Citizens Rule Book

From dKosopedia

Citizens Rule Book is an anonymously written short manual about the rights of juries in the United States. The author of the Rule Book argues that jurors have the right to nullify a trial if the jury members disagree with the law of which a defendant has been accused. The book is popular among tax protesters, members of the Christian Patriot movement, and opponents of the "War on Drugs."

Contents

Contents

The Citizens Rule Book is divided into three sections. The first section deals with the rights of juries, the second section discusses the alleged views of American founders regarding jury trials, and the third section summarizes important founding documents of the United States.

Section 1: A Handbook for Jurors

The Citizens Rule Book argues that jurors are "above the law" and may nullify any law with which they disagree. It claims that a citizen's power comes directly from God, therefore jurors are not beholden to decisions made by judges or other government agents. According to the book, "each JUROR has MORE POWER than the President, all of Congress, and all of the judges combined!"[1]

By issuing a verdict of "not guilty", even against the wishes of all other jurors, a single juror may "hang" a trial, resulting in a mistrial. The Rule Book advocates the use of this tactic to overturn cases in which a person is guilty of a crime, but the juror feels that the law in question is unconstitutional.

This section also includes an argument that the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights are based on the Biblical Ten Commandments. In contrast, "many of the planks of the Communist Manifesto are now represented by law in the U.S."[2]

Section 2: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

In this section, the Citizens Rule Book argues that the founders of the United States believed all juries should be composed of people who personally know the accused. It quotes Patrick Henry, Representative John Holmes, and Declaration of Independence signatory James Wilson to the effect that jurors should be familiar with the "character" of the defendant on trial.

The Rule Book cites Bushel's Case as a classic example of a jury overriding a judge's ruling. In the case, two Quakers, William Penn and William Mead were tried for unlawful assembly in a challenge to the Conventicle Act, a law that restricted religious practices. The jury refused to convict the men, but the judge would not accept their ruling. Juror Edward Bushel refused to pay a fine levied by the judge. A higher court later ruled that the judge was wrong to overturn the acquittal.

Section 3: Index to the Original Documents

In this section, the Citizens Rule Book provides summaries and commentaries on three important founding documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Popularity

The Southern Poverty Law Center claims that the Citizens Rule Book is popular among "antigovernment 'Patriots'".[3] It is sold online by companies that cater to tax protesters and Christian Patriots, such as the Patriot Network, as well as by Young Earth Creationist Kent Hovind.

The book is also given away free by an online retailer with every copy of Aaron Russo's film America: Freedom to Fascism. [4]

In 1997 Idaho Trials

The "Citizens Rule Book" had a significant role in the 1997 Idaho trials of three Christian Identity militants and members of the Idaho Militia, who identified themselves as "Phinehas Priests". The three - Charles Barbee (45), Robert Berry (43) and Verne Jay Merrell (51) - were charged with bombing a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, the Spokane Valley office of The Spokesman-Review, and with twice robbing a U.S. Bank branch (April 1 and July 12, 1996).

A first trial, in April 1997, ended with a "hung jury" over the persistent refusal of a single juror to convict (as in the tactic advocated by the book).

In the second trial, on July 1997, Judge Frem Nielsen asked if any juror had read the "Citizens Rule Book", and told them that if any held to any of those feelings or beliefs, they "wouldn't be qualified to serve as a juror on this case." In the course of the trial a copy of "The Rule Book" taken from Barbee's home by the FBI was offered as evidence by the defense, over the strong objections from the FBI. It was permitted by Judge Nielsen, but he warned the jurors "not to take the pamphlet to heart".

The accused made statements effectively admitting to the acts they were charged with but claiming that that had been morally justified under various religious-political arguments - in effect appealing to the jury to assume the authority which the "Citizens Rule Book" said it had and find them not guilty even though they admitted to breaking the law. This failed, however, and the second trial ended with convictions<ref>An account ideologically friendly to the accused and claiming that the "Citizens Rule Book" was "nothing but the U.S. Constitution" was published in "The Biblical Examiner" on August 1997 [5].</ref>

References

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External links