What happened with the Bundys?

Written by Bob Maschi   
Friday, 28 October 2016 08:59

So a group of heavily armed men attack, occupy and hold federal property. As media hounds they record their actions, make rebellious statements and hold hostage the nation’s attention for several weeks.

Later, they are caught and tried ion a federal court. And, despite all the evidence, they are found innocent. Which leads to many people asking: wtF (with a capital F).

Well, details are sketchy. But here’s a quick view. First, we can expect that the prosecution was lax. There is very little reward for a prosecutor who works this trial and a guilty verdict could, without doubt, end a political career faster than stepping on a kitten.

Add in that the entire system is corrupt to the point that we can never actually know what was said and done behind the scenes. Unless Assange find more secret emails we’ll never know. But few people can possibly have any doubt that the verdict would have been different if the defendants were Black, or Communists, or Muslim.

But, really, it seems that the main reason for this outrageous verdict boils down to two words: Jury Nullification.

Jury Nullification is the idea that the jury can ignore evidence, judge’s instructions, the law and all else if they disagree with the law, the actions of law enforcement or for any other reason. And, really, this is true since once the trial is over and the jury is sent off, there is no higher power than those people in that room.

The idea of Jury Nullification is often thrown around right wing circles – like the ones that the Bundys support. And it is being claimed that it was a major part of the Bundys’ legal defense. So we can assume that at least a couple jury members were proponents of this tactic and, probably, convinced the other jurors to go along with them.

So, now what? Absent any actual bribes the jury is immune from prosecution and the Bundys are immune from being prosecuted again under the Double Jeopardy laws. This case is over.

But not the next one. Remembering all this, next time you are called for jury duty, or know someone called for jury duty, or are explaining our legal system to your children, be sure to consider Jury Nullification. Further, consider engaging in this act for any and every trial brought before you as a jurist. That Black man caught selling cigarettes? Set him free. That woman defending herself from an abusive lover? Innocent! It is primarily poor and working people who are held responsible for their crimes – no matter how minor. All while rich guys like the Bundys go free. The system is totally corrupt to the point of being illegitimate. It needs to be taken down.

There will be exceptions to this, of course. We should decide to hold the murderer or the child molester to account. Or we might actually want that rich white banker to serve jail time for stealing from the public (not that rich white bankers ever actually go to trial).

Jury Nullification should not be a tactic reserved for the right wing. It belongs to the rest of us as well.

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