All Maine Matters

October 2006



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All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 10      October 2006 FREE

Why a Fully Informed Jury?
By Bud Landry

In the 1690s, the Salem witch trials were brought to an end when fully informed juries of the day refused to convict fifty times. The government, finally seeing that the people thought little of the law, abandoned the law under which they were being prosecuted.

In 1670, William Penn was arrested in London for preaching a Quaker sermon, breaking a law that made the Church of England the only legal church. His jurors, led by Edward Bushell, refused to convict him, despite being held for days without food, water, tobacco, or toilet facilities-and being fined. The most defiant four of them were put in prison for nine weeks. The highest court of England, upon releasing the defiant jurors, both acknowedged and established that jurors could not be punished for their verdicts. Recognition of our freedoms of religion, peaceable assembly and speech can thus all be traced to the excercise of Fully informed jury power, wielded by juries unintimidated by government judges.

In 1735, John Peter Zenger was arrested for sedition when he printed the truth about the corrupt practices of the of the Royal Governor of New York. While the charges were true, the jury was told that under the law, truth was no defense. Zenger’s attorney, Andrew Hamilton, argued to the jury that they were judges of the merit of the law and should not go against good conscience to convict Zenger of volating such bad law. The jurors agreed. Zenger was acquitted in about fifteen minutes, and his case, with a Fully informed jury, helped to establish the RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.

In 1789, Thomas Jefferson said in a letter to Thomas Paine, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet devised by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution.

John Adams, America’s second president, said in 1771, “It is not only [the juror’s] right, but it is his find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.

Without the power to decide what facts, law and evidence are applicable, JURIES cannot be a protection to the accused. If people acting in the name of government are permitted by JURORS to dictate any law whatever, they can also unfairly dictate what evidence is admissible or inadmissable and thereby prevent the Whole Truth from being considered. Thus if government can manipulate and control both the law and the evidence, the issue of fact becomes virtually irrelevant. In reality, true justice would be denied leaving the people with a trial by government and not a trial by JURY,

In Oak Park, Illinois a few years ago, a gas station owner drew a gun to defend himself against an armed robbery. Oak Park has a handgun ban, so the prosecutor threw the book at the gas station owner. A Fully informed jury speedily acquitted him, although the facts seemed to clearly prove the station owner was guilty. Was the jury acting illegally? Not at all. The jury was simply excercising it’s power to judge the law as well as the facts. The jury apparently determined that in this particular case, it would be unjust to punish the gas station owner for violating the handgun prohibition.

Which of the people in the examples above would our fourteen Judiciary Committee members in Augusta have found guilty?

Strange bedfellows.
The desire for Fully informed jury laws has created an amazingly diverse coalition of bedfellows nation-wide. It does include organizations such as the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America and other pro-Second Amendment groups, Anti-nuclear and pacifist groups, Tree-hugging Earth Firsters along with timber-cutting Wise Use advocates, Peace and Justice groups throughout the nation, Radical pro-abortionists sit along side Eagle Forum anti-abortionists at Fully Informed Jury meetings and the list could go on and on.

One group that is conspicously absent from this list are the Anti-gun groups. They apparently fear that fully informed juries would become a significant obstacle to enforcement of repressive gun control laws. Could this be the reason the Judiciary Committee in Augusta voted unanimously against Fully informed juries?

It is easily understood why the state sends high-powered people to argue against fully informed juries at the hearings and workshops. If there were ever to be Fully informed juries in the State of Maine, the courts would lose the power to inform juries that they must judge only the facts in a case and the court WOULD judge the law. The juries would then know of their Constitutional Right to judge the law as well as the facts and reach a verdict according to their conscience. As John Adams, America’s second President said in 1771: “ It is not only [the jurors] right, but it his find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” The courts today would look on former President John Adams as a wild eyed radical and would jail him for jury tampering.

If the people of Maine would like to be able to protect their friends and neighbors from unconstitutional, unfair, unjust and oppressive laws they should get behind the Fully Informed Jury movement. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Write and call your state Representatives and Senators. Ask these people why they do not trust their constituents.

Until the people act to nullify these bad laws our untrusting, untrustworthy politicians in Augusta will keep passing more and more laws that create more and more crimes against the state.

Bud Landry lives in Abbott, Maine and can be reached at

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