Patterico's Pontifications

8/29/2006

Yeccccchhh . . .

Filed under: Real Life — Patterico @ 6:35 pm

I’d hate to be some schlub headed for Grand Bahama Island tomorrow — during a hurricane watch.

But I am.

P.S. I am disabling comments. mostly because there are know-it-alls out there dying to explain to me why I was stupid to book a Bahamas trip during hurricane season, and I don’t feel like justifying myself or reading such comments. Those of you who are decent hope we encounter no problems; I already know that and appreciate it.

Gotta love the Internet.

UPDATE: Looks like the hurricane watch has been cancelled, although a tropical storm warning remains in effect. So this leg of the trip is not likely to be disastrous, just very rain-filled.

Is Jury Nullification Ever Appropriate?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:14 pm

There are few absolutes in this world. That doesn’t invalidate general principles.

For example, I believe soldiers should follow orders.

But if a superior orders the soldier to murder a young child out of revenge for another soldier’s death, the soldier should disregard the order.

Am I a liar for having claimed that I believe soldiers should follow orders?

No. The fact that you can posit a very rare scenario to the contrary does not invalidate my basic principle: soldiers should follow orders. It simply means that there are few absolutes in this world.

Similarly, let’s assume you are against torturing people by poking out their eyes. If I could paint you a scenario where you could save millions only by torturing an evil man by poking out his eyes, you’d do it.

That doesn’t mean you’re for it. And it doesn’t render your statement of opposition meaningless.

I am against jury nullification. Some have advanced extreme examples that either would never occur in the real world, or where the moral choice is so clear that it would be obvious, except to those blinding themselves to their own humanity for the sake of consistency.

I would vote to acquit someone charged with the “crimes” of being Jewish, or saving slaves.

That doesn’t mean I support jury nullification.

The jury is an important bulwark against the state.

But if a drug dealer is the scourge of a Compton neighborhood, creating a heightened risk of drive-by shootings from rival drug dealers, as well as a generally lower quality of life, the people of that neighborhood should not be subjected to that drug dealer because some wine-sipping libertarian from the Westside decides that, in his opinion, drug dealing is a victimless crime and he won’t convict even if the evidence is overwhelming.

Let the wine-sipper lobby his Assemblyman, or start an initiative. The jury room is not the place to change the law. Juries are not freestanding Legislatures of 12, and to allow them to act as such is to undermine the Rule of Law.

This is my point.

Why the Oath to Follow the Law is Not Coercive

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am

Thanks for all the responses to my nullification question yesterday. I will address some of the major recurring arguments as time permits.

First, many of you argued that requiring jurors to swear an oath to follow the law is coercive. You believe that the court would hold a juror in contempt for failing to take the oath — a threat that would prevent jurors from following their conscience.

This argument shows an unfamiliarity with the jury selection process, which is designed to weed out jurors who can’t follow the law before they are selected to be on a jury.

Nobody in the courtroom wants to put jurors in a position where they will be voting in a manner contrary to their conscience. That’s why the court spends hours on jury selection: to make sure jurors understand the rules, and to give them a chance to tell the court if they can’t live by them.

Jurors are always asked whether they can follow the law. They are told to say so if they can’t.

The oath comes at the end of the process, when the jury has been chosen.

I’ve never seen a juror who refused to take the oath to follow the law. But if it happened, the judge almost certainly would not respond with a threat of contempt. He would ask the juror why he is not taking the oath. If the juror said: “Because I can’t promise to follow the law,” the judge would ensure that the juror was not saying this to get out of jury service.

If it appeared that the juror was sincere, the judge would likely say something along these lines:

Why in the world didn’t you tell us this during jury selection? Between the lawyers’ questions and mine, we must have asked the prospective jurors in fifty different ways whether you could follow the law. And you never said a word. Why not?

After this lecture, the juror would be excused for cause.

Nobody is coerced into taking an oath to follow the law. The question is: if you can’t follow the law, would you lie to get on the jury, take an oath to follow the law — and then disregard it?

The Illegal Link: Orwell’s Copyright Police State – Reloaded

Filed under: Civil Liberties,General,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 4:17 am

[Posted by Justin Levine] 

Warning!!! Do not click on this link unless you live in Russia, Canada or Australia. Otherwise, you will be committing a federal crime as well as “stealing” from a man who has been dead for over 50 years!

For each literary work that you read from the above link, you can be subjected to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine! So for the love of God – DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!

Butif you happen to be blogging from an underground bunker on the Russian/Siberian border, as I am right now (“cough, cough”), you might want to (more…)


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