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
Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction...if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong. - Alexander Hamilton, 1804
Another apprehension [about the French Revolution] is, that a majority cannot be induced to adopt the trial by jury; and I consider that 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 Tom Paine, 1789
"In any nation in which people's rights have been subordinated to the rights of the few, in any totalitarian nation, the first institution to be dismantled is the jury. I was, I am, afraid." --Gerry Spence
We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read. - Mark Twain
A jury is the most ingenious and infallible agency for defeating justice that human wisdom could contrive. - Mark Twain
.....it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact, and to refer the law arising on it to the decision of the judges. But this division of the subject lies with their discretion only. And if the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both law and fact. - Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on Virginia," 1782
It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision.....you have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy. - Chief Justice John Jay, Georgia v. Brailsford, 1794
Petty juries, consisting usually of twelve men, attend courts to try matters of fact in civil causes, and to decide both the law and the fact in criminal prosecutions. The decision of a petty jury is called a verdict. - Noah Webster, Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
In the trial of all criminal cases, the Jury shall be the Judges of Law, as well as of fact, except that the Court may pass upon the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a conviction - Article XXIII, Constitution of the State of Maryland
In all criminal cases whatsoever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts. - Article I, §19, Constitution of the State of Indiana
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 issues of guilty or not guilty. - Justices Gray and Shiras, Sparf and Hansen v. United States, 1894, dissent
It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their choice, if the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they... undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow-- James Madison
The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both the law and the facts. - Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Horning v. District of Columbia, 1920
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, 1969
[The jury has an] unreviewable and irreversible power...to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge...The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard uncontradicted evidence and instructions of the judge; for example, acquittals under the fugitive slave law. - D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Unites States v. Dougherty, 1972
Justice BYRON WHITE (Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 US 145, 155-156 (1968)):
· "A right to jury trial is granted to criminal defendants in order to prevent oppression by the Government."
· "Those who wrote our constitutions knew from history and experience that it was necessary to protect against unfounded criminal charges brought to eliminate enemies and against judges too responsive to the voice of higher authority."
· "Providing an accused with the right to be tried by a jury of his peers gave him an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge. If the defendant preferred the common-sense judgment of a jury to the more tutored but perhaps less sympathetic reaction of the single judge, he was to have it."
Justice BYRON WHITE (Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 US 522, 530 (1975)): "The purpose of a jury is to guard against the exercise of arbitrary power -- to make available the commonsense judgment of the community as a hedge against the overzealous or mistaken prosecutor and in preference to the professional or perhaps overconditioned or biased response of a judge."
Justice THURGOOD MARSHALL (Peters v. Kiff, 407 US 493, 502 (1972)): "Illegal and unconstitutional jury selection procedures cast doubt on the integrity of the whole judicial process. They create the appearance of bias in the decision of individual cases, and they increase the risk of actual bias as well."
U.S. v. DOUGHERTY, 473 F.2d. 1113, 1139 (1972): "The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge...."
U.S. vs. DOUGHERTY (1972) [D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals]: The jury has...."unreviewable and irreversible power...to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge."
(Sparf v U.S. 156 U.S. 51, 1895), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that although juries have the right to ignore a judge's instructions on the law, the jury shouldn't be aware of it. The judicial hypocrisy on this issue started with this decision that has never been changed. If it seems strange that citizens have a right they aren't supposed to know about, it IS strange.
Byron White (1975): The purpose of a jury is to guard against the exercise of arbitrary power--to make available the common sense judgement of the community as a hedge against the overzealous or mistaken prosecutor and in preference to the professional or perhaps over conditioned or biased response of a judge.
"The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy." - Chief Justice John Jay, U.S. Supreme Court Georgia v Brailsford (3 Dallas 1, 1794)
"The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts." - - Samuel Chase, Supreme Court Justice 1804 signer of The Declaration of Independence.