Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FLDS and Texas position themselves. The Jury.

Trial dates are now set for the Jessop custody case in September, and the alleged adult molesters in October. What goes on in between? Well, for one, a little legal jury tampering.

The Salt Lake Tribune - "Willie Jessop met with the four-member commission during a recess in a criminal hearing for 10 FLDS men being held on an upper floor of the county courthouse.

Jessop, spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, invited the commissioners to 'mosey out' to the ranch as part of a plea that the county 'acknowledge we exist.'

More pointedly, Jessop said the FLDS feel they aren't fairly represented in the county despite the ranch's status as the third largest property taxpayer.

'Do we have a say on what goes on in the county at all?' Jessop asked.

He questioned why no FLDS had been called to serve on juries in the small county, which has a jury pool of 2,500.

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran explained the random selection process, which draws jurists from voter's registration and drivers license records. About 140 FLDS members registered to vote after the April 3 raid on the ranch."

Several trials, and 2500 available potential jurors represent an interesting problem as there are now several FLDS related trials, the custody trial of Merrianne Jessop coming first, from another article;

"(Barbara Walther) acknowledged that seating a second jury in Schleicher County after the initial trial could be difficult. There are 2,500 people in the county's jury pool, she said. She recently had to cull through 175 names to get 45 people qualified for an unrelated criminal case."

Willie also said after pointing to the prodigious amount of Tax YFZ contributes;

"(I)t now feels like 'we're paying for our own demise.'

Jessop told the commissioners that the sect needs 'your help in giving us some ideas on what we can do to be the best neighbors.'

The response from the commission? 'Duly noted,' said commissioner and county judge Charlie Bradley."

We're now getting an idea of what jury trial in small town America used to be like. There weren't a lot of available jurors, they all knew you if you were local. They had to balance what they knew about you, what they knew would be the result of the trial with what they believed about your guilt. They could also, in the end, practice jury nullification, deciding as a "jury of peers" that the law, not the defendant was wrong. Jury nullification is an old principle, dating back to the days of our founders, and part of the principle behind the idea of jury trial. It is rarely included in any kind of jury instruction by the judge, but it is not a constitution twisting idea, rather it is an anti despotism idea. "If you make laws that don't apply to us, fine," the idea goes. "We'll just vote against them one by one as they come up, in our community." It's the American Citizen's right to hold a little revolution, right in their own town, and go home in time for dinner. It is designed to prevent dominance of one branch of government over another, through criminalization. Texas can make it illegal to have open pit barbecues, but Scheicher County can just refuse to convict.

If Texas has trouble coming up with neighbors who will convict the FLDS after they've had all year to campaign with the locals, that's their problem. If Texas can't find enough jurors without including those of a major religion in Scheicher County, they should have thought of these things first. It's going to be a literal hot house environment, as well as a political hot house. The courthouse in Eldorado, has no air conditioning.

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1 comment:

Pliggy said...

"It is not only his right but also his duty… to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." -John Adams

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution." —Thomas Jefferson, 1789 letter to Thomas Paine