"If a juror accepts as the law that which the judge states, then the juror has accepted
the exercise of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered
a power and right that once was the citizen's safeguard of liberty."
by:
Justice Theophilus Parsons
(1750-1813) Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Source:
2 ELLIOT’S DEBATES, 94, BANCROFT, HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION, p.267, 1788.
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Reader comments about this quote:
WOW, that the slaves understood this ! ! ! In the de jure States United, each juror is to be an independent jurist, determining fact and law.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    If a juror doesn't think a law is fair,he can vote not guilty regardless of the judges instructions.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    This quote would be very powerful and famous if it wasn't diluted by such a weak second sentence. The second sentence barely follows from the first. It's not untrue, it's just weak and distracts because it is so difficult to connect to the first. I'd recommend the editors of this website drop the second sentence.
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton California     
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    Jury nullification is what this quote is all about. The government employees try to convince jurors that their ONLY job is to judge whether the defendant is lying or not. We are mere lie detectors. The reason they make the effort to remove your ability to judge the law is so they don't have to drag out the case with a defense of the law in addition to the trial itself. They're lazy. That's all.
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton California     
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    A juror can ask questions of the Judge, he does not have to accept the Judges "absolute authority". If he feels he has not gotten the right answers you can have a hung jury. After a verdict is reached the case can be appealed based on the argument that the Judge erred in explaining the law. Government employees have no absolute authority. An administrative law judge was on CSPAN the other day discussing the number of threats they get from nuts demanding Social Security disability etcetera and threatening him and all doctors who would deny him. The problem is folk who only wish to be a law unto themselves. Finally I can agree with Jim K on this one.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    It used to be common knowledge that the jurors were to judge the law and the facts. It is the last line of defense against unconstitutional laws. It is a misnomer to think that the Supreme Court is to decide whether certain legislation is unconstitutional -- that right belongs to the citizens. Prohibition primarily was abolished because too many court cases were decided 'not guilty' because jurors would refuse to convict. Without 'mens rea' (malicious intent), no crime has been committed. In the case of accidental harm, the jury is to determine the repayment of damages. In 'victimless crimes' there is no mens rea, and therefore the jury is bound to acquit for there is no guilt. Whenever Congress or the President issues a unconstitutional dictate, it is the jury that puts them back in their place. This needs to get out to all the freedom lovers around the world and to preserve the very ancient democratic tradition of trial by jury. Yes, Waffler, trial by jury was considered essential in a democracy. Did you know that the new European Union government does not protect the right of trial by jury?!! In EU trials, the JUDGE decides guilt!!
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    @Walter Clark, thank you for pointing out the error in the quote. The first sentence of this quote is from Justice Theophilus Parsons, and the second sentence is from George Sutherland. The quote has been corrected.
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
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