IDAHO SECRETARY OF STATE
Ben Ysursa, Secretary of State
|Contact Person / Organization||
|Status||Deadline has passed. Proposed initiative will not be on the November 2010 ballot.|
|Short Ballot Title||
An initiative regarding the rights of jurors to determine both the facts and the law in a case.
|Long Ballot Title||
An initiative related to juries; amending Title 2, Idaho Code by adding a new Chapter 7 to establish that juries have the right to determine both the facts and the law in a case based on their best understanding of the clear meaning of the law and to prohibit judges from requiring that juries by bound by the judge’s interpretation of the law.
|Attorney General Certificate of Review||Can be viewed by following this link to the Attorney General's web site. This document is provided in PDF file format, you must have a PDF reader installed on your computer to view the file.|
SECTION 1. PURPOSE. (1) The tradition of jury nullification has a long and distinguished tradition in the United States of America. While many openly acknowledge "The existence of an unreviewable and unreversible power in the jury, to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge" (United States v. Dougherty 473 F.2d 1113) the trend in recent years is for judges to deliver jury instructions which directly contradict this long standing common law right of the jury to determine both the facts and the law. Given that many judges are appointed by officials who stand to benefit the most from the arbitrary exercise of unlimited governmental power, the people of Idaho find it necessary to firmly re-establish with no doubt the check of jury nullification on tyrannical and unconstitutional laws dispensed by state and local governments as advocated by the founding fathers.
SECTION 2. That Title 2, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW CHAPTER, to be known and designated as Chapter 7, Title 2, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
2-701. SHORT TITLE. That this act shall be known and cited as the "Idaho Informed Jury Act."
2-702. SCOPE OF LEGISLATION. This act shall apply to any court established by the Legislative branch of the State of Idaho pursuant to the authority of Article V, Section 2 of the Idaho State Constitution.
2-703. AFFIRMATION OF RIGHTS OF JURORS. In any court covered by 2-702, Idaho Code, the jury has an unquestioned right to determine both the facts and the law in a case based on their best understanding of the clear meaning of the law. They also have the right to ignore any judicial precedents they believe to be in error.
2-704. JURY INSTRUCTIONS. No judge of any court described in Section 2-702, Idaho Code:
2-705. STATEMENT TO JURY. Prior to jury deliberations, the following statement shall be read by the judge or other person so appointed by him or her:
"It is my obligation to inform you of your rights as a jury. None other than the first Chief Justice of the United States supreme court, John Jay, recognized the right of juries to judge both the fact and the law at trial. This was a common view among our founding fathers who saw the jury as a check against an arbitrary and overreaching government. While a judge presiding over a case is often in the best position to determine the application of the law in such case, you have the right as jurors to disregard his or her interpretation of the law depending on your plain understanding of the text of the law and its relation to the Constitution of Idaho and the United States Constitution.
The law was made for the people to plainly understand their obligations and responsibilities in civil society, and should be of no private interpretation to people specializing in the law. The difference between the common sense interpretation and that of judges and people in the legal profession can be that the latter often are constrained in their interpretation by precedent; however, such precedents can be completely wrong based on the composition of the court at the time, as judges are often political appointments made by people who might prefer to see our Constitution transformed to a living, breathing document and not the document that it is - a social compact meant to severely constrain the powers of government to threaten the life, liberty, and property of the people.
You, the jury, are the last line of defense against government power gone rogue. It was through failure of juries convict people of violations of fugitive slave laws that was in large part responsible for them becoming ineffective prior to the war between the states.
Today you will be given a copy of the United States Constitution as well as the Constitution for the state of Idaho. If any law in this case violates either of those documents as you plainly understand them, you are obligated to ignore such unconstitutional law in your deliberations and final decision. Remember, that your decision is affecting the life or property of one or more persons and if you blindly accept a law you know to be wrong, against the Constitution or the principles governing normal human conscience, you are just as guilty of harming this person or persons as those who passed such an unjust law. Remember also that if you ever serve on a jury in a federal case, supreme court rulings have affirmed the rights of the jury to determine both the facts and the law, even if the judge instructs you that such rights do not exist and that you are barred in his or her court room from exercising them."
2-706. CONSTITUTIONS DISTRIBUTED. Subsequent to the reading of the statement contained in 2-705, Idaho Code, and prior to the initiation of deliberations, all members of the jury will be handed an up to date copy of the Constitution of the State of Idaho and the United States Constitution.
2-707. REMEDIES. (1) If the provisions of Sections 2-704, Idaho Code, are violated in any particular case, such violations shall be immediate grounds for a mistrial.
2-708. SEVERABILITY. If a part of this chapter is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of this chapter is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.
SECTION 3. That Section 2-101, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended to read as follows:
2-101. JURY DEFINED. A jury is a body of men or women, or both, temporarily selected from the citizens of a particular county and invested with power to present or indict a person for a public offense or to try a question of fact and law.
SECTION 4. That Section 9-102, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended to read as follows:
9-102. QUESTIONS OF LAW ADDRESSED TO COURT.
SECTION 5. That Section 19-2129, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended to read as follows:
19-2129. DECISION OF QUESTIONS OF LAW. The court must decide
SECTION 6. That Section 19-2131, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended to read as follows:
19-2131. DECISION OF QUESTIONS OF LAW AND FACT IN OTHER TRIALS
SECTION 7. If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.