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John Durham and the Jury Nullification Crisis

Posted on Saturday, July 22, 2023
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by Andrew Abbott
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AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

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One month after Special Counsel John Durham’s explosive testimony before Congress, many Americans are still asking why there haven’t been more prosecutions and accountability for officials involved in perpetrating the Russiagate hoax.

Durham may have hinted at one big reason why in his final report– although his reasoning is unlikely to sit well with conservatives.

“There are also reasons why, in examining politically-charged and high-profile issues such as these, the Office must exercise — and has exercised — special care,” Durham writes. “First, juries can bring strongly held views to the courtroom in criminal trials involving political subject matters, and those views can, in turn, affect the likelihood of obtaining a conviction, separate and apart from the strength of the actual evidence and despite a court’s best efforts to empanel a fair and impartial jury.”

In other words, Durham seems to be saying, his probe did not result in more court cases and convictions because it was difficult to find juries who were unbiased enough to try the cases. In the same vein, the probe’s poor conviction record was quite clearly the fault of politically motivated juries, not his own shortcomings.

The official legal term for juries that return not guilty verdicts despite clear evidence of guilt is “jury nullification.”

Those who support jury nullification adhere to the belief that jurors, as representatives of the community, possess the authority to act as a check on unjust laws or to mitigate the harshness of the legal system. This view permits jurors to consider the broader context of a case, including factors such as the morality of the law, potential consequences of conviction, or whether the prosecution itself is unjust.

While jury nullification may be seen by some as a safeguard against oppressive laws or the misuse of legal power, it is a controversial and delicate subject in the legal system. Many believe that its use undermines the rule of law and may lead to inconsistent and unpredictable verdicts, while others view it as a valuable recourse to prevent miscarriages of justice.

Some of the most notable occurrences of jury nullification in American history came during the Jim Crow era in southern states. In perhaps the most infamous example, an all-white jury acquitted two men for the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, despite obvious evidence of their guilt.

There has been strong evidence of politically motivated jury nullification in the few prosecutions that stemmed from the Durham probe as well – something which Durham alludes to in his report.

Days after Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman was acquitted of lying to the FBI – despite clear evidence pointing to his guilt – the jury foreperson told Politico, “Personally, I don’t think it should have been prosecuted because I think we have better time or resources to use or spend to other things that affect the nation as a whole than a possible lie to the FBI. We could spend that time more wisely.”

The comments pointed to clear ideological bias within the jury – and raised the alarming possibility that the jury members could’ve reached a not guilty verdict based on these motivations, rather than an objective analysis of the facts of the case.

For Durham, concerns about jury nullification – something which may have been even more prevalent in potential cases against high-profile Democrats or intelligence officials – may have been a factor in choosing not to bring more prosecutions. From Durham’s perspective, one might question what was the point of filing more criminal charges if politically motivated juries would just acquit the guilty parties?

But that excuse does not sit well with many Republicans, who grilled the special prosecutor on why he didn’t do more to hold those responsible for Russiagate accountable. In one particularly heated exchange during Durham’s congressional testimony, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) accused Durham of being “part of the cover-up.”

“It’s not that you didn’t just charge,” Gaetz said. “You didn’t investigate. You didn’t investigate the Mueller team, analyzing their phones and tell us who gave the orders because you’re protecting those people.”

The prospect of juries making decisions based on politics rather than facts is indeed an alarming one for the future of the criminal justice system in the United States – particularly as Democrats launch politically motivated prosecutions of their chief political rival, former President Donald Trump.

At the same time, prosecutors like Durham also have a responsibility to pursue justice – no matter how difficult it may be. After years in which the Russiagate hoax consumed American politics and some of the most powerful people in the country lied in a coordinated effort to take down a president, the American people deserve no less.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.

 

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Sydney
Sydney
11 months ago

I do not believe that I have a ‘ jury of my peers’ any longer. Second, when jurors are sworn in on a panel they swear ( before God whom too many no longer even believe in) to consider the evidence admitted in, weigh the credibility of the witnesses, and render a ‘ just’ verdict. They forswear their oath when they instead allow their political bias, ideology to inform that decision.

TiredAllOverAgain
TiredAllOverAgain
11 months ago

Here’s the problem with many so-called conservatives: they remain afraid of telling the truth, of calling a spade a spade and, as a result, end up supporting stripping of our rights.
Jury nullification is a very valuable and important right and part of the judicial system. The problem isn’t jury nullification; it’s a political and legal system that encourages lawlessness and hatred and disrespect for the law.
Jury nullification is not, and was not, the problem with the FBI and DOJ during the Trump years and into the Biden years. The problem is the deep state corruption and the participation in that corruption by virtually all of the American “Free” press.
And John Durham was deep in the middle of that corruption and coverups. As the article states, Durham never even questioned those who participated in the coverups. The real-time corollary today is the investigation into Hunter Biden and Joe Biden being agents of the Chinese, Ukrainian, and other foreign governments. The Republican-led House of Representative committees doing the investigation have not subpoenaed anyone beyond the first bank. They admit they know of ten banks but have not demanded those records. They continue to send requests to appear rather than demands to appear. They’ve allowed witnesses to testify without being under oath.
The entire government, all levels, all political parties or affiliations, elected or otherwise, participate in the corruption. You cannot tell me a single person in government, not in the Congress, not in the Executive Branch, not in the courts, including the Supreme Court, who is not corrupt or who has not violated their oaths and sold out on the promises they’ve made.
To blame the juries, the people at the very bottom of the barrel, is wrong and dishonest.

Monica
Monica
11 months ago

I am fed up with this entire administration. They are inept and appear that not one person is experienced or qualified for their positions. Biden should not be impeached but instead tried for treason for what he an his criminal administration have done to our country.
Kamala stated that one of our problems was overpopulation…….if she had been doing her job this would not be as much of a problem because millions would not have come to our country illegally. I can barely afford groceries, gas and medical yet we are paying for all of those who come her and refuse to assimilate. I do believe they have a right to enter legally.
We are not a racist country but I fear the more those of color push the agenda it becomes worse. There is a difference between equity and equality. No hiring of those who are not qualified or based on gender or color.
The Dems appear not be in a perpetual state of anger and what is definitely fair they see as not. Every voter should do some research from a reliable source before voting, listen to the debates, etc. Biden has a history of lying and plagiarizing as well as being a narcissist. I pray we get through the rest of his term because he has made my life and others a nightmare.

Henry
Henry
11 months ago

Political bias in political trials. They will all occur in Democratic party strongholds like Wash DC, NYC or the like. Dems will always get acquitted if they get charged at all. Reps will get convicted even if the evidence is weak or nonexistent. The media will pound people like Michael Flynn as guilty even though the evidence is weak. And the criminals who leaked the transcripts of Flynn’s telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador in late 2016 have no fear of being prosecuted. And neither do the MSM that printed or aired those transcripts, even though communicating the content of signals intelligence is one of the few crimes where a journalist can be charged with a crime.
This is disgusting and makes me despair for our country.

Elaine
Elaine
11 months ago

“Jury Nullification” is a copout for not following through on what should be done. It does happen, but when the investigator doesn’t follow through with the charges that should be brought against the wrongdoers, why did he bother since he became the “judge and jury”.
If we never file charges and have it go to trial, then it is up to the prosecutors to prepare their case with the “facts” and do their very best to win the case. At this rate we are turning a blind eye to the corruption and with that it becomes acceptable. That is not what this country is about.
Durham was assigned a job, he did his part and overstepped his authority by becoming judge and jury. He needs to follow through and even if there is “Jury Nullification” they are responsible for the mess, but the seed of what is honest and right has been planted.
Water it!

anna hubert
anna hubert
11 months ago

It’s been said before One hand washes another together they wash the face The hands at work today are so busy they scrub it raw

Nick
Nick
11 months ago

The Durham investigation was nothing but a show investigation. Nothing to see here in this proves it. Go away

Morbious
Morbious
11 months ago

Bottom line- the demon party controls dc and surrounding area. Jury nullification would almost certainly have occurred. However, why engage in political theater when you know this from the git. The honorable thing would’ve been to decline and to do an interview as to why. My guess is that a book is forthcoming wherein he will explain how his task was impossible etc. The book will outline how many things need fixing….by someone else of course.

Sick & tired of the BS
Sick & tired of the BS
11 months ago

Juries for these politcal trials should be heard by an emplanelled and vetted juryies consisting of one jurist each from a rotating group of 12 states. “Rotating through the 50 states.” That would help to prevent the extreme lefists views of the D.C. area or at least somewhat balance those views. There are more political trials coming.

Joe McHugh
Joe McHugh
11 months ago

Special Counsel John Durham is wrong on two counts.
1) Prejudging a jury’s possible bias is not the job of a special counsel. His job is to investigate and then to refer his findings to the attorney general’s office for consideration.
2) John Durham identified the problem of a jury finding an obviously guilty defendant, innocent. What Washington, D.C. jury would find Hillary Clinton guilty of violating the national Security Act? Durham didn’t seem to object to the other possible jury finding, i.e. displaying bias in finding the plaintiff guilty when the plaintiff is obviously innocent. What Washington, D.C. jury would find Donald Trump innocent of anything? In both cases a change of venue would be appropriate.
To fail to seek an indictment because of the possibility that a jury might use personal bias is a dereliction of duty on the part of the investigator. Worse, such dereliction stymies the purpose of the entire judicial system.

Joe from Las Vegas Nevada
Joe from Las Vegas Nevada
11 months ago

Adam Schiff should be taken out in front of the White House and shot by a firing squad.
Even though it has been reported several times, and investigated over and over, Trump did not collude with the Russians. Yet Adam Schiff still goes on the news and states he has proof. Where is it Adam? You caused enough dissention, and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars with not one piece of evidence.
Shoot the Bastard.

David Campbell
David Campbell
10 months ago

John Durham had an impossible task. He had to get the swamp to convict itself. The reasons that would never happen are simultaneously obvious and obscure. Jury nulification is a cunard. Although I believe that it is likely near impossible to get any kind of trial verdict that would be favourable to Trump for the very reasons described, that is not jury nullification. Jury nulification is not just ignoring the law and deciding a case because you want it to come out a certain way; that’s just plain old corruption. Jury nulification is recognizing the law and its validity, but, in a specific case, also recognizing that the law is unable to account for every possible cuircumstance, and that in rare cases applying the law as written would not serve justice (convicting by technicality). Another form of jury nulification is when the government pushes a clearly unconstitutional law, puts someone on trial for breaking that law, and the jury recognizes that the law is unconstitutional and does not convict. A good example of this are laws being passed right now that require a person to “use a person’s preferred pronouns”; clearly this is compelled speech, and if any of you ever find yourself on a jury where the law says a person refused to use that language, ignor the unconstitutional law and find them not guilty.

Fred Noel
Fred Noel
10 months ago

When it comes to prosecuting anyone from the Washington D.C.Swamp we all know the fix is in. That doesn’t mean he should have stopped inditements against those that “bent the law” in order to spy on political opponents should not be indicted for their actions! The more light shined on our corrupt legal system to better.

Chris
Chris
11 months ago

Jury nullification is a hard-earned right inherited from English common law. The jury in the treason trial for William Penn refused to find him guilty and were imprisoned in the Tower of London to try and force the “correct” verdict. They held out and eventually their verdict was accepted and they were released. Are you advocating that jurors be punished for finding the wrong (by law) verdict? That’s the only way to undo jury nullification — and it’s not as far off as you might suppose.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, just like every other right, jury nullification can be abused, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t defend it against gov’t overreach. The courts/legal system are *very* much against it and even the oath they make jurors take has been reworded to cast doubt as to the right of jurors to oppose an unjust law/prosecution. Lawyers are forbidden to bring it up in front of jurors and a pretty much guaranteed way to not get selected as a juror is to mention your belief in jury nullification — the prosecutor will strike you with the judge’s blessing. They try and convince jurors that their only function is “the finding of fact”, not justice. That’s just wrong. We have juries to help the cause of justice, not simply to find facts with a robotic application of the law once the facts are determined. Laws are imperfect because they’re made by imperfect people and because it is extremely hard to make law that is just under all circumstances. Juries are there to deal with the inadequacies of law-making.
Jury nullification is one more (and often last chance) check on gov’t overreach. And in this day and age of ever-expanding and encroaching gov’t, we need it now more than ever as so many of our other checks are failing.

Sick & tired of the BS
Sick & tired of the BS
11 months ago

juries not juryies. Sorry

Kaiju
Kaiju
11 months ago

How about an AI jurist?? Supposed to be purely objective in their analysis, right???

John Bennett
John Bennett
10 months ago

Can the American people do a class action lawsuit against the government for wasting tax payers money for the lies they told the people?

Tom Zenthoefer
Tom Zenthoefer
10 months ago

From Wikipedia:
“The four boxes of liberty is an 19th century American idea that proposes: “There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and cartridge. Please use in that order.””
Don’t forget that there is a sibling to a jury not convicting on the evidence, that of the jury that convicts despite the lack of evidence

Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
10 months ago

John Durham tried to play nice. he did not realize that his allowing of the crimes committed by the democrats would not soft them but rather embolden them to become more blatant in their criminal behavior.

David
David
11 months ago

Bulls#$%!

Ezzie
Ezzie
11 months ago

AMAC, why does you Poll comment section SUCK so badly today? I can’t make an original comment and I can only reply to comments of others. And there’s no upvote or downvote! What’s going on?!?

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