Archive for the Category » government thinking «

January 23rd, 2010 | Author:

Do you feel powerless to stop the encroachment of our civil rights?  Are you outraged at laws that get rammed through to criminalize anything that doesn’t support big government power?  Do you want to take back your life and our Bill of Rights, but just don’t know what to do?  Well, here’s an idea.

Jury duty? Yes, jury duty. If you are called, don’t complain or try to get out of it. Use that opportunity to effect change where it matters most – right in your own community.

I learned with amazement about jury nullification a few years ago. They sure don’t teach it in public schools, and you won’t hear about it from a judge when he’s charging the jury. You won’t even see it on TV. But it’s the truth about our jury system, and I encourage you to learn just what it means.

The following quiz is taken directly from the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) website.  See if you’ve believed any government lies.

THE JURY QUIZ

TRUE OR FALSE?

1. The primary purpose of the jury is to prevent oppression by the government.

2. The jury is an independent arm of government.

3. The defendant is innocent of any criminal charge until proven guilty by the government.

4. The judge can require the jury to find the defendant guilty.

5. The jury can find the defendant not guilty, even if the defendant broke the law.

6. If the jury finds a defendant not guilty when he is clearly guilty, the judge can punish the jurors.

7. The judge decides all questions of law.

8. The jury is not required to reach a verdict.

9. The jurors can vote according to their consciences.

10. The jury must take the law as the Court gives it, whether they believe the law is right or wrong.

11. The jury can find the defendant not guilty, because they believe the law is unjust.

12. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS

1. TRUE: The criminal trial jury was created by the constitutions of the Federal and State governments to be a guardian of the individual’s rights.

Its purpose is to prevent oppression by the Government.. A right to jury trial is granted to criminal defendants in order to prevent oppression by the Government. – Justice Byron White, U.S. Supreme Court Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 US 145, 155 (1968)

The purpose of a jury is to guard against the exercise of arbitrary power….– Justice Byron White, U.S. Supreme Court Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 US 522, 530 (1975)

2. TRUE: The Constitution divided the government into three branches –the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial – in order to prevent an unhealthy concentration of government’s powers. And it created the Jury – the Fourth Branch of Government – in order to hold the first three branches in check. In order to fulfill its purpose, the Jury must be independent of the other branches of government.

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.– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Paine, 1789

3. TRUE: Under our system of government, it is a sacred principle of criminal law that the government has the burden of proving every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt and that the defendant has no burden to prove his innocence. The government makes the criminal accusation and must prove its accusation to the satisfaction of the jury.

4. FALSE: Not legally! The judge has no authority at all to compel the jury to find a defendant guilty. The jury is absolutely independent in this function.

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 law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence…If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision. – 4th Circuit Court of Appeals United States v. Moylan 417 F.2d 1006 (1969)

5. TRUE: The jury can find the defendant not guilty, regardless of what the law says, and regardless of the facts. The jury has the power to find the defendant not guilty for any reason which appeals to them. This is usually called “jury nullification” of the law. In short, the jury has a veto power over bad law and bad judges.

The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact. – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Horning v. Dist. of Columbia 249 U.S. 596 (1920)

In criminal cases, a jury is entitled to acquit the defendant because it has no sympathy for the government’s position. – U.S. v. Wilson 629 F.2d 439, 443 (1980)

6. FALSE: No one has any authority to punish a juror because of his vote. Period. This issue was resolved in 1670 in London in the case of Edward Bushell – one of the jurors in William Penn’s trial.

But juries are not bound by what seems inescapable logic to judges. – Justice Robert H. Jackson Morisette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246

7. FALSE: The judge has the authority to declare to the jury what he believes the law to be. But the jury has the authority to ignore that advice, to determine for them what the law says, and to judge for themselves the justice of the law.

It is universally conceded that a verdict of acquittal, although rendered against the instructions of the judge, is final, and cannot be set aside; and consequently that the jury have the legal power to decide for themselves the law involved in the general issue of guilty or not guilty. – Justice Gray, U.S. Supreme Court, Dissenting Sparf v. U.S., 156 U.S. 51, 172 (1894)

8. TRUE: A verdict is the guilty or not guilty decision of a jury. All jurors must agree to the verdict. Otherwise, they must report a “hung jury.” That means that the jury was unable to agree upon a verdict. Each juror is free to vote in accordance with his or her conscience and cannot be forced to vote for conviction or acquittal just to reach a verdict. In the event of a hung jury, the government may bring the defendant to trial again in front of another jury.

9. TRUE: The jurors have not only the right, but the obligation to vote according to conscience. If the jurors believe that the law itself is unjust – for any reason – they have the power to do justice by simply voting not guilty. Every juror has a right to leave court with a clear conscience.

…it is the conscience of the jury that must pronounce the prisoner guilty or not guilty. – Lord Chief Justice Mathew Hale 2 Hale PC 312 (1665)

10. FALSE: The court has no authority to dictate the law to the jury. However, many courts will force jurors to swear an oath to accept the law as the Court dictates. Such an oath violates the Constitution. But anyone refusing to take the oath will be excluded from the jury, thereby depriving the defendant of an independent jury. Such an oath is taken under duress. And nothing agreed to or sworn to under duress is binding. It is ironic that the same judge who demands that jurors take such an oath is violating his own oath to uphold the Constitution.

The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy. – Chief Justice John Jay State of Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 DALL. 1,4

The right to trial by jury shall remain inviolate…. In criminal cases, the defendant shall have a public and speedy trial by an impartial jury; and the jury shall be the judges of the law and the facts. – Georgia Constitution Art. I, § I, Par. XI (a)

11. TRUE: To be faithful to their duty, the jurors must vote not guilty, if they think the law is unjust.

It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court. – John Adams (1771) Yale Law J. 74 (1964): 173

12. FALSE: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” may have made sense centuries ago when the law confined itself to real crimes with real victims. Everyone knew that murder, rape, robbery, arson, and other such crimes were crimes. Today, with government passing thousands of new laws each year, no one can understand all his obligations under the law. If the jury does not believe that the defendant knew of his obligations under the law, it has the power to find the defendant not guilty. Ignorance of the law is an excuse if the jury says it is.

This preposterous doctrine, that “ignorance of the law excuses no one,” is asserted by courts because it is an indispensable one to the maintenance of absolute power in the government. –Lysander Spooner Massachusetts Attorney An Essay on the Trial by Jury, 1852

* * *

So, did you learn anything?  If you did, and you know other people who are ignorant of jury nullification, the FIJA website is a gold mine of information, including:

Help spread the word and maybe justice can prevail … at least in your neck of the woods.

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January 20th, 2010 | Author:

There’s an old saying that I’ve always been quite fond of:

A committee is twelve people doing the work of one.

Thanks to the brains in Washington, we’ve got another one.  The Post reports:

Faced with growing alarm over the nation’s soaring debt, the White House and congressional Democrats tentatively agreed Tuesday to create an independent budget commission and to put its recommendations for fiscal solvency to a vote in Congress by the end of this year.

Under the agreement, President Obama would issue an executive order to create an 18-member panel that would be granted broad authority to propose changes in the tax code and in the massive federal entitlement programs — including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — that threaten to drive the nation’s debt to levels not seen since World War II.

Only in Washington would you try to solve a budget problem by hiring more people.

Only in Washington would you need eighteen people instead of the standard twelve.

Only in Washington would those eighteen people be issued the “broad authority” to … propose changes.

Only in Washington.

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January 13th, 2010 | Author:

Details have begun to emerge in the case of homeschoolers Richard and Margie Cressy, who were arrested for child endangerment by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office because they didn’t submit the proper paperwork.

Two stories have piqued my interest.   The first is by Trina Darling who paraphrased the conversation of Richard Cressy when he called and spoke with local talk-show host Al Roney.  Darling has done a good job of covering this story from the beginning. The second is a letter to the editor written by the sheriff of Montgomery County, Michael Amato, who felt compelled, like Fonda-Fultonville Central School Superintendent Hoffman, to “clarify” misconceptions about this story since it’s gone national.

As these two versions of events appear to be in conflict with one another, I’m taking quotes from each story and re-arranging them to highlight the differences.  Those headed “Richard Cressy” are from the Trina Darling paraphrase.  Those headed “Sheriff Amato” are from his letter to the editor.  I have also interspersed my own comments because … it’s my blog and I can.

Sheriff Amato

These arrests were made for not meeting the responsibilities required by the state of New York for home schooling and for the protection of minor children.

Richard Cressy

Cressy said that when they moved to the town of Glen, they did not register with the Fonda-Fultonville School district.  His reason was because when they lived in the Gloversville School district, the GSD didn’t really get involved with them, or seem to care much about it.

Everyone, including the Cressy’s, acknowledge that they had not submitted paperwork, which could be stretched to fit Amato’s “not meeting the responsibilities required by the state of New York for home schooling.”  The “protection of minor children” and the child endangerment charges themselves, however, have not been justified.  Amato’s own letter confirmed that the children were not removed from the home, which would have happened if they had been in any danger.  In fact, from the same Darling article, Cressy stated that when they were arrested, they had already satisfied all the requirements of the school, and CPS was satisfied.  The sherriff’s department would not let it go.

Sheriff Amato

It is alleged that the Cressys … could not provide adequate proof that the education of their children had taken place.

Richard Cressy

Cressy was especially upset that the investigator [Gilston] reported to the media (Schenectady Gazette) that he had seen very little sign of schooling at the Cressy home, because when Gilston was at their home, they tried to show him their home school materials, and started getting out books and supplies, and he responded to them that he didn’t need to look at it, and then turned around and reported that he had seen very little evidence.

People usually see what they want to see, as any good investigator who has interviewed witnesses will confirm.

Sheriff Amato

The Cressys were simply issued appearance tickets to appear in court for violating a law

Richard Cressy

Richard and Margie met with the FFSD and got everything set for “now on”. In spite of that, Investigator Gilston told them that it was quite possible that the sheriff’s department would make an example out of them, and this way, it won’t happen in the future. Cressy said that Gilston made this statement a few days before their arrest. He also stated that the sheriff’s department had wanted to arrest them right before Christmas, but that Montgomery County CPS had talked them out of it, so they had waited until after Christmas. Cressy continued by saying that CPS had been very helpful to his family, helping them to get back on track, legal with the school board and the state, but that the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department just wouldn’t seem to let it pass, or let it go.

“Simply issued appearance tickets” sounds so innocuous.  In fact, they were fingerprinted, their mugshots were sent with a press release to several local news outlets, and Investigator Gilston was giving interviews – all to make a point.  The Cressy’s now have an arrest record, they have lost their privacy, and  their lives have been completely disrupted – not to mention the effect this all has had on their children.

Sheriff Amato

The sheriff and staff of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office are required to enforce the law. It is the sworn duty to investigate reported violations and make arrests when that law is violated. The goal of enforcement is to hold those in violation accountable for their actions and attempt to prevent it from occurring in the future.

Quite frankly, this is a load of hogwash.  Every sheriff’s officer has the discretion to arrest, to warn, or to ignore.  In addition, there are multiple laws on the books that are rarely, if ever, enforced – including adultery.  If they decide to enforce that one, then half the sheriff’s department will probably wind up in jail.

It’s worth noting that this is the same Sheriff’s office, with the same Sheriff, who cost Montgomery County millions in a class-action lawsuit over their policy of strip searching everybody they could get their hands on.

A class action lawsuit was filed against the county on behalf of people who were strip searched in jail while facing only minor charges. U.S. District Judge David Hurd issued a permanent injunction barring the Montgomery County Jail from routinely requiring inmates charged with minor crimes to strip and shower in front of a guard. Montgomery County agreed to put $2 million into a fund to pay claims from people strip searched between April 29, 2000 and March 25, 2005. Inmates jailed on misdemeanors, violations, traffic infractions, probation or parole violations or other minor crimes and civil matters are eligible to make claims. (Aug-23-06) [NEWSDAY]

Shame on you, Mike Amato.  Shame on you, Bill Gilston.  Go find some real criminals and leave the Cressy’s alone.

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December 27th, 2009 | Author:

One thing I’d like to point out here is that the system worked.

-Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, who gets paid $193,300 a year to share her brilliance and keep the system working

Huh? A terrorist got through security with explosives, he tried to set them off but they failed, a Dutch passenger dove over four (American?) passengers, searched the terrorist, found the bomb, put out the fire with his bare hands, and took the terrorist in a choke hold to the front of the plane.

If this is the system that worked, then we should import some more Dutch people and fire Janet Napolitano.

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