I am concerned that juries, if told that they do not have to follow the law, might actually convict an innocent person by convicting them of something not against the law, by giving a defendant a stiffer penalty than the law allows, or not following the rules of the court in determining guilt or innocence. Essentially, I am worried that juries not following the law will result in the injustice of innocent people being convicted.
You share the same concern for civil liberties that advocates of jury power do. We work to educate jurors of their power to vote their consciences to prevent innocent citizens from being punished. If you care about civil liberties, then you should join us in working for fully informed juries because they will decrease convictions of the innocent, not increase them. Why?
Jury power only works in the direction of mercy. Any sentence given by a jury to a convict cannot be greater than that allowed by law. Such an act would violate the prohibition of ex post facto (after the fact) laws in Article I, Section 9 of the U. S. Constitution and Article I, Section 16 of the Texas Constitution.
Juries can only rule on a case put before them. Before a jury hears a case, a law has to be on the books, a law enforcement officer has to make an arrest, a prosecutor has to decide to bring charges, and a grand jury has to rule that sufficient evidence exists to proceed with a indictment. Juries do not get to charge a defendant with a crime different than that brought before them.
It is true that a jury could decide that evidence for the charge brought before them is insufficient, but that they "know" the defendant is guilty of something else, thereby voting to convict of the charge brought before them, anyway. Juries can do that today.
It is hard to see how information from a defense attorney to a jury that they have the power to vote their conscience if they think an injustice is being done will lead to a jury convicting without evidence or to not follow rules of procedure designed to protect the defendant's rights.
But, just in case a criminal defendant or their counsel see it differently, the Jury Nullification Act proposed by Lone Star FIJA allows the defendant and/or counsel to decide whether to inform jurors of their power to vote their conscience. This allows defendants in criminal trials the choice to NOT inform juries if they somehow think a particular set of circumstances might with an informed jury indeed might create a heightened risk for the defendant.
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