Friday, September 30, 2005

Are Juror’s Oath’s which Require Jurors to Follow the Judge’s Instructions Unconstitutional?

In a recent piece for on Mansfieldism, Jon Roland raised an interesting point. He points out that Article VI of the Constitution of the United States requires “all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution.”
The oath currently prescribed by congress is the following, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
Roland then asks are not jurors judicial officers of the state or federal government which impanels them. If they are judicial officers shouldn’t they take the oath to uphold the constitution? If they should take an oath to uphold the constitution would that not then preclude them from taking an oath to follow the judges directions? After all what if they think the judge is instructing them to follow an unconstitutional law, would they not then be required by their oath to uphold the constitution, to disregard the judges instructions.
I admit that I maybe prejudiced, because I am a believer in jury nullification, but I find this argument convincing.


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