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Judges Will Have to Inform Jurors of Jury Nullification in New Hampshire if This Bill is Signed into Law

In dealing with the corruption and criminals in our government who falsely accuse the citizens they serve and seek to imprison them, it seems their time is coming to an end. The New Hampshire House has become the first in the US to pass a bill which would require judges to inform jurors of jury nullification.

HB1270, the new bill that just passed the New Hampshire House requires the court to instruct the jurors that the jury determines the applicability of the law to the facts of the case.

According to the bill, “The legislature finds that the New Hampshire Constitution, Part 1, Article 21 identifies trial by jury to be an inestimable privilege indicating its importance in the application of law and justice.  Furthermore, Part 1, Article 12 identifies a role of the people in approving law; the only location for this consent is the jury.”

The bill repeals and reenacts RSA 519:23-a to read:

In all criminal proceedings the court shall inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.  The jury instruction shall be as follows:  “The test you must use is this:  If you have a reasonable doubt as to whether the state has proved any one or more of the elements of the crime charged, you must find the defendant not guilty.  If you find that the law does not apply to the proven facts of the case, you must find the defendant not guilty.  However, if you find, that the state has proved all of the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, but you find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, you may find the defendant not guilty.”    

Here is really the last line of defense for citizens against a tyrannical government.

The Free Thought project commented on one of the most significant cases of jury nullification in New Hampshire, which occurred in 2012.

One of the most significant cases of jury nullification happened in New Hampshire in 2012, when the jury acquitted Doug Darrell of felony drug charges. Darrell was cultivating cannabis plants in his backyard for medicinal and religious purposes and, although guilty under the law, the jury refused to convict Darrell.

Defense attorney Mark Sisti utilized the existing New Hampshire law to request that the judge read aloud the right to jury nullification. This proved pivotal in securing Darrell’s freedom.

“Juror Cathleen Converse, self-described as a “straitlaced little old lady,” explained her reasoning in an interview with Free Talk Live.

“Mr. Darrell is a peaceful man,” she said. “He grows for his own personal religious and medicinal use. I knew that my community would be poorer rather than better off had he been convicted.”

If you think this is a form of lawlessness, think again. The Cato Institute points out, “You can’t find references to ‘jury nullification’ around the time of the American Revolution.  That’s because it was considered to be part and parcel of what a jury trial was all about.  If jurors thought the government was treating someone unjustly, they could acquit and restore that person’s liberty.  Jury trials were celebrated–and explicit provisions were put into the Constitution so that the government could not take them away.”

Thomas Jefferson said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution.”

As Ben Swann has reported, jury nullification has existed since the time of the founding fathers.

The honorable Theo. Parsons at the MA convention of 1788 answering concerns that the proposed US Constitution had as yet no Bill of Rights replied: “The people themselves have it in their power effectually to resist usurpation, without being driven to an appeal to arms…Let him be considered as a criminal by the general government, yet only his fellow citizens can convict him; they are his jury, and if they pronounce him innocent, not all the powers of Congress can hurt him; and innocent they certainly will pronounce him if the supposed law he resisted was an act of usurpation.” (2 Elliot’s Debates, 94; Bancroft, History of the Constitution, 267).

This principle was put into action before the Civil War when some who helped slaves escape to freedom were brought to trial having violated the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The juries back then knew that the Constitution gave them the right to judge the law as well as the accused person. When jury after jury responded “NOT GUILTY” in spite of the evidence, the judge’s hands were tied; they were thus prevented from assessing penalties! Even the US Supreme Court can not override the ruling of a jury. Congress got the message and the laws were changed.

In the first jury trial before the Supreme Court (Feb of 1794), the Supreme Court judges told the jury, “…it is presumed, that the juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that the courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision… You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy.” (State of Georgia vs. Brailsford, et al, 3 Dall.I).

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court (1789) summarized it thus, “The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” This was echoed by Oliver Wendell Holmes, US Supreme Court Justice (1902), “The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact” as well as by Harlan F. Stone, 12th Chief Justice, US Supreme Ct. (1941), “The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided.” US vs Moylan, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1969 instructs, “If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the evidence.”

This is a fortunate thing arising from our Founding Fathers’ distrust of any type of government or any of its branches with or without checks and balances. Therefore they made sure that guilt would be decided only by fellow citizens, not by judges, and not by politicians! 

So, this will give people the opportunity to determine if pretended laws are even lawful and thus nullify at the jury level what, in many cases, their own states won’t nullify. I hope New Hampshire will make this law and more states will get behind this type of legislation.

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