Pubdate: Wed, 12 May 1999
Date: 05/12/1999
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Author: John Wallace

Your Friday article "A jury's duty" by Susan Gill Vardon contained
several comments by District Judge Bob McGrath that were too
outrageous to go unchallenged.

Whether McGrath likes it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in
1794 that jury nullification is a basic, constitutional right of the
American people. Chief Justice John Jay wrote: "The jury has the right
to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."

McGrath stated that the best way for the public to influence laws is
by initiative and referendum. This may be true, but unfortunately we
Texans do not have the rights of initiative and referendum, and the
professional politicians will fight very hard to make sure that we
never get them.

He stated that "society has determined by majority vote [that
marijuana] should be regulated." I have lived in this society for 53
years, and I have `never' had the opportunity to vote on the
regulation of marijuana! The judge also stated that juries have the
power to hand out reduced sentences or probation. This may be
theoretically true in Texas, but it is certainly not true in other
states or in federal trials in which mandatory sentencing laws are in

The bottom line is that "government of the people, by the people, for
the people" is slowly but surely being replaced with "government of
the serfs, by the elite, for the special interests."

John Wallace,
San Antonio