If you are called for jury duty in a criminal trial
Don't try to get out of it. Someone's life may depend on the jury rendering
the right verdict, and it may take you to make sure that is done.
During questioning of the jury candidates, play dumb. Don't admit to much
knowledge of the law. If asked about the right of the jury to judge the law, or
about jury nullification, only admit to having read about it somewhere, but
that you haven't given it much thought.
During the trial look for signs of judicial or prosecutorial abuse. Ask
whether it is a political trial, whether the accused might have been engaged in
political activity that might cause the authorities to want to persecute him,
or whether the prosecutor might want to get a conviction regardless of whether
the accused is guilty. If you suspect the accused is being framed, acquit him.
If during opening statements the defense describes evidence it is going to
offer, and then you never hear that evidence, or if you suspect there is
evidence or argument the defense is not being allowed to present, ask whether
the judge refused to allow that evidence or argument to be presented. If you
suspect he did, acquit the accused.
Try to discern whether the accused is being represented by a public
defender, who works for the government, not for the accused, and whether the
defense counsel, whoever it is, is making as good a defense as you would want
if you were the accused. If he isn't, acquit the accused.
Don't blindly accept testimony by law enforcement officials, especially if
their organizations have developed a reputation for corruption and abuse of
rights. "Testilying" has become so common that you need to be
especially skeptical of such testimony and the evidence they testify about. If
you suspect they are lying, acquit the accused.
Don't be swayed by emotional arguments or testimony. The lawyers and
witnesses may be great actors. Ask how you would view the proceedings if you
were the accused, and you were innocent. Try to discern the facts that lie
behind the performances. If you can't, acquit the accused.
During jury deliberations, ask the judge for copies of the statute that
authorizes the charge against the accused, and a copy of the constitution with
the provisions marked that authorize the statute. If the judge refuses to give
you either, then acquit the accused.
If you have any other reason to suspect that the rights of the accused have
been violated, that proper procedure has not been followed, or that the charge
is not authorized by a constitutional statute, ask for explanations, and if you
don't get satisfactory explanations, then acquit the accused.
Despite what instructions the judge may give, remember that the jury must
only be unanimous to convict, not to acquit. A "hung jury" should be
impossible. A vote for conviction on any offense should be considered a vote
for conviction of all lesser included offenses, so that the verdict should be
the maximum included offense on which all jurors agree, which would be innocent
if at least one juror holds out for acquittal. If that happens, and he can't be
convinced to change his position, then report acquittal.
Ask yourself whether the judge's instructions to the jury make sense, or are
an attempt to manipulate the jury to get a conviction. If you are unclear on
any point, ask for a clarification. If you don't get a satisfactory one, acquit
If you discern any judicial, prosecutorial, or witness misconduct, after the
trial is over, follow through and investigate it. If you find solid evidence,
take it to appropriate authorities and to the media. Write about your
experiences while the memory is still fresh.
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