For more than 300 years, juries have had the right of "jury nullification"--the right to declare criminal defendants 'not guilty' even if the government proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But judges and prosecutors have long viewed jury nullification with contempt, and have sought to conceal this right from juries by various means. In many modern courtrooms, judges falsely instruct juries that they must convict whenever the government meets its burden of proof. And often judges threaten and intimidate jurors by reminding them of their oaths and suggesting that jurors might face punishment if they use their powers of nullification. In several recent instances, jury rights educators have been arrested for "jury tampering" merely for standing near courthouses and handing out flyers and pamphlets informing the public about jury nullification. In this presentation, Dr. Roger Roots discusses the history of the right to trial by jury and some of the contemporary threats to juries and jury rights.
Dr. Roger Roots is a legal advisor to the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), the oldest and largest organization dedicated to informing jurors of their rights. Roger is also long-time Libertarian activist, attorney, researcher and scholar. Roger is the author of the book, The Conviction Factory: The Collapse of America's Criminal Courts (2014) and numerous libertarian law review articles. He is an infrequent contributor to Lewrockwell.com and other libertarian websites. As an attorney, Roger recently wrote an amicus curiae brief on behalf of FIJA in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of United States v. Noah Kleinman, involving a major medical-marijuana prosecution. In the Kleinman trial, the trial judge falsely instructed the jury that the jury was required to convict the defendant(s) if the government proved its case, and told the jury there was "no such thing as valid jury nullification." Roger is also the current Libertarian Party candidate for Montana Secretary of State and was the Libertarian Party's candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana in 2014.