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Posts Tagged ‘jury duty’

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification?

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification? by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Drug War is a total failure. What started out and continues as a way to target minorities for discriminatory police attention has become one of the biggest domestic and foreign policy failures in our history. One set of beneficiaries of this domestic and foreign “war” are the police officers, the prosecutors and the judges who are paid drug-war-subsidized salaries. The only other beneficiaries are the cartels and gangs that were formed to take full advantage of this controlled, high value market. The gun-toting gangs and the shootings on our streets are the bloody pay-off we get along with the tax bill we pay to support this deadly boondoggle. We continue to pay for years for each conviction, resulting in the largest per-capita prison population on the planet. Don’t you just love getting so much value for your hard earned tax dollars?

When legislators pass bad criminal laws and police, prosecutors and judges continue the charade by enforcing the bad law via the criminal justice system, the public has few options to stop the ongoing tragedy.

The root of the problem is bad law; so going after the law makers is one route to take. But this is very slow and subject to the usual political BS. Washington and Colorado have recently passed laws legalizing limited pot sales, possession and use. The Feds will probably try to coerce the states to counter the voters’ will. We do not have to sit still for that.

There is a tool we have as citizens that is little known and seldom invoked that might break the back of the Drug War. It’s not a total solution; and it has some potential negative side-effects to consider. But it might speed up the process of converting the “war” into the medical/mental health issue it actually is.

[At this point I feel the need to state that I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I am a citizen and voter and have a right to speak out. The law belongs to the people, not the lawyers.]

What I propose is a minor rebellion. What if no court of law, federal, state or local, could get a jury to convict a person technically (under Federal law) guilty of limited drug sales, possession or use in the States of Washington and Colorado? What if this rebellion spread across all 50 States? See my earlier post on jury nullification and think about it.

Of course, the legislators who pass irrational, illogical, unenforceable laws and the police, prosecutors and judges who get paid to enforce these laws don’t want the public to be fully informed about such a subversive concept. So get informed and spread the word. If we can cripple the courts on these cases and, at the same time, pressure the law makers to eliminate the laws and funding underlying the war, we can have success in years, rather than generations.

What do you think?

 

 

Prosecutorial Intimidation Subverts Criminal Justice System

Prosecutorial Intimidation Subverts Criminal Justice System by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

An opinion piece in a recent New York Times SundayReview raises an issue that goes to the heart of the criminal justice system as it plays out in our current society. It asks where the justice is in a system that coerces most people accused of crime into accepting plea deals over jury trials.

According to the author, over 90% of criminal cases are never heard by juries. That means that over 90% of the accused cede their constitutional rights to trial by jury to accept plea deals. These plea deals are often portrayed by prosecutors as easy ways out of facing far more onerous outcomes if the accused insists on trial by jury. That means that the peoples’ power to determine the facts of all these cases and to decide the fate of the accused has been taken away by a system more interested in incarceration than justice.

I would also ask where the justice is in a system that replaces due process and the presumption of innocence with what amounts to backroom kangaroo courts run by prosecutors. Prosecutors represent the State. The power to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt belongs to the people.

The author also points out that the court system would collapse if everyone accused of crime insisted on jury trials. There wouldn’t be enough money and judges to handle the flood of trials that would result.

Maybe that’s what we need to open people’s eyes to a system of “justice” that fills prisons with minor offenders who could be better dealt with in community based programs.

The US has about 5% of the world’s population and almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. We also have a growing corporate prison industry that thrives on incarcerating as many people as possible and keeping them in lock up while they profit at the taxpayers expense.

This whole situation smells.

See my blog post about jury nullification, another way for the people to exercise their rights as citizen jurors to correct injustice.

 

 

 

 

Mock Juries for Mock Trials

Mock Juries for Mock Trials by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Serve on mock juries for mock trials; and no one has to go to jail.

Whether or not you have ever been on a jury, if you wish to have some experience and education on the matter, you might try what my wife and I have done and thoroughly enjoyed on a summer weekend for each of the last two years. We plan on doing it again next summer.

We act as jurors in mock civil and criminal trials argued by practicing lawyers in front of practicing judges.

The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) trains practicing lawyers to be more effective trial lawyers.

A bit about NITA from their website at http://www.nita.org/:

“NITA’s Mission Statement

“NITA, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a dedicated team of professors, judges and practicing lawyers who believe that skilled and ethical advocacy is a critical component of legal professionalism and all systems of dispute resolution that seek justice.

“NITA’s mission is to:

* Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy;
* Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice; and
* Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.

“NITA’s Mission Statement defines NITA and articulates its Mission. We will fulfill our Mission through NITA’s Goals and Objectives to be carried out through a Strategic Plan outlining NITA’s programs and publications.

“NITA Long-Range Goals and Objectives

“NITA’s Goals and Objectives are to:

* Enable and encourage lawyers to become effective, ethical and professional advocates.
* Create and promote the highest quality professional and ethical advocacy training and educational materials.
* Support and assist the Judicial System in providing the important, effective administration and resolution of disputes.
* Encourage, support and assist advocacy training for and dedication to public service.”

You can participate for both days or either day. If you do both days, you hear a civil case on one day and a criminal case on the other.

You sit in court, listen to the arguments, select a jury foreman, weigh the evidence and present your verdict to the court.

One thing that happens in these mock trials that doesn’t happen in real life is the post-trial discussion involving the judge, the attorneys and the jurors. The trial experience and the post-trial discussion provide an incredibly educational and entertaining way to spend a day or two.

They give you a small stipend and a box lunch each day. You meet and spend the day with some really nice people.

Go to the NITA website at http://www.nita.org/and explore.

Find out where the programs entitled “Building Trial Skills” are being held and contact them about your interest in participating as a juror in the mock trials. If they haven’t already filled the juror pool, volunteer. I believe you will find the experience (plus the stipend and the lunch) to be well worth your time.

 
© 2012 HSI Investigations, A Seattle Private Investigator