"It is left, therefore, to the juries, if they think the permanent judges are under any bias whatever in any cause, to take on themselves to judge the law as well as the fact. They never exercise this power but when they suspect partiality in the judges, and by the exercise of this power they have been the firmest bulwarks of English liberty."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Letter to Abbe Arnoux, Paris, July 19, 1789
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
Jefferson was probably referring to "Jury Nullification", where the jury can nullify bad law by voting not guilty regardless of the evidence. This should happen much more often ,and would if Juries knew about it. Jury nullification is never mentioned by the presiding judge and I doubt that some even know what it is. A very good defence lawyer that I know had never heard of this.
 -- jim k, austin     
    jim, said well. Jurors under American jurisprudence have the obligation to measure fact and law and be the judicial officers in the court. This is not taught in law schools anymore and would be debunked by the black priesthood robbed gods on the bench. In common law courts, the County Sheriff sat in at the position of the current day judge, not to judge (that was left to the jurors) but, to enforce order and the rules of civil/criminal procedure.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    The power to judge was held uniquely by the sovereigns, ensuring a right to a trial judged by peers.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    This is what judges never want you to know and will usually tell you the exact opposite in the jury instructions. When I'm selected for jury duty, I print out this quote and leave copies with the stack of magazines in the jury room.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    Mike what if the jury ruled you out of your house in violation of the facts or law in the case, would you still be so happy about it. This quote is demonstrative of the reliance we must have on democracy and common sense and faith in each other in a democracy. I agree it takes faith and patience and juries and democratic majorities make mistakes. But we all know what Churchill said. As some say the Senate slows down the House so maybe the Judge is sometimes needed to slow down the Jury.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    It is your duty as a citizen to stand for justice. If you see an injustice being perpetrated by the government (the legislative, the judiciary, or the executive), as a juror you cannot ignore it. It is your role to be the last hope of justice, the last circuit breaker. Voting to steal someone's property is not justice. When Alfred the Great was asked what justice was, he answered that he knew it when he saw it. Everyone else of good character ought to as well.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    If the truth be known, our current court system is no longer based on common law, but upon statutory-commercial law. The courts operate under the admiralty/maritime jurisidiction which in truth give the final say to the judge -- he may ignore the jury's verdict and often does. But since the judge controls the proceedings including the jury selection process and instructions to the jury, he rarely has need to overturn a verdict. Lawyers are NOT permitted to inform the juries of this right -- they will be disbarred. The jury is the final check against government tyranny -- and our very freedoms are dependent upon it being properly informed. All you need is one partiot on a jury to make it so. Bring back the Common Law courts! The Consitution identifies 3 lawful jurisdictions -- common law, equity law, and military law -- each with their own due process. But when the common law jurisdiction and the equity jurisdiction were merged under FDR, criminal penalties became authorized for commercial violations which could not be the case prior to that. And since we no longer 'pay' for anything (which can only be done with real money, gold/silver) we are all using commercial paper (negotiable instruments) governed by equity/commercial/statutory law, we must abide by the rules of its use. We are the pawns in a huge Monopoly game -- and all the pieces eventually end up back in the box.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Waffler, your ignorance of the subject matter makes me smile, not necessarily at you but the ignorance of the public in general. In the first place your stated scenario couldn't happen (for more procedural reasons than I choose to go into). It could only happen in today's corrupt courts. I have given many examples on how corrupt the courts are today, and it is only getting worse. There is no rule of law. Archer, taking about Monopoly money and commercial paper, get your latest birth certificate and scan it, enlarge it, and see what is hidden in the background. I've done this now on new birth certificates from several states and every one of them say SECURITY PAPER BANK NOTE then it will give a relative situs (northeast, northwest, etc.).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
     -- warren, olathe      
    I agree with this quote also.Wouldn't it be great if things were this way?
     -- Me Again     
    I think it's odd that Jefferson would point to English Liberty 13 years after the revolution...But the quote itself is quite valid.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
     -- Mary - MI      
     -- watchman 13, USA      
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