Juries were instituted in England to act as protection from arbitrary decisions of the King. Originally, the judges in England instructed the juries that they must uphold the law. However the jury has the authority to vote anything between guilty and not guilty (i.e. guilty in part). The jurors cannot be questioned about their decision or how it was reached. Nor can they be overruled. In criminal cases, only the Defendant can appeal. The state cannot file an appeal.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. Two men in England, William Penn and William Mead, openly practiced their Quaker religion. This was a violation of law in England, where the only allowed religion was the Church of England. (Remember why the Puritans came to America on the Mayflower) They were tried as criminals in an English Court. The judge INSTRUCTED the jurors to find Penn and Mead guilty. However the jury returned with a not guilty verdict. At this point the Judge locked the jurors up for three weeks with orders to change their verdict. The jury refused. Finally a higher court ordered the jurors released.
I do not know what became of William Mead. However William Penn came to America and founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania based on religious freedom. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were the only two states that had religious freedom initially. The first Jewish congregation in America was founded in Rhode Island.
Freedom of religion was never given by a national government. It was wrested from the King of England by a few determined citizens.
The first jury nullification case in the U. S. occurred in the early 1700s, when America was still a colony of England. Peter Zenger published a newspaper in New York in which he criticized Governor Crosby, an appointee of the King. It was a crime to criticize the King or any of his appointees. Zenger was tried. In spite of the law, the jury found him not guilty. That is how we got freedom of the press. The government never gave it to us. A few good citizens wrested if from the government.
The most dramatic case of jury nullification occurred in the U. S. in the 1850s. Juries in the north refused to return runaway slaves to their masters. This was not only a nullification of the law. It was nullification of a section of the U. S. Constitution.
More recent examples involve obscenity and prostitution. When I lived in State College, PA, I was arrested 15 times. In this way, I became friendly with the District Attorney. He told me of an obscenity case he recently tried. It was clear that the adult bookstore was violating the law. However the jury returned a not guilty verdict. The DA told me that he would never try an obscenity case again, and he didn't.
Prostitution is rife in the U. S. as can easily be verified by checking a website called EROS. Rarely is there a trial anywhere in the U. S. for prostitution. When the authorities think that some ladies (or men) of pleasure are getting out of hand, they always prosecute them for tax evasion.
As school children, we were taught that our founding fathers in their wisdom gave us the Bill of Rights. That is an outright lie. The Continental Congress objected to the Bill of Rights. However, the 13 states were so afraid of a national government that they refused to ratify the U. S. Constitution unless a Bill of Rights was incorporated. Thirteen amendments were submitted of which 10 were incorporated into the Constitution. Initially these rights were only limitations on the federal government, not the states. Only when the 14th Amendment was ratified at the conclusion the Civil War did they become binding on the states.
Many U. S. courts, of which the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is one, require their judges to instruct the jury that it must uphold the law as the judge gives it to them. I know this for a fact, because I am trying two cases there now. This is in violation of several U. S. Supreme Court decisions, as well as the autonomy of the jury.
Originally, I went to the U. S. District Court in Manhattan to inform juries of their rights. For me this is now the secondary issue. The primary issue has become freedom of speech. Jury nullification has become the vehicle to reclaim this right.
You should be aware that only in my second kidnapping of three was I cited for any violation of law. The police do not take me to a prison. They take me to psychiatric hospitals. I have complained to the personnel in the hospitals that they are being used as holding cells for the police and that they should be ashamed of themselves. The police and the psychiatrists think that I a harmless nut. Always I am released with instructions to seek help at a psychiatric clinic.
They are wrong on one account and right on another. They are wrong that I am harmless. I intend to have them lose their jobs, pay heavy monetary penalties, and perhaps go to prison.
They are right that I am crazy, because I believe that "Congress shall make no law" means that "Congress shall make no law." I am aware that this is a nutty interpretation of the English language, but I insist on it. I may be wrong, but I am never uncertain.
There are two kinds of people in this world: reasonable and unreasonable. A reasonable person adjusts his or her behavior to the customs of society. An unreasonable person insists that society change it customs to accommodate him or her. I am an unreasonable person. I hope that you are also.