The rights and duty of a jury
If a juror feels that the statute involved in any criminal offence is unfair, of that infringes on the defendant’s natural God-given unalienable or constitutional rights, then it is his duty to affirm that the offending statute is really no law at all and that the violation of it is no crime at all, for no one is bound to obey an unjust law.
US Chief Justice Harlan F Stone; Harvard Law review
Democracy (real meaning-and its prevalence)
It cannot be denied that the practice of submitting causes to the decision of twelve men was universal among all the northern tribes (of Europe) from the very remotest antiquity.
p. 32 Crabbe’s ‘A History of English Law; or an Attempt to Trace the Rise, Progress and Successive Changes of the Common Law; from the Earliest Period to the Present Time’
Churchill, on Importance of Trial by Jury
The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi of Communist.
Sir Winston Churchill. Excerpt of telegram from Cairo to UK Home Secretary November 21st 1943
General Support of Trial by Jury
The Trial by Jury ever has been, and I trust ever will be, looked upon as the glory of the English law. It is the most transcendent privilege which any subject can enjoy or wish for, that he cannot be affected in his property, his liberty or his person, but by the unanimous consent of twelve of his neighbours and equals.
Book 3, Blackstone’s Analysis of the Laws of England, p. 379
US Constitutional Convention - The Power of Jury Independence
If a juror or any citizen accepts as the law that which the judge states, then that juror or citizen has accepted the exercise of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered a power and right that was once the citizen’s safeguard of liberty. The saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while there was time.
Statement attributed by Bancroft in ‘History of the US Constitution’ to Judge Theophilus Parsons at the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention
Penn and Mead Case: Jury Independence
Near this site William Penn and William Mead were tried in 1670 for preaching to an unlawful assembly in Grace Church Street. This tablet commemorates the courage and endurance of the Jury, Thos [Thomas] Vere, Edward Bshell and ten others who refused to give a verdict against them although locked up without food for two nights and were fined for their final verdict of Not Guilty.
The case of the Jurymen was reviewed on a writ of Habeas Corpus and Chief Justice Vaughan delivered the opinion of the Court which established “The Right of Juries” to give their Verdict according to their Convictions.
The Right and Duty of Jurors to Judge on the Justice of the Law. The Commemorative Plaque, Old Bailey Law Courts, London
Hume describes Trial by Jury as...
An Institution admirable in itself, and the best calculated for the preservation of liberty and the administration of justice, that was ever devised by the wit of man.
David Hume’s History of England, Chapter 2
The Great Charter is Real Common Law
It is agreed by all our historians that the Great Charter of King John was, for the most part, compiled from the ancient customs of the realm, or the laws of Edward the Confessor; by which they mean the old common law, which was established under our Saxon princes.
Blackstone’s Introduction to the (Great) Charters; Blackstone’s Law Tracts, p. 289
The Great Charter is Real Common Law
It (Magna Carta) was for the most part declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws of England. They (Magna Carta and Carta de Foresta) were, for the most part, but declarations of the ancient common laws of England, to the observation and keeping whereof the king (the government) was bound and sworn.
Sir Edward Coke (Chief Justice), Preface to 2 Coke’s Institutes
Out Constitution pre-dates Magna Carta 1215
Alfred, Edgar and Edward the Confessor, were the great compilers and restorers of the English Laws.
Robert Kelham. P. 12 of Kelham’s Preliminary Discourse on the Laws of William the Conqueror
Alexis de Tocqueville on Trial by Jury
The jury ‘Is both the most effective way of establishing the people’s rule and the most efficient way of teaching them to rule’
de Tocqueville described the jury as ‘a political institution embodying the sovereignty of the people’ and ‘the very best way of preparing a people to be free’
(1988:273 - 274)
Under the Constitution, the King/Queen is not all-powerful
The king, so far from being invested with arbitrary power, was only considered as the first among the citizens; his authority depended more upon his personal qualities than on his station; he was even so far on a level with the people that a stated price was fixed for his head, and a legal fine was levied upon his murderer, which, though proportionate to his station and superior to that paid for the life of a subject, was a sensible mark of his subordination to the community.
See Appendix 1 of David Hume's History of England
The Jury were the Judges - and judged both Law and Fact
No cause of consequence was determined without the king's writ; for even in the county courts, of the debts which were above forty shillings, there issued a Justicies (commission) to the sheriff, to enable him to hold such a plea, where the suitors (jurors) are judges of the law and fact.
Introduction, p.19, Gilbert's History of the Common Pleas