"I know, may it please your honour, the jury may do so; but I do likewise know they may do otherwise. I know they have the right, beyond all dispute, to determine both the law and the fact; and where they do not doubt the law, they ought to do so. This of leaving it to the judgment of the Court whether the words are libelous or not in effect renders juries useless (to say no worse) in many cases."
Andrew Hamilton
(c.1676-1741) Scottish lawyer in colonial America
August 4, 1735, made to the jury as defense counsel at the seditious libel trial of John Peter Zenger; Rex. V. Zenger, How. St. Tr. 17:675 (1735); quoted in Stanley N. Katz, Introduction to James Alexander, A Brief Narrative Of The Case And Trial Of John Peter Zenger, 3-5 (Stanley N. Katz ed. 1963).
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Reader comments about this quote:
YES, I like it a lot.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 3
    While the quote itself is great, it is attributed to the wrong Hamilton; Andrew Hamilton said it two decades before Alexander Hamilton was born.
     -- Jack Priller, Hobbs, NM     
  • 2
    Alexander or Andrew Hamilton?
     -- Tom, Stamford     
  • 1
    It's known as Jury Nullification and most lawyers have never heard of it and no judge is going to mention it. If it's a bad law, the Jury can return a verdict of not guilty regardless of the evidence.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 4
    Look above at the dates. The source was 1735. Hamilton was not born until 1757.
     -- Cal, lewisville, tx     
  • 1
    Sorry, guys, the quote is from Andrew Hamilton, not Alexander Hamilton. The correction has been made.
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
  • 2
     -- Ronw13, OR      
    This knowledge was common enough among juries during Prohibition trials that many defendants were acquitted by juries despite breaking the law. Juries are the final veto of bad laws, if they choose to exercise their right to do so.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 1
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