I realize it is hard for some people to understand (especially those holding political office), but in the United States, “We the People” are the sovereigns. America has no king. In America, “We the People” are Caesar. Someone rightly said, “In America, the people rule; they have the power of the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” Amen. And in this land of liberty, nothing is more important than the jury box. The right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers is a benchmark principle of a free land.
Juries have immeasurable power. Not only do they have power over the fate of the accused, they have power over the accusers. No one has more authority than a jury—not even the judge. And without hyperbole I can say that a constitutionally literate, fully informed jury is pretty much all that stands between the ballot box and the cartridge box.
In a letter to Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” And two years before the first musket shot was fired that started America’s War for Independence, a Boston lawyer by the name of John Adams said, “Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds.”
All of the rhetoric of modern judges notwithstanding, juries have a constitutional duty and obligation to judge, not only the merits of the case before them, but also the merits of the law which brought the accused before them. And America’s Founding Fathers agree with what I just said.
John Adams said,
“It is not only his [the juror’s] right, but 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.” Again, this is from one of our country’s most celebrated attorneys, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and America’s second President. America’s first Supreme Court Chief Justice agreed with Adams. John Jay wrote, “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”
The rest of America’s founders agreed with Adams, Jay, and Jefferson. US Supreme Court Justice and signer of the Declaration, Samuel Chase, wrote, “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.” Patrick Henry said, “Why do we love this trial by jury? Because it prevents the hand of oppression from cutting you off…This gives me comfort, that, as long as I have existence, my neighbors will protect me.”
Protect its neighbors is exactly what a jury in Liberty County, Florida, recently did. The neighbor in the case was none other than the county sheriff, Nick Finch. Infowars.com covers the story:
“Nick Finch, the Florida sheriff arrested in June after he defended the Second Amendment, has been declared ‘not guilty’ of the charges brought against him by the State of Florida, according to [former Graham County, Arizona, Sheriff] Richard Mack.
“The Liberty Co. sheriff was charged with felony ‘official misconduct’ and ‘falsifying public records’ after he released a suspect arrested on an unconstitutional gun charge and removed the arrest file.
“After closing arguments by prosecutors and the defense, the jury took less than 90 minutes to reach its verdict.”
The report continues saying, “During the trial, the sheriff testified that he released Floyd Eugene Parrish, who was arrested for unlawfully carrying a firearm, because he believed the Second Amendment trumped all state gun laws.
“As we reported back in June, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement accused Finch of covering up the arrest of Floyd Eugene Parrish after releasing him from the Liberty County Jail.
“On March 8, Sgt. James Joseph Hoagland of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office arrested Parrish during a traffic stop after finding a .25 automatic pistol in Parrish’s right front pocket and a holstered revolver in his car, according to court records.
“Parrish was then taken to the county jail.
“After being notified of Parrish’s arrest, Finch took the arrest file and told jailers that Parrish would be released with no charges, according to investigators.
“Finch also ordered both the pistol and revolver be returned.”
See the report here: Pro-Gun Sheriff Found Not Guilty
This verdict is one of the most important jury decisions in modern history; and how many reports did you see about it in the mainstream media? Where was ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, or FOX News?
Sheriff Finch is a modern-day Daniel. He stood for his principles, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people of his county; and he was thrown into a den of lions by Republican Governor Rick Scott and the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement). But an eight-person jury acquitted him of all charges and the sheriff was reinstated.
This is what a jury is supposed to do: protect its neighbors from the oppression of unlawful government. And that is exactly what that Liberty County jury did. They deserve the gratitude of liberty-loving people all over the United States.
It is pathetic and sad that Governor Scott did not stand with Sheriff Finch as he should have done. Scott threw this modern-day Daniel into the lion’s den, but God delivered him. Now the people of Florida should throw Governor Scott into the lion’s den (as King Darius did to Daniel’s accusers) by impeachment and removal from office for not defending the US Constitution, as he took an oath to do. I guarantee you that Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Chase, and John Jay would have stood with Sheriff Finch. And so would US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Justice Holmes said, “The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.”
And bringing “a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact” is exactly what a Liberty County, Florida, jury did. They upheld the constitutional right of people to keep and bear arms, and they repudiated the Florida State gun-control laws that abridge that right under the rubric of license.
In truth, every law-abiding citizen in this country has a right under the US Constitution to carry his or her arms—concealed or open. It is past time for county sheriffs, State governors, and local juries to follow the example of Sheriff Finch and this Liberty County, Florida, jury. It is time for freedom-loving people in all 50 states to demand that these copious State and local gun-control laws that prohibit or restrict the right of the people to keep AND BEAR arms be expunged. That means, if you are called upon to serve on a jury in a case involving a law that restricts the Second Amendment right to freely keep and bear arms, you should do what this Liberty County, Florida, jury did and acquit the accused.
All over America, sheriffs and governors pretend to be supporters of the Constitution. All over America, sheriffs and governors give lip service to the Second Amendment. It is time the American people start demanding more than lip service from their elected officials. We need sheriffs like Nick Finch. And we need governors like…well, like PATRICK HENRY. (Sadly, I can’t think of a single governor today to use as an example.)
Patrick Henry said he depended on his neighbors, when sitting as a jury, to protect him. Happily, Sheriff Finch has some good neighbors. But in truth, juries do more than protect individuals; they protect liberty itself. Any law that infringes on or contradicts the Bill of Rights should be considered null and void by any citizen-jury. In this way, it is the citizen-jury, not the Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of a law’s constitutionality. Without the veto power of the jury (call it nullification, if you will), America is not a country of, by, and for the People: but a country of, by, and for the politicians and judges.
Kudos to Sheriff Finch and the people of Liberty County, Florida.
If you would like to send personal kudos to Sheriff Finch, here is the website with his contact information:Florida Sheriffs Association—Sheriff Nick Finch.
Dr. Chuck Baldwin left the Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida to move to Montana. His website is here.