Thursday, February 22, 2007

Uphold the law or follow your conscience?

Imagine you are juror during the early 1800s. The case involves a Christian couple standing trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Acts (Click here for details). You know that their fate hangs on what the jury will decide. As someone who finds slavery morally wrong, you also know that if this couple is convicted, it will send a message to other abolitionists not to help runaway slaves. A conviction, therefore, could prevent countless slaves from escaping to freedom.

As a juror, should you be free to find the defendants innocent even though they clearly violated the law? While sitting on a jury, should you be allowed to vote your conscience or must you simply decide the facts of the case?

Tune in to upcoming blogs for Part 2 of a continuing discussion on jury rights. As always, I welcome your comments.


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