Patterico's Pontifications


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…)


More on Greg Mitchell

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Media Bias,Real Life — Patterico @ 5:11 pm

Allah has more on the weaselly Editor & Publisher editor-in-chief, and his attempts to whitewash history.

P.S. By the way, I had the rare privilege of meeting Allah last night. He is every bit as even-tempered, intelligent, and interesting as I’d been led to believe — and ladies, he’s quite good-looking to boot. And, contrary to Glenn Greenwald’s representations, he’s not the slightest bit hysterical or screeching. Neither was Karol Sheinin, who was also very pleasant and engaging. An excellent time all around.

The Steve Centanni Kidnapping

Filed under: General — Justin Levine @ 10:38 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

As Patterico noted in timely fashion, Steve Centanni from Fox News has been released by his Palestinian kidnappers, along with cameraman Olaf Wiig.

This was the conversation I had with Centanni well over a year ago (We often ask Fox correspondents to come on the Bill Handel Show to help out with national or international news coverage that our local reporters can’t cover themselves.): (more…)

Question for Those Who Support Jury Nullification

Filed under: Law — Patterico @ 7:24 am

I think we all agree that police should not lie under oath, even as to matters of probable cause, even when the defendant is clearly guilty. Their oath is more important than any private desire to see what they believe is “justice” served in any one particular case — if “justice” means twisting the law and violating their oath. Any officer who decides for himself what the law ought to be, in violation of his oath to tell the truth on the stand, is a “rogue cop” and a criminal.

But jurors take an oath, too: an oath to follow the law as set forth in the court’s instructions. In California, jurors cannot serve unless they first raise their right hand and answer “yes” to the following question:

Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will well and truly try the case now pending before this court, and a true verdict render according only to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the court?

A juror cannot serve unless he answers this question “yes.” Like all questions answered by jurors, this answer is given under penalty of perjury.

And the instructions of the court mandate that jurors must follow the law, and not be swayed by sympathy, compassion, prejudice, or other emotions.

To supporters of jury nullification: would you violate your oath to follow the law, given under penalty of perjury, in order to bend the law to your own personal conception of “justice” in a particular case?

If so, what makes you different from a rogue cop who lies about probable cause in order to convict a guilty criminal?

P.S. It’s a dodge to say that the Constitution provides for (or the Founding Fathers believed in) jury nullification. The oath is a promise to follow the court’s instructions, not some abstract view of “the law” as you believe the Founding Fathers intended you to apply it.

Would you take the oath, or not? Would you faithfully apply it, or not?

Let the rationalizing begin!

(Remember to mention Nazis!)


Centanni Released

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 pm

Michelle Malkin reports that Steve Centanni has been released — but only after he was forced (at gunpoint) to convert to Islam.

I don’t blame the guy. I’m glad he’s home with his family.

Congratulations to Xrlq

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:16 pm

On the birth of his son.

See Dubya with the Al Qaeda Connection

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 pm

This post by See-Dubya is worth a read.


It’s Not the Crime, It’s the Coverup — Part Sixty-Two

Filed under: Media Bias,Morons — Patterico @ 7:28 am


After Greg Mitchell, the editor-in-chief of Editor & Publisher, ran a disingenuous piece on Reutersgate, Bob Owens quoted from a Mitchell piece in which Mitchell copped to making up quotes from people he couldn’t be bothered to talk to. After Bob’s piece got widespread recognition, an interesting thing happened: the story was altered to make it clear Mitchell had been a 19-year-old intern when he had made up the quotes in 1967.

Ben Domenech was young when he plagiarized, but that’s not the point — and Mitchell’s youthful manipulation of the news, while interesting and disquieting, is not the main point either. The point is that Editor & Publisher is quietly manipulating its online content to protect the reputation of its editor-in-chief — and it’s happening now, not in 1967. The story does not indicate that it has been altered in any way. The alteration was done quietly . . . so that nobody would notice.

But, of course, someone did.

I think this is a huge story. Whether is becomes one is now up to Big Media.

It’s also up to you to tell Big Media about it.

UPDATE: Bob’s commenters are pointing to evidence that Mitchell’s making up quotes happened in 1969 and not 1967. So was he 21 and not 19? Will he sneak in another change?

UPDATE x2: It’s worth emphasizing that the column that was changed was originally written in 2003, not hours or days ago. I sometimes change a post shortly after it’s written, for clarity’s sake. But this was a set of changes to a years-old piece in a trade magazine, to respond to criticisms made in the last day or two — with no indication that the piece had been altered.

Allah has more, with links to some Dan Riehl finds.

The O.J. Posts — Part Seven: The Microscope Effect

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:00 am

[This is Part Seven of a series of posts on the O.J. Simpson trial. Part One is here; Part Two is here; Part Three is here; Part Four is here; Part Five is here; Part Six is here.]

I have a theory: put anything in life under an intense microscope — anything — and you can find questions. Especially if you want to find them, and you proceed off of incomplete information and jump to conclusions.

The JFK assassination is a perfect case in point. It seems clear to me, and I think to most rational people who have looked at the evidence, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. There is no tricky magic bullet theory. Conspiracy theorists who channel Jim Garrison and Oliver Stone and argue that a bullet had to defy the laws of physics — well, they just don’t know what they’re talking about.

But such a microscope has been put to the JFK case that there are a million theories floating out there. Many rely on misstatements of the evidence and misunderstandings of the basics of the case. But when there are a gazillion theories floating around, and a gazillion people talking about the case, you’re almost certain to pick up misinformation along the way. When there is a feature film devoted to twisting the available facts, it certainly doesn’t help matters.

I call it the Microscope Effect. If you put anything under a microscope, you can come out with the wildest theories.

The O.J. case, in my opinion, suffers from a huge case of the Microscope Effect. One way you can tell is that people ignore simple theories based on basic evidence in favor of huge, unwieldy conspiracies that could never be kept together in real life. Or they focus on one piece of evidence at a time without looking at the big picture.

Look at the comments over the last few days and you’ll see examples of this.

It’s the Microscope Effect. It happened with JFK and it happened with O.J.

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