I serve as the Illinois State Contact for the Fully Informed Jury Association. My goal is to spread the idea that people serving as jurors have a right to question the validity, application, and justness of the law being used to prosecute an accused individual for a crime. There is no law which punishes or otherwise makes a crime of jury nullification. Jurors cannot be questioned about the reasoning behind their voting not guilty. If an individual is being prosecuted for a non-violent offense or for a law that is unjust, a juror has a right to vote not guilty even though the evidence of the individual having actually committed the crime is conclusive. If a juror were to find a law oppressive or unjust they could choose to spare the accused from unjust punishment by voting not guilty without any fear of retaliation or punishment.
However, most judges, when instructing jurors, will say the jurors must accept the law as handed down by the judge, and if the State proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt, they have no choice but to vote guilty. That is a bald-faced lie. Judges have no authority to compel jurors to vote in such a way. However, there is no law against judges lying to jurors, which they do all the time. If a law is oppressive and an individual tried for violating that law, and the judge instructs jurors that the only option is to vote guilty if the facts support the charge, then of what use is a jury? If it is a simple equation of do facts = charge and law = what judge says then jurors are unnecessary. If the judge dictates to the jury then he determines the guilt.
If a jury witnesses a trial where they believe the law is unjust, the facts tenuous, and the treatment of the accused harsh or abusive; yet the presentation by the prosecution to be conclusive and in accordance with the judges instruction, then they are left helpless to save the accused from punishment. They must suppress what their common sense and conscience tell them is right in order to follow the orders of a judge and place a man they believe has been treated unfairly behind bars. The jurors are nothing but puppets.
I urge any of you who are called to act as jurors to take that role with passion and begin to strike down unjust laws by voting not guilty regardless of whether the facts support the charge and regardless of the judges instructions. I also urge any of you charged with a crime to demand a trial by jury. When you agree to a bench trial you agree to let a judge arbitrarily determine, not your innocence or guilt, but how you will atone to the State for your transgression. You are not presumed innocent with a judge. You are presumed guilty. A presumption of innocence is an instruction handed down to jurors, but ignored by judges.
Remember, you have NO duty to obey the orders of a judge. You are free to vote your conscience. You have no obligation to disclose the reason for your vote and cannot be made to explain.
You must ask yourself, do I have a right to take the freedom of another human being for doing something that the State objects to, but to which no other individual was harmed? Is disobedience a crime, especially when the law disobeyed is invasive, oppressive, and unjust?