Patterico's Pontifications

9/2/2006

A Question for Those Who Support Perjury and Disrespecting the Rule of Law in Support of Jury Nullification

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:53 am



In our recent discussions about jury nullification, some of you were pretty cavalier about perjury, and the concept of respect for the rule of law. I explained that jurors must take an oath to apply the law as set forth in the judge’s instructions — and jurors are always asked beforehand whether they would agree to do so. That means that, unless you are blindsided by the content of the judge’s instructions, you generally can’t nullify without first perjuring yourself. (And it’s rare that jurors will be blindsided, because in any case where nullification is a possibility, there will be extensive and detailed questioning in jury selection about jurors’ disagreements with, and ability to apply, the applicable law.)

Some bloggers and commenters came up with various ways to rationalize lying to (or misleading) the court — under oath — about whether you’d apply the law.

This question is directed at those of you who supported perjury to undermine the rule of law by nullifying in a court case:

What was your position on the Clinton impeachment, and why?

Just curious.

Most Republicans supported impeachment under the theory that, under the rule of law, nobody is allowed to lie under oath — even if they feel (as Clinton and his supporters did) that the questions are inappropriate, or stem from an improper political motivation.

Does opposition to perjury and support for the rule of law depend upon whether the guy on the hotseat is a libertarian martyr, as opposed to a hated President?

P.S. My guess is that there are not a lot of people who supported both the Clinton impeachment and jury nullification. But there are probably a few of you. That’s who I want to hear from. If you are consistent on this issue — and I’m guessing plenty of you are — I can’t stop you from boasting about it at length in the comments. But you’re not really the people I want to hear from.

P.P.S. A lot of people are trying to leap ahead to see where I’m going with this. Humor me and don’t pretend you already know my point. Just answer the questions: if you would lie to get onto a jury to nullify, where did you stand on the impeachment — and why?

P.P.P.S. Nobody is stepping up to the plate. You people are pathetic. I mean that in the nicest possible way.

66 Responses to “A Question for Those Who Support Perjury and Disrespecting the Rule of Law in Support of Jury Nullification”

  1. Comparing a defensive reaction by a juror, resisting judicial overreach, is not the same thing as former President Clinton lying to cheat a woman out of a just result in a civil case.

    RJN (e12f22)

  2. So whether you can justify lying under oath depends on whether you’re lying for a good cause or not?

    Patterico (91fd36)

  3. Someone who believes that:

    1) Lying about your belief in jury nullification (a priviledge hailed by many of the founding fathers) in order to serve on a jury and – if necessary – base your verdict on the unjust law rather than the facts of the case.

    2) Lying under oath about *insert fact here* during a trial.

    Are the same thing, might think there is some kind of consistency issue here. I do not see how someone could believe they are the same however.

    It’s like conflating self-defense (a right) with covering up a crime scene to make it look like it was self-defense.

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  4. Clinton was a participant – defendant – in a civil action. A juror taking an oath is being asked to read the judges mind as to what his instructions will be, and to conspire with the judge in reducing a jury’s independence.

    The judge and the prospective juror conspire to acknowledge that it is O.K. for a judge to manipulate a jurors mind.

    RJN (e12f22)

  5. If I had a blog I’d ask this question there, but since I don’t, here it is:

    What causes some people to believe that the Rule of Law is somehow more important than actual human justice/rights? I can understand thinking that a strong legal foundation, which is followed consistently, is necessary for a cohesive civilized society, but didn’t Kurt Godel prove that no system of logic covers every situation? Why would someone knowingly genuflect to the altar of Law when there is an injustice being perpetuated by that Law?

    Remember, just following orders is no excuse.

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  6. Apples and oranges. Impeachment is a political act. How would it have played in a court? Clinton was disbarred by Arkansas and The Supreme Court. All nine justices boycotted his SOTU address.

    Roy Lofquist (e404b9)

  7. “What causes some people to believe that the Rule of Law is somehow more important than actual human justice/rights?”

    Who argued that? The only arguments I have seen is that the former is the best means we have of assuring the latter. The rule of law is like democracy, which is the worst system of governance, except for all the others. Anarchy born of individuals who cannot understand their own inherent fallibility is the very antithesis of human justice/rights. That is why rule of law exists.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  8. People aren’t really understanding the question.

    Did all of you support impeachment? If so, why?

    Patterico (91fd36)

  9. Isn’t Patterico confusing the Impeachment in the House with the Trial in the Senate?

    The Impeachment question was in large measure about which crimes (and yes, I mean crimes) are of the type for which the constitution allows impeachment. For example, is lying under oath a serious enough crime, according to the constitution? This is a question which has nothing to do with jury nullification, and in fact there was no jury in the House.

    After the House decided on impeachment, there was then a trial in the Senate. The jurors were asked to decide if Clinton was guilty of the crimes he was accused of: perjury and obstruction of justice. My guess is that there were numerous senators who knew perfectly well that Clinton was guilty, but voted to acquit — either because they disagreed with the Impeachment decision of the House on constitutional grounds, or because they liked Clinton. This was jury nullification, it seems to me.

    LTEC (d17b04)

  10. I’m not confusing anything with anything. I’m asking a question, which nobody has answered yet.

    It’s bolded in the post.

    Patterico (91fd36)

  11. I’ll answer your question in the hope that you’ll answer some of ours.

    “What was your position on the Clinton impeachment, and why?”

    I personally felt it was a waste of time, a blatant partisan move. Considering that the Constitution is violated by almost every law put forth by the legislature and signed by the President, lying about a BJ didn’t really make my list of Top 100 things wrong with our current federal system. And of course once you start trying to impeach (nuclear option) over something so small, you open the door for the pitbulls on the other side of the fence to do it to your guy when your team is in charge. Well, at least Feingold tried.

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  12. Okay, I’m one of those rare few who supported the impeachment and supportjury nullification.

    Clinton obviously (to me) committed perjury and the only court with standing was the House of Representatives. Clinton’s lawyer had the right to object to particular questions, and if overruled, there’s alway’s the fifth asmendment. I agree with the impeachment, but I also agree with the acquittal by the Senate, even though the decision looked more politically based than on the legal particulars.

    I agree with jury nullification in concept, but concede it should be extremely rare, far rarer than a case being vacated or retried due to a judge’s improper instructions.

    I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I have enough grounding in English history to know that the establishment of a jury of one’s peers was not just to decide innocence or guilt, but to serve as a check on judges and prosecutors. After over two centuries of litigation, there are numerous cases of judges and prosecutors showing their bias.

    Yes there are other remedies, but they’re after the fact, and the accused can be and are harmed, and no redress makes an accuse fully whole. A jury shares the responsibility of keeping the system honest with the judge, prosecutors and defenders. Nullification is a nuclear option, but a jury must have it or it’s powerless.

    As for the oath to follow the judge’s instructions under threat of perjury, I agree it’s necessary to weed out emotion and sympathy, but the conduct of the judge and prosecutor are part of the trial proceedings and have an effect on the jury’s reasonable doubt that the case has been proven. The jury has to make a judgement on the testimony of witnesses (two or more witnesses giving contradictory accounts is not unknown), why should the work of judges and prosecutors be assumed flawless?

    My bottom line is that jury nullification should be extremely rare, that’s why I call it a nuclear option, but it’s part of the jury’s responsibility to see that the process is fair and aboveboard.

    Larry Faria (9ffcc4)

  13. The former former President and the current junior Senator from New York and thier White House staff (composed of the highest caliber legal talent) have done more to further disrespect for the law than I can articulate.Thereby fostering a cavalier attitude by the public regarding oaths. I supported the impeachment proceedings on the perjury charge, but I was very disappointed the more serious crimes were not charged.
    Would I commit perjury to nullify, no. Would I vote not guilty after hearing the evidence – maybe (NY Province v. ZENGER 1735).

    PS- I am glad we did not have to say Nazi. 😉

    Gbear (c22f1c)

  14. “Considering that the Constitution is violated by almost every law put forth by the legislature and signed by the President,”

    What the hell?!

    How??

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  15. Federal Dog,

    I’m referring of course to the 10th amendment. As it was intended by the founding fathers. As opposed to the interstate commerce clause becoming the excuse to regulate everything under the Sun.

    A “living, breathing” Constitution is another reason to maintain jury nullification.

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  16. I think the sense of the House was that it had to impeach; Clinton had earned it. I agree so far. The Senate could not convict, of course, and I even agree with that. Process was served.

    Process is tainted when a prospective juror becomes a representative of the judge.

    RJN (e12f22)

  17. The Tenth Amendment does not mean that almost every law enacted at the federal level violates the Constitution. It clarifies that all powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution or prohibited to the states under the Constitution are reserved to the states or people.

    Your complete lack of understanding of the law is why I have no faith in so-called jury nullification. Next, you’ll be demanding vacation money from the feds so you can go on a trip, pursuant to the Travel Clause. And you won’t be the first to make that demand.

    Sigh.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  18. Federal Dog,

    If your name is accurate, I can understand your reluctance to bite the hand that feeds you, but you are suffering from horrible myopia if you confuse “US” and “Federal Government” – two different entities for sure. Which makes your understanding of the 10th amendment completely irrelevant. It places an explicit limit on what the *federal government* may do. Which is why the federal government couldn’t interfere with a guy growing wheat in his backyard, until the fools in black robes pretended that interstate commerce gave Congress that ability.
    And so we have the situation today, where many things the federal government involves itself with (and hires many people to oversee), are not listed in the Constitution (as the founders intended), and so violate the 10th amendment. But it would be naive to expect SCOTUS, appointed by the politicians, to bite the hand that feeds them.

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  19. Larry and RJN agree with the impeachment by the House and the acquittal by the Senate. That’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms. Why did you agree with the impeachment, guys? And why did you agree with the acquittal? If you could have voted on each, you would have voted to impeach, and then acquit?

    Can you explain that to me?

    Meanwhile GBear expresses agreement with impeachment but says she wouldn’t lie to get on a jury.

    What I’m looking for is someone who fully supported the impeachment, and would have voted to convict — but who would lie to get on a jury to nullify.

    Maybe there aren’t any of you out there.

    Patterico (91fd36)

  20. “but you are suffering from horrible myopia if you confuse “US” and “Federal Government” – two different entities for sure.”

    Like I said, you show no understanding whatsoever of the Constitution. Don’t hold your breath on that vacation money either.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  21. Federal Dog,

    If your name is accurate…

    I’m pretty sure he isn’t really a dog.

    Xrlq (1fd2ef)

  22. Off-topic, but since this is the “dog trainer” site, here is what inspired my name (see link below).

    http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012675.php

    I’m still laughing at the governor’s “decree.” For the record, yes: I am, arguably, unworthy of protection.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  23. Yeah, that was a good one. I had something on that myself.

    So are you a “Wolf,” then?

    Patterico (91fd36)

  24. More of a wild Massachusetts loup-garou. I used to post under the name Fenris (a wolf in old Norse eddas), but someone else uses the name Fenrisulven, so I wanted to avoid confusion.

    The “press release” cited in your December post, I believe, brings us full circle back to Frank Stein’s Tenth Amendment issue: Perhaps that’s Frank’s point?

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  25. Patterico: “If you could have voted on each, you would have voted to impeach, and then acquit?”

    The impeachment was good. I would have so voted. I was ambivalent about the Senate’s subsequent jury nullification and am not sure how I would have voted. Basically, a Senator could say, “I will nullify because Clinton was caught up in an outrageous system, whereby he was basically forced to testify about his irrelevant sex life because of a suit about some other act of sexual harassment” and I would have definitely agreed with him and supported the Senate’s nullification, but for the fact that Clinton himself signed the law that required such testimony of sex-harassment defendants.”

    DWPittelli (a38ee9)

  26. Anyway Patterico,

    Even you support nullification in a sufficiently outrageous case, albeit not any case that’s currently being tried in the US.

    DWPittelli (a38ee9)

  27. My position on the Clinton Impeachment?

    1) He was guilty as a cat in a goldfish bowl.

    nevertheless

    2) Impeaching him in a fit of pique over boinking the help because as a sitting President with the Press on his side he could stonewall the investigation into anything more serious was a tactical error.

    Still, that should kill the old NOW position of “Any sexual relationship between an older man in a position of authority and a younger woman of lesser rank is necessarily sexual harassment.’ dead as a doornail.

    C. S. P. Schofield (c1cf21)

  28. Nobody who reads this blog would have convicted Clinton, but also would lie to get onto a jury to nullify?

    Not one person?

    Nobody?

    Patterico (91fd36)

  29. Patterico,

    Any type of criminal can recognize that what he is guilty of may be unacceptable to the criminal justice system, and that if caught, he will be punished. And so, if the President is caught, he should be punished, rather than given a special break because he is President.

    For example, if the President has marijuana parties, we can’t expect all the pot-smokers to oppose impeachment for that reason. Indeed, if said President’s administration is vigorously prosecuting the marijuana laws, and has just launched a crackdown on marijuana possession, then the pot-smokers especially might oppose giving the President a break. As it happens, Janet Reno had, just a few months before Clinton’s perjuries, announced a federal crackdown on perjury, which included a two-year recommended sentence for perjury in a civil case.

    And as I just explained, while I oppose the asking of questions about a civil sex harassment defendant’s sex life, Bill Clinton could hardly ask for slack on such a matter. If the law on such questions had passed over his objection, then Senate nullification would have been a gimme.

    Similarly, if you believe that jury nullification is a proper and necessary part of the jury system, questions designed to eliminate it are not acceptable, and you would also acquit a juror if he were prosecuted for such a perjury.

    Of course, none of us really knows that he would lie to get on a jury unless he has already done so. I support nullification in any case where punishment is significant despite the complete lack of a victim, but I don’t know if I would have lied to get on a jury in such a case. I do know that I would not do so now, since I am not exactly anonymous here, and as a family man I am not so willing to openly “stick it to the man” in the face of a potential felony charge.

    DWPittelli (a38ee9)

  30. Gee, Pat, you’re asking for an open avowal of hypocrisy and are surprised when there are no takers? :)

    Anwyn (d24425)

  31. I don’t really want to debate until someone steps forward and answers the questions. Otherwise you’re debating what you’re guessing my argument is.

    Patterico (91fd36)

  32. Well, I’m not guessing, I just thought “Not one person?” was a taunt and that nobody stepping up was what you expected.

    Anwyn (d24425)

  33. What I’m getting is people trying to explain why it’s not hypocritical without answering my questions.

    And my last comment was not a response to Anwyn, but to DWPittelli.

    It was a taunt.

    Patterico (91fd36)

  34. I didn’t say I would lie to get on a jury with the intention to nullify, but I did say that under unusually smelly circumstances I would nullify although it would make me an oathbreaker.

    I say above that impeaching Clinton was a tactical error. I didn’t say I wouldn’t vote to convict him; he was guilty of the felony with which he was charged AND I don’t like the guy. Slam dunk.

    So where does that leave me with you? I’m not sure.

    C. S. P. Schofield (c1cf21)

  35. I believed that Clinton should have been impeached. I was not surprized that he was found not guilty, although I think I might have voted to find him guilty.

    I am in favor of jury nullification (at least that kind that lets a jury acquit even if the evidence is sufficent to convict.)

    I think the question about perjury and the oath is just sloppy thinking (and a lot of talk about oaths is very sloppy.) Oaths must be freely given, because oath breaking is one of the most serious crimes a soul can commit. Oaths extracted under threat — any threat — are not oaths, however. They may look like oaths, but they have only the color of oaths, not the content.

    The oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” … when the judge tells me to stop testifying, and I stop, not having so testified, which of us has broken my oath?

    Are you going to maintain that my oath is unbroken?

    My understanding (at the moment) is that the judge in a jury trial will instruct me as to what the laws covering the defendant’s actions and situations are. He (she) will completely and correctly explain all of the lawful defenses (are these called affimative defenses?) that could apply (even if the defense does not raise them) and all of the verdicts that the we might return (even if the prosecution has not asked for them as explicitly included lesser charges.)

    Swearing — to me — to attempt to understand and evaluate such instruction, as well as to understand and evaluate the testimony as to the defendant’s acts, seem to me to include the (very remote) possibility that we would hang, being unable to come to a common verdict, and as well, the (even more remote) possibility that we would nullify.

    To expect that the given oath would mean that I could not nullify makes no sense, as I have seen neither the evidence nor the instruction. You could demand that I swear to come to a verdict, too, but my expectation is that if you don’t want hung juries you will get more nullification.

    htom (412a17)

  36. Let me elaborate: if I was asked “Will you vote to nullify?” (can such a question even be asked?) I would reply “I don’t know; I haven’t seen the evidence or the instructions.” I don’t consider that to be a violation of “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” If you want to consider it a lie, /shrug/ that’s your consideration.

    If I was asked “Would you ever nullify?” I would say “Depending on the circumstances, yes.”

    I suspect that either answer would get me bounced from the jury. A judge who claimed either answer was contemptable would find me replying with the words of the oath to tell the truth, and then an invitation to demonstrate that the court was worthy of contempt for not allowing truthful answers.

    htom (412a17)

  37. Why did you support impeachment, htom?

    Patterico (91fd36)

  38. You’ve set up a false question on jury nullification; those that I know who support it do support the law — but reject the notion that what is codified is absolute. In other words, if a law (or a judges instruction) amounts to a fundamental betrayal of the rights of man, then said law is a perversion. Nullification was favored by many founding fathers to act as a kind of final check on encroachments against individual rights. So one could quite easily swear an oath to uphold the law in its original/natural conception — as opposed to defining it as what a legislature or court says it is.

    As for Clinton, come on. Clinton lied about a material fact, intending to deny Paula Jones redess for his crimes against her.

    So one can easily reconcile the belief in a citizen’s right to defend liberty (via nullification) and impeaching Clinton for deciding he has a right to his own facts.

    Leopold Stotch (e773d6)

  39. It appeared to me that Mr. Clinton, in violation of his oath to the court, his oath as a member of the bar, and his oath as President, intentionally testified falsely in the Paula Jones case. I was astonished that his lawyers were unable to postpone his testimony until after he’d left office and have concluded that they thought he would testify truefully then, and that the court would proceed after Mr. Clinton had left office.

    It seems obvious to me that oath-breakers should not be Presidents. Maybe if they had done so twenty or fifty years before, people can change … but for the highest law enforcement official in the land to knowingly falsely testify WHILE HE WAS IN THAT OFFICE FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL GAIN … where could you find tar willing to dirty itself by association with him?

    htom (412a17)

  40. To be more succinct in my point: jury nullification is citizens’ participation in the law, whereas what Clinton did was to try to prevent another’s fair access to it.

    Leopold Stotch (e773d6)

  41. Stotch:

    Clinton lied about a material fact, intending to deny Paula Jones red[r]ess for his crimes against her.

    So, Stotch: lying under oath is not OK if it’s about a material fact, but is OK if it’s about whether one intends to apply the law?

    Can you explain the difference to me?

    htom:

    It appeared to me that Mr. Clinton, in violation of his oath to the court, his oath as a member of the bar, and his oath as President, intentionally testified falsely in the Paula Jones case

    Well, let’s put aside his oath as a member of the bar, and his oath as President. Would you support impeachment if all Clinton had done was violate his oath to the court?

    Patterico (91fd36)

  42. Well, he wouldn’t be President without the oath, so it’s beyond very hard to set it aside.

    I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. (So help me God.)

    I suppose one could argue that truthful testimony was beyond his ability (stop laughing!) and that this is a way for him out of the perjury accusation.

    Let’s say he wasn’t President at all, but was being impeached in some other position, perhaps as a Cabinet Member (can Ambassadors be impeached?) for the same behaviors and knowingly false testimony. I fear that I’d still vote to impeach, and still probably vote to convict. I confess that I find his behavior in regards to the draft to be dishonorable, but all of us then made hard choices then and some wish they’d chosen differently. I would try hard to separate those feelings from the perjury case, although I’m not sure I’d succeed.

    I think that there’s a line, fuzzy as it may sometimes be, and his testimony in this case was over it. To me, it was not about the sex, but about the lying about the sex. To a certain extent, he may be a victim of American culture. I think that the proper public response would have been “that’s none of your business”, but the press would have hung him out to dry here. In most of the rest of the world, it would have been a thirty minute snicker and be forgotten.

    htom (412a17)

  43. In your view, was the main ground for impeachment lying under oath, or violating the presidential oath?

    I confess I never heard that second one until now.

    Patterico (91fd36)

  44. I think it was all politics. Neither the sex nor the perjury had anything to do with it other than being the available hooks to hang politics on.

    The thing about the Presidential Oath is my own. I’ve never heard it raised anywhere else. How can we have a chief law enforcement officer who’s an admitted perjurer? I’m of the old school that thinks that the standards are and should be higher the higher you go, not lower.

    htom (412a17)

  45. I think it was all politics. Neither the sex nor the perjury had anything to do with it other than being the available hooks to hang politics on.

    So you supported a purely political impeachment for reasons unrelated to perjury?

    Wow. You’ve really lost me there.

    Anyone else?

    The crickets are really loud on this thread.

    Patterico (91fd36)

  46. I wasn’t there, remember. There may have been members who thought as I did, but it looked to me that such thoughts were pretty much ignored in the political circus. (It seems to me that even half-serious thought about almost anything is rapidly trampled into dust in the political circus in Washington. :( )

    I think that there was a legitimate legal case to be brought against Mr. Clinton; I also think that that legal case was pretty much both ignored and irrelevant to the political case that transpired. (I think that the legal advocates on both sides tried to make it otherwise, but were also mostly ignored.)

    htom (412a17)

  47. 1. Did Clinton have a duty to tell the truth because of his oath? Yes. Therefore, he violated it in an exceedingly prolific way in order to avoid punishment. Just as I would spank my kids for lying, I would impeach the president for the same act.

    2. Would I lie to get on a jury. No. Will I execute justice while serving on a jury? Yes. Even if that means ignoring the judges instructions or the “law”? Yes. The Judge is a player who is supposed to keep the trial fair by properly interpretting the law. He is supposed to be the resident expert on the law. However, I am “the people” and in a government of, by, and for the people, I must act with full faith for the people. Judges, legislators, and executives are functionaries for the people, but in thier roles, they are not the people. In a nation such as ours, the people must be king not subjects. I am obligated to act with integrity that may be above the instructions that a judge may give, or even over a law that is wrong because that is my obligation as a citizen in this country.

    Now that the philosophical argument is out there, do I view myself as some rebel out to wreck the system? No, because I believe that 99.99% of our laws are just. Therefore, 99.99% of the laws may be applied without equivocation. But if I encounter one of the .01% that are unjust, then I will consider it my duty to deliver a just verdict.

    This is not jury nullification. This is law nullification in the most basic sense as required by a citizenry committed to freedom.

    Jim M. (6f2a8f)

  48. Nobody who reads this blog would have convicted Clinton, but also would lie to get onto a jury to nullify.

    I think you’ll find very few people who would lie to get on a jury. You’re talking about a “Runaway Jury” level of deceit that would be extremely uncommon.

    I think most of those who would consider nullification would do so at the point that there’s a different question in front of them. Like marriage vows, you mean it with all your heart when you say “for better or worse”. But then there are circumstances that warrant breaking that vow, and they mostly involve a breach of trust.

    Any juror who is reasonably considering nullification is probably looking at a similar conundrum.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  49. Mr. Patterico, I wouldn’t have bothered to comment if you had written at the beginning what you wrote in comment #19, to wit:

    “What I’m looking for is someone who fully supported the impeachment, and would have voted to convict — but who would lie to get on a jury to nullify.”

    If there’s anyone out there who fits the bill, he/she would know better than admit it. Just because people can be biased or even crazy doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

    I think connecting the impeachment issue to nullification was a mistake, especially the conduct of the Senate, where political and constitutional separation of powers issues make the proceedings unlike any criminal court.

    I’m also sure you can come up with a question to delve into the nullification issue without asking your readers to admit they’d lie to get on a jury. As you can see, you’re getting no takers.

    Larry Faria (7828c5)

  50. i support jury nullification, and i support the senate’s nullification in the impeachment trial. senators are not “jurors”, one senator (it slips my mind which one) objected to the house managers’ use of that term during the trial, and the chief justice upheld him(her?).
    clinton was a likeable man with some flawed policies who happened to be a sex fiend. i’m not convinced that he committed any crime, even lying under oath. as i recall, “sex” was defined in the critical question, and the definition didn’t include blow jobs or cigars. he did, of course, lie to the american people, but that wasn’t under oath.
    the u.s. supreme court made a horrible error when it permitted civil litigation to proceed against a sitting president. for the four years of his term, he’s working on our nickel and we’re entitled to his undivided attention.

    assistant devil's advocate (48228c)

  51. I think the question is less one of if what Clinton did was all right, but if the punishment (impeachment) was proportional to the offense. Being that his actions caused no real harm, and his leadership of the country was fine, I find it a stretch to consider impeachment appropriate.

    A question for you: If you supported Clinton’s impeachment, do you also support the impeachment of President Bush – as it seems clear now that he at least encouraged lying about Saddam’s WMDs in the leadup to Iraq.

    jvarisco (b8e720)

  52. Now witnesses lying under oath is fine as well? How is it that people expect courts to work when witnesses and jurors are allowed to lie at will?

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  53. I think the question is less one of if what Clinton did was all right, but if the punishment (impeachment) was proportional to the offense. Being that his actions caused no real harm, and his leadership of the country was fine, I find it a stretch to consider impeachment appropriate.

    In that case, you should be arguing that both the House and the Senate got it wrong, i.e., the House was wrong to find his offenses impeachable, but the Senate was also wrong to acquit him for someonething he obviously did do.

    A question for you: If you supported Clinton’s impeachment, do you also support the impeachment of President Bush – as it seems clear now that he at least encouraged lying about Saddam’s WMDs in the leadup to Iraq.

    Nice try. There is no evidence President Bush either lied or encouraged lying about Saddam’s WMD. If he had, it would be tough to argue against impeachment, just as soon as someone explained why lying about a war constitutes a crime, let alone a high crime or misdemeanor.

    Xrlq (1fd2ef)

  54. I have to backtrack a bit: I hadn’t read the original post where you cite the California oath, which declares the omniscience of judges. I think that clause may be somewhat unique to your state, and I’m sure Alexander Hamilton is spinning in his grave.

    In states where there is no such clause in the juror’s oath one can support nullification without risk of perjury, and your comparison with Clinton’s perjury is a false one.

    Leopold Stotch (56f233)

  55. “for the four years of his term, he’s working on our nickel and we’re entitled to his undivided attention.”

    I certainly agree, but Clinton did anything but give the American people his undivided attention. That narcissistic baby boomer was far more interested in satisfying his id on so many levels that the American people were far, far down on the list of his priorities.

    “A question for you: If you supported Clinton’s impeachment, do you also support the impeachment of President Bush – as it seems clear now that he at least encouraged lying about Saddam’s WMDs in the leadup to Iraq.”

    First of all, Clinton lied under oath, not just his oath of office but under oath in a civil proceeding. He lost his bar card because he did so. There’s no evidence that George Bush lied about anything before the war in Iraq. None. And he certainly didn’t lie under oath.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  56. So, Pattarico –

    Assume an extreme situation, like sending someone to slavery. Assume council as capable as you are, and that you’ll be bent over the purjury bench if you act your will. What now?

    Many of us feel that the drug was is nearly as bad. What are we to do when confronted with DAs and judges that want to use a procedural trick to deprive us of the right that has been a staple of our legal system since we started it?

    I’m not saying I’d lie. In fact, I’ve been berated by a judge here in one case for failing to say the right things (here == NYC). You do seem to want to define away something that was normal via a procedural gimmick.

    [You think the drug war is nearly as bad as slavery? Honestly? Why don’t you think about that for a while, maybe research the history of slavery, and see if you still think it’s true — and then (since I know you won’t change your mind a bit), write me a 100-word essay on why you think that. Because, honestly . . . that is just about impossible for me to fathom. Please tell me you’re using extreme, extreme hyperbole. — P]

    fishbane (3389fc)

  57. Sorry, I failed to answer the question. I was a bit out of the loop, politically. Sure, I was fine with it, because it was legal process.

    Much as I’d support impeachment against the current monkey, who has danced much beyond the blowjob boundry, or outsmarting attorneys re: same.

    (Make no mistake: I’m not defending the latter, but how he did so was pretty smart. The sex issue was all about Repbublican smear. Ew.)

    fishbane (3389fc)

  58. I’ll get back to you about the drug war bit; you have made me think about the scale in comparison. I’ll have to do some research.

    You don’t seem to want to talk about the procedural gimmick (“I won’t let you on the jury unless you certify to me that you won’t use this particular right”). Why is that?

    fishbane (3389fc)

  59. The problem with the task is that Clinton’s impeachment wasn’t a case of jury nullification.

    WJC was spared conviction due to prosecutorial nullification – a far more disturbing practice.

    The presentation was intentionally muted and the “jury” (Senate) never heard the evidence.

    Ed (2b0094)

  60. Sigh.

    Someone else who “knows” my argument.

    Nobody wants to just answer the questions and have the debate. Everybody has to try to think one step ahead.

    fishbane says: “Sure, I was fine with it, because it was legal process.” ??

    So are trials. That just makes no sense.

    OK, I’ll have to put more work into this. I’ll go find all the comments where people gleefully supported perjury, and call those people out by name, asking them if they were for impeachment.

    Patterico (de0616)

  61. For example, mitch said: “Screw the oath.”

    How does mitch feel about the Clinton impeachment?

    Patterico (de0616)

  62. Pablo said:

    So, that said, if the jury sees that the prosecution/cops/Court are or have been obviously violating their oaths, I don’t have too much trouble with the jury acting likewise. If those we pay to uphold and dispense the law don’t repect the process, I can’t fault jurors for it.

    Where did Pablo stand on Clinton’s impeachment?

    Patterico (de0616)

  63. I thought the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton was reasonable, and the result – that he retained his office but was censured – was also reasonable. I think the political system worked. Legally – I’m not even sure that what happened should be seen primarily as a legal rather than a political process.

    It’s a toughie. All my friends seemed to think it was an easy call, one way or another.

    On nullification – yes I would; but first I would have to be convinced that something shocking was going on, for example that the true aim of the trial was not what we were being told, and that what was being held back was vital, to the point where I was in real doubt as to whether I would be contributing to a fair result by honestly announced rules or a perversion of justice if I voted to convict.

    I would not be easy to convince of that. I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. But such things do happen.

    And I don’t think the jury’s oath makes you a loaded gun for crooked cops and a biased court to shoot at a defendant.

    I’ve read a fair bit over the years on the history of juries. A jury is a very political thing. Courts have tried to make juries totally pliable tools. It’s amazing what people have done to juries to make them submit. Juries have served justice and sustained the credibility of the legal system because they have insisted on a degree of independence with which to uphold a common-sense understanding of justice.

    I think if you take an oath to be a juror, you should be a proper one, in line with the tradition that makes the jury system worth having in the first place. If you don’t want to participate in that grand tradition, and give the defendant the benefit of the same kind of down-to-earth justice his grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather could have had, then I think your culture is wrong. If you have some other purpose in mind, to which you think being a good juror in a historically reasonable sense should be subordinated, I … disagree.

    I don’t think a similar line of historical thinking would have led William Jefferson Clinton reasonably to believe that lying under oath was upholding his office the best way he could, according to those traditions that have ennobled the office.

    I can see how he might think: “This is normal. Lots of presidents have done stuff like this.”

    But I don’t see how he could reasonably think: “People rightly respect this office, this role, and the oath I took, because of generations of people before me acting the way I’m acting now.”

    So I would resist comparison between what William Jefferson Clinton did to get impeached and any kind of jury nullification I would be willing to consider.

    By the way, according to what friends who have served on biggish cases have told me, the real problem wasn’t defendants being railroaded – though I say again, that can happen. In every case, the defendants were obviously, infuriatingly guilty. They were so guilty, and in such stereotyped ways, with so little mystery or suspense about anything, that they could never have been on television. (“What a nasty man! Does he really think he can scare us into acquitting him with those expressions? Hey, they all look Lebanese – I bet it’s a stabbing!” It was all exactly the way it looked.)

    The real problem was with prosecutors who screwed up horribly. If too much of you’ve seen and heard has been successfully challenged for one technical reason or another, and the defendant is not just guilty as sin but a vengeful savage who has an obsession with knives and a strong, obvious, sexual desire to go after the same poor woman who wants nothing to do with him – again! – watcha gonna do?

    Answer: convict. On everything, not just the Mickey Mouse lesser charges. Not by a set of rules, except tenuously. By a total unwillingness to let that would-be killer chase that victim again (in public!) if it could be prevented. And it could.

    I hope you always have a good day at the office, Patterico, so you never put a jury in that position. I’m not saying that to be sarcastic or to take a shot. I’m saying it because I respect the great importance of what you and men like you do. Thanks, good luck to you, and good hunting, every day.

    David Blue (e6e827)

  64. I thought Clinton should have been tarred and feathered. As has been stated, you are unable to differentiate access to justice from mind-reading the judge’s instructions. If Karnack was a member of the jury, he could take the oath. Mere mortals can’t with certitude. As I’ve stated elsewhere, the game is rigged by the State, and judges and prosecutors are complicit.

    mitch (55069c)

  65. mitch,

    See if you can be one of the few people on this thread to actually answer my questions without jumping ahead to refuting what you *think* my argument is going to be. I know it’s hard to do that, but humor me.

    The question from the post was; *why* did you think Clinton should have been impeached? I gather from your answer that you also think the Senate should have convicted.

    Why?

    What about Clinton’s actions causes you to feel this way?

    Patterico (de0616)

  66. […] him. Patrick Frey, the site owner and primary writer on Patterico’s Pontifications, had a series of articles in which he clearly did not support jury nullification. But one of the articles […]

    A serious governmental over-reach « Common Sense Political Thought (73d96f)


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