Nothing in the U.S. Constitution or in any Supreme Court decision requires jurors to take an oath to follow the law as the judge explains it or, for that matter, authorizes the judge to 'instruct' the jury at all. Judges provide their interpretation of the law, but you may also do your own thinking. Keep in mind that no juror's oath is enforceable, and that you may regard all 'instructions' as advice."
"... That is why very few lawyers or law professors, only some judges, and practically no school teachers know about jury veto power: it's 'not part of the curriculum'. Few history books give juries the credit they're due--for stopping the Salem witch trials, for overturning slavery in state after state before the Civil War, and for ending Prohibition--all by refusing to convict because they thought the law itself was wrong. *** "
"Yet to this day, trial jurors retain the right to veto, or 'nullify' bad laws, though they are rarely told this by the courts. Prosecutors and judges try to exclude people from serving on juries who admit knowing they can judge the law, or who have doubts about the justice of the law. This destroys the protections jurors were supposed to be able to invoke on behalf of fellow citizens against unjust prosecutions: how can our right to a trial by an impartial jury be met if those with any qualms about the law are excluded from serving?"
"The authors of the United States Constitution considered the right to trial by jury -- more accurately, the prohibition on government taking away a citizen's life, liberty or property without the unanimous consent of a randomly chosen citizen jury -- so important that it's the only right to which they devoted two of the first 10 amendments."
"'...we are out here doing what we think we need to do," said Nathaniel Livingston Jr., a leader of the group. 'We feel like [the officer] should not be able to run away and hide in his suburban apartment. There has to be some type of consequences, even if it is something like public protest.' *** Several members of the Woodlawn Police Department, including Chief Walter Davis, watched Saturday's protest. *** Officers directed traffic around the marchers, forced to protest in the street because there is no public sidewalk in front of Officer Depodesta's home."
An automatic, fill-in-the-blank public-records request generator
One of the most effective means of obtaining relevant information from police departments (including, for example, information regarding disciplinary procedures, statistics, and etc), is to submit a public records disclosure request. Such a request forces the agency to respond, and provides legal sanctions (including the awarding of attorney's fees and monetary damages), for failure to comply.
The best example of how this technique can be used to force accountability upon the police is found on the website Justicefiles.org. This site contains a wide variety of "personal" information regarding hundreds of police officers in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. All of this information was obtained via the Washington State public disclosure law, (supplemented with data purchased from commercial information brokers). It goes without saying that the cops are infuriated by this website.
Most police departments are loath to release documents which may embarrass or incriminate them, and often attempt to improperly resist disclosure. Even the submission of a completely innocuous public records disclosure request often causes a police department a great degree of agitation and concern.
Utilize this "automatic letter generator" to create a properly phrased and formatted request for public records held by a state or local agency. The form prompts you to input the appropriate information in the appropriate context, and generates an authoritative and professional request.
Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, address your request to the head of the department or agency (e.g. the Chief of Police, the County Sheriff, etc.). They will then ensure that the request is routed to the proper individual.
You MUST send the letter via certified mail, return-receipt-requested. It is absolutely crucial to send the letter in this manner. (Be sure to save the certified mail receipt and the return receipt in a safe place).
Alternatively, you may hand-deliver it (but if you do, you MUST bring two copies and have them both receipt-date-stamped by the receptionist: give them one copy, and keep the other yourself). ALWAYS keep a copy for yourself, because you will have to prove what you delivered, and when you delivered it.
If you do not hear back from the agency within the time specified by the letter, contact an attorney.