The trial of Ammon Bundy and six of his cohorts is ramping up. Their crime, for those unfamiliar with the case, occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But it’s already obvious that the trail is a formality and the verdict is predetermined as the judge is rigging the trail:
The judge also said she intends to question each juror on whether they were handed a flier outside court about jury nullification, and to instruct them that they must follow the law even if they disagree with it. Judge Brown said deputy U.S. marshals indicated there may be people outside court distributing such fliers.
Regardless of what you think about the occupation itself, the fact that the judge is telling jurors that they can’t exercise their rights should be concerning. It goes against the very purpose of having jury trials and all but guarantees a guilty verdict for Bundy and his buddies.
If you research how juries work you will learn that they don’t have to rule based on the written law. A jury isn’t punished regardless of its ruling or the reason behind that ruling. If a jury rules against the written law that’s entirely acceptable. The lack of punishment for juries was deliberate and was meant to act as a check against erroneous laws. But more and more courts are applying pressure to juries to rule in the “right” way. As this pressure increases jury trials will shift away from being a mechanism of determining actual fault and towards being mere legal formalities. As that shift continues one of the last avenues of saving people from the depravities of the State will be lost.
I won’t be surprised if we see a day where juries that rule the “wrong” way are punished. Perhaps in the near future jurors will be told what the “right” verdict is by the judge and any jurors who rule otherwise will be held in contempt of court.