org/states/co.htm

JURY NULLIFICATION IS A LEGAL RECOURSE

In a Sept. 9 letter, Frank Boyle argued that jury nullification is illegal 
and somehow in violation of a juror's oath. Obviously, this argument 
totally ignores the historical reasoning behind the adoption of the jury 
system in the first place. But there's no time for a history lesson here; 
we have too much work to do educating people in the present.

First, Boyle stated that O.J. Simpson's was a case of jury nullification. 
This is simply false. No juror in that case ever argued that murder should 
be legal!

Second, jury nullification is a legal recourse against bad laws. All 
attorneys, judges and, yes, lawmakers, take an oath to uphold the U.S. and 
state constitutions. When this oath is violated (as it is often lately), it 
is the responsibility of the individual governing body to impeach the 
violator. However, our founders knew that this is a case of the children 
guarding the candy dish. It is for this reason that we expect juries to 
acquit defendants who are charged with unconstitutional crimes.

The federal drug war is a perfect example. The Ninth and 10th amendments 
state very clearly that the U.S. government does not have the right to 
outlaw anything that a person ingests, injects or inhales. (It was for this 
reason that alcohol prohibition was adopted by constitutional amendment; 
they honored the Constitution back then.) Therefore, anyone accused of a 
federal drug charge is constitutionally innocent, regardless of the law, 
and it is the obligation of the juries to vote for acquittal.

It's the Constitution, people  defend it or continue to lose it!

Joe Johnson

Lafayette
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