You are here
Home > Perspective > Clarence Darrow and Jury Nullification

Clarence Darrow and Jury Nullification

Clarence Darrow’s closing arguments in Leopold & Loeb resonates today in the Denver Urban Camping Ban and Jury Nullification Trials.
 
“You can trace it all down through the history of man. You can trace the burnings, the boilings, the drawings and quarterings, the hangings of people in England at the crossroads, carving them up and hanging them, as examples for all to see.”

Darrow continued:

“We can come down to the last century when nearly two hundred crimes were punishable by death, and by death in every form; not only hanging that was too humane, but burning, boiling, cutting into pieces, torturing in all conceivable forms.

I know that every step in the progress of humanity has been met and opposed by prosecutors, and many times by courts. I know that when poaching and petty larceny was punishable by death in England, juries refused to convict. They were too humane to obey the law; and judges refused to sentence. I know that when the delusion of witchcraft was spreading over Europe, claiming its victims by the millions, many a judge so shaped his cases that no crime of witchcraft could be punished in his court. I know that these trials were stopped in America because juries would no longer convict.

Gradually the laws have been changed and modified, and men look back with horror at the hangings and the killings of the past. What did they find in England? That as they got rid of these barbarous statutes, crimes decreased instead of increased; as the criminal law was modified and humanized, there was less crime instead of more. I will undertake to say, Your Honor, that you can scarcely find a single book written by a student, and I will include all the works on criminology of the past, that has not made the statement over and over again that as the penal code was made less terrible, crimes grew less frequent”.

Now in the year 2015, in Denver, Colorado we arrest a man for doing nothing more than informing the citizen of their rights, committing the crime of passing out a pamphlet explaining their rights as a juror. Mark Lanicelli was arrested and jailed for this crime.

The police arrest a man, woman or child, that have already suffered the humiliation of being homeless for the crime of falling asleep in public, something that every human must do. They call this law the “Camping Ban”. Along with being homeless, they are thrown into jail and given a criminal record.

The above two examples are crimes committed by the city of Denver against the citizens.

These crimes will end only when the people of Denver find their voice and say no to the prosecutors with Jury Nullification.

Leave a Reply

Top