What is Jury Immunity?
Do not give up your jury rights. Cannabis
prosecutions often end with judges giving the following
jury instructions: "You cannot substitute your sense of justice, whatever that is, for your duty to follow
the law. You must follow the law as I give it to you."
Or what? What would happen to the jurors if they did what they thought was just? Would the jury go to prison?
Be fined? How would the judge know if the jury thought the law was unjust? Must juries explain their verdicts?
What would happen to the jurors? The answer is nothing.
Nothing will happen to the jurors. Juries are not forced to explain their verdicts and they are immune from punishment. So while the Supreme Court allows judges to give jury instructions that seem to threaten the jury, the same Justices protect juries from punishment, as seen in the Ed Rosenthal case (see WCC #3).
What about jury selection and jury oaths? Judges and prosecutors are allowed to question potential jurors about their political beliefs and force them to take an oath before serving on a jury.
I see this as an ethical dilemma for citizens. Would you give up your right to vote in an election if you had to take an oath first? Or, would you take the oath and then vote as you thought best?
Each citizen must decide for themselves how valuable their rights are, and how easily they give them away. Will you disclose your political beliefs and be screened off a jury? Or, will you quietly protect your own right to a jury trial by not letting the court stack the jury when you are in the jury pool?
If more citizens saw being a juror as a valuable right, instead of a duty, the unjust and counterproductive policy
of cannabis prohibition would end quickly. Prosecutors,
after losing many cases, would stop prosecuting. Then police would stop arresting, then the legislature would be forced to change the laws.
Thomas Jefferson said, "Freedom is the only thing you cannot have without giving to everyone else."