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Out-Of-Control Judges … Overturning Not-Guilty Jury Verdicts?

Judge Overturns Jury's Not-Guilty Verdict

Image source: dreamspacecommunity

Judges could maintain the right simply to throw out jury verdicts they don’t like under a case currently being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case involves three men who were sentenced to 19 years in prison even though a jury had found them not-guilty of major drug charges. The judge’s action, critics say, ignores the Constitution’s protection of a trial by jury.

“Sentencing then becomes the real trial, with the judge being given carte blanche to engage as factfinder,” attorneys for the Rutherford Institute and the Cato Institute wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief for the three men. “This is constitutionally improper. Instead, the conviction must fall or stand with the jury to be ‘the lawful judgment of his peers.’”

The attorneys are appealing sentences that US District Judge Richard Roberts gave to three Washington, D.C. men in 2011. A jury found Joseph Jones, Desmond Thurston and Antwuan Bell not guilty of a variety of conspiracy charges in 2008 but did convict them of possessing small amounts of cocaine. Three years later Roberts sentenced the men as if each was guilty of conspiracy charges and in possession of 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, because he felt evidence indicated that they were guilty.

How Federal Judges Can Ignore Juries

The problem with Roberts’ ruling is that the jury found that there was insufficient evidence to prove the existence of the conspiracy. Evidence indicates – and the jury agreed — that each of the men was carrying only a few ounces of crack when arrested, Rutherford and Cato say.

The True Christian Heritage and Christian Ideals That Are Woven Into The Very Fabric Of The Constitution…

Roberts effectively tripled or quadrupled their sentences, Ohio University Law Professor Douglas Berman has argued. Berman has filed a separate brief on behalf of the three men.

A federal appeals court upheld Roberts’ ruling, prompting the attorneys to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has until July 28 to decide whether to hear the appeal. If the court doesn’t hear the appeal, the power of federal judges to throw out jury verdicts will be upheld.

More Common Than Popularly Thought

“This alarmingly common practice by unelected federal judges of considering charges that criminal defendants were not convicted of during sentencing usurps the role of the jury and violates the constitutional right of citizens to be judged by a jury of their peers,” Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead noted in a press release.

“The very idea that judges could be allowed to discard the sound decisions of the jury in favor of their own determination of the facts runs contrary to the principles embodied in the Sixth Amendment, and to the very idea of a trial by a jury of our peers,” Whitehead said.

The right to a trial by jury is guaranteed by Article III and the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Rutherford and Cato attorneys argued. They also noted that the right to jury dates back to the Magna Carta signed in England in 1215. Trial by jury is considered to be the basis of the common law used in all English-speaking countries.

“But the end result is inconsistent with the maxim that no one be imprisoned except by the lawful judgment of his peers,” the Cato and Rutherford attorneys wrote of the legal precedents.

Should judges have the ability essentially to overturn a jury verdict? Tell us what you think in the comments section below. 

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5 comments

  1. Judges do not have that position for life as many think or have been taught. The US Constitution, Article III. Section. 1:

    The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

    James Madison, Federalist 39: “According to the provisions of most of the constitutions, again, as well as according to the most respectable and received opinions on the subject, the members of the judiciary department are to retain their offices by the firm tenure of good behaviour.”

    James Wilson, Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention: “The President of the United States is impeachable at any time during his continuance in office. The tenure by which the Judges are to hold their places, is, as it unquestionably ought to be, that of good behaviour. The tenure of the ministerial offices generally will be a subject of legal regulation, conformably to the reason of the case, and the example of the State Constitutions.”

    Tucker’s Blackstone, Volume I, Chapter 1: “But here a very natural, and very material, question arises: how are these customs or maxims to be known, and by whom is their validity to be determined? The answer is, by the judges in the several courts of justice. They are the depositaries of the laws; the living oracles, who must decide in all cases of doubt, and who are bound by an oath to decide according to the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.
    Now this is a positive law, fixed and established by custom, which custom is evidenced by judicial decisions; and therefore can never be departed from by any modern judge without a breach of his oath and the law. For herein there is nothing repugnant to natural justice;…”

    The judicial branch of the federal government is not in place to “interpret” the Constitution of the United States of America, but to decide if a law, bill, treaty, case is IN PURSUANCE THEREOF – they are to make sure that they are following the US Constitution. Constitution says in Article VI “… This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    Article VI says that only the laws that are made in Pursuance thereof the US Constitution are lawful here in the USA. Anything else disguised as “law” is not legal or binding on US Citizens.

    It also says that anyone serving within the federal or state governments MUST support the US Constitution or no longer meet the qualifications of the position or office they are occupying when it says this about qualifying for office or public trust:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    ALL justices – federal and state – MUST support the US Constitution and follow it or they no longer meet the contract, bound and verified by taking the Oath of Office, and would no longer lawfully be occupying the position they are serving in.

    Thomas Jefferson: “…To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions is a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…and their power is more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruption of time and party, its members would become despots….”

    Thomas Jefferson: “The government created by this compact (the Constitution) was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party (the people of each state) has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

    James Madison: “But it is objected, that the judicial authority is to be regarded as the sole expositor of the Constitution in the last resort…”

    Alexander Hamilton: “Every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

    John Marshall: Opinion as Chief Justice in Marbury vs. Madison: “The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.”

    So many believe only those in the government decides what happens and if they – in all three branches are good or bad. But here in America, the people are supposed to decide directly and indirectly through various means – though the last few decades it has been much ignored even in the courts. Many have also forgotten that the courts were to be an independent branch enforcing the US Constitution, under no type of coercion from either the executive or the legislative branches.

    The judicial was set to be totally separate from, and not under the power of, either the executive branch or the legislative branch. They were to be an independent branch that was taxed with the duty of making sure that the other two branches, plus the states, actions were “in Pursuance thereof” the US Constitution. They were to make sure that laws did not encroach on the people’s unalienable natural rights in any way. The courts were not given the power to make the decisions of guilt or innocence – that power is left with the people.

    Many have forgotten that the courts were set up to be directly under the influence of the people, as jurors. “We the People” are directly the decision-makers of the guilt or innocence of our neighbors, and of the laws presented to us as jurors. We are also the final decision makers on if judges are using “Good Behaviour” in the courtrooms or not; not the executive or legislative branches; nor is the judicial to decide it’s guilt or innocence itself. “We the people” are the final arbitrator of the decision if the judges within OUR courtrooms are using “Good Behaviour”.

    In the courtrooms as a jury, the people are the ones who lawfully decide a case brought against a person. More importantly they are to decide if the law is a good law or not as a jury. A sanctioned doctrine of trial proceedings wherein members of a jury disregard either the evidence presented and/or the instructions of the judge in order to reach a verdict based upon their own consciences. Basically the jurors are the judges of both law and fact. Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of “Not Guilty” despite any belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged.  The jury nullifies a law that it believes is either a bad law.

    Once a jury returns with a verdict of “Not Guilty,” that verdict cannot be questioned by any court, plus the “double jeopardy” clause of the Constitution prohibits a retrial on the same charge.

    Early in US history, judges informed jurors of their nullification right. The first Chief Justice, John Jay, told jurors:
    “You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge both the facts and law.”
    And “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

    Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Paine: “I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

    John Adams: “It is not only his [the juror’s] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”

    “though in direct opposition to the direction of the court” is “We the people” deciding the court, prosecutors, lawmakers were all wrong. So why would anyone think that the final decisions over a judge using “Good Behaviour” would be left to anyone else?

    Samuel Chase: “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.”

    Patrick Henry: “Why do we love this trial by jury? Because it prevents the hand of oppression from cutting you off…This gives me comfort, that, as long as I have existence, my neighbors will protect me.”

    Fire US District Judge Richard Roberts. The US Constitution did NOT give judges the power to overturn juries.

  2. hell no!!! a trial by jury should be the end of it except in case of an undecided or hung jury. the law is written clearly.
    the only reason i believe that judges are doing this is to feather their so called nests. and for feathers in their political aspirations cap.

  3. lana l cunningham

    Orange California judge Derek Johnson
    overturned an acquittal of . A jury trialChanged verdict guilty
    added another charge
    changed the verdict & numbers order
    123
    1234
    Secretly done without jury’s knowledge
    judge would not allow to pay a private attorney
    in this case
    forced to a public defender to represent me
    DVD transcript deleted evidence
    public defender told me she is forced . To comply with the judge because in this occurred court he is above the law
    deleted . Testimony
    records f the case
    verdictsare confidential
    procedures to let the public know
    a jury trial in this court
    is a waste of time in vain

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