Cecily McMillan: The Jury objects

The letter that jurors wrote to Judge Zweibel regarding Cecily McMillan.

The letter that jurors wrote to Judge Zweibel regarding Cecily McMillan.

Apparently, nine of the jurors who decided the case of Cecily McMillan are suffering from buyer’s remorse. They’ve sent the attached letter to Judge Zweibel asking for leniency in sentencing McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist, who was convicted of assaulting a police officer. According to their letter, they were prevented from learning that a guilty verdict would automatically mean up to seven years in prison. One juror who spoke to the Guardian a few days ago, said (in reference to the majority of the jury) “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.” 

As I’ve noted before, this case has a bit in common with the Plowshares cases I’ve followed. Juries aren’t allowed to hear motivation or context of the protests, and probably don’t understand what a guilty verdict means in terms of the sentences handed out. In fact, the jury that decided the Transform Now Plowshares sentence had been persuaded that the activists should be convicted for sabotage, a first for a Plowshares action and a charge not at all in line with the purpose of their action.

As I’ve noted before, one of the reasons the US didn’t stay as a part of the British Empire is the whole idea of Jury Nullification. This case is exhibit A of why people need to understand their rights as a juror, something I’ve explained here. The judicial system is one of the last vestiges of legitimacy left for the Empire. Once people understand that the courts are fixed, jury nullification may be another major issue for a government that looks increasingly illegitimate.

Occupy Juries.

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