Juries protect society from dangerous individuals and also protect individuals from dangerous government. Jurors have a duty and responsibility to render a just verdict. They must take into account the facts of the case, mitigating circumstances, the merits of the law, and the fairness of its application in each case. The recognition of the authority and right of jurors to weigh the merits of the law and to render a verdict based on conscience, dates from before the writing of our Constitution, in cases such as those of William Penn and Peter Zenger. Should this right ever be suppressed, the people will retain the right to resist, having an unalienable right to veto or nullify bad and oppressive laws, and in fact then would be morally compelled to do so.
Jurors, as the representatives of the people, hold no personal agenda during any trial and most certainly not the government’s agenda. Let us not forget that the prosecutors, judges, arresting officers and the forensic investigators in most cases are all a part of and receive their paychecks from government, with personal power bases to build and personal careers to protect through the productivity of successful prosecutions resulting in convictions. Jurors have no such stake in the outcome, and are, in fact, the only truly objective individuals in the courtroom.
The role of our jurors is to protect private citizens from dangerous government laws and actions. Many existing laws erode and deny the rights of the people. Jurors protect against tyranny by refusing to convict harmless people. Our country’s founders planned and expected that we, the people, would exercise this power and authority to judge the law as well as the facts every time we serve as jurors. Juries are the last peaceful defense of our civil liberties.
FIJA works to restore and protect the role of the juror, and the institution of Trial by Jury. We sponsor educational seminars for legal professionals, publish commentary, develop and present Amicus briefs when the institution of the jury is at issue, provide interviews to the media, speak at functions and in classrooms, and of course distribute educational literature. Our newsletter The American Juror is published quarterly. We articulate that the authority of the jury is the right that protects all other rights.