21 Nov 2013


JUSTUS 57 Comments

[UPDATE below.]

We were all in Chile, they were serving some sort of alcoholic drink, and well, this happened…

Here’s the website.

UPDATE: In all seriousness, I should clarify that those of us promoting “JUSTUS” (or some of them spell it “JUST US”) are not telling people to mislead attorneys when they ask you questions, and we’re certainly not recommending that people vote a certain way in a case. (In my plug above, I was assuming the people who subscribe to my YouTube channel are against the drug war, so I was illustrating with that example.) Rather, we are just letting people know about the concept of jury nullification. Thus people who want to “do something” about what they view as an unjust legal system have the option of not running from jury duty.

57 Responses to “JUSTUS Promo”

  1. oOooOoOOooOOo says:

    Whatcha doing in Chile?

  2. Bala says:

    Just add 12 Angry Men to the cocktail. Actually quite inspirational.

    • Z says:

      That is the greatest movie ever.

  3. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Bob, since you think that the exercise of government power is illegitimate in general, why wouldn’t you just encourage jurors to acquit all the time, rather than just the case of victimless crimes?

    • Bala says:

      Maybe to free more minds in the process of the debate? After all, the real battle is for the minds, isn’t it?

    • Rick Hull says:

      Victims deserve more concern than the perps. I don’t think Bob is against justice. But victimless crimes are indefensible.

    • valueprax says:

      Nice strawman.

      “Oh, you don’t like government provision of X? You must be against X.”

      Try harder.

      • Ken B says:

        Seriously, do you make any effort to understand what people are saying?

        You’re inventive I must say. A strawmanquestion.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Actually there is an insinuated attribution in that question Ken B.

          Keshav is asking for Murphy to explicitly state that murderers, rapists and thieves should walk free. To ask someone that question, even if you think it follows from their stated premises, is to insinuate that it is not unreasonable to assume that they might actually be in favor of unmitigated murder, rape and theft.

          Why didn’t Keshav ask instead this:

          “Bob, since you think that the exercise of government power is illegitimate in general, could you reconcile that with your likely belief that murderers, rapists and thieves should be punished/imprisoned? I don’t see how you could claim to be against murder, rape and theft while having a blanket condemnation position towards the state.”

          No, he didn’t ask it in this way. He asked it in a way that suggests Murphy isn’t being totally upfront about his pro-rape and pro-murder position. VP picked up on it.

          I did too.

          You want to play semantics, because I believe you want Murphy to be viewed in that position, so that you can watch him squirm. That’s your motivation.

          • Keshav Srinivasan says:

            I wasn’t trying to insinuate anything like that. Of course Bob is against murder, it’s one of the ten commandments. I wasn’t trying to say that being against state action against murder means you’re pro-murder. I was just trying to find out why he was only for jury nullification for victimless crimes, when he’s against state action in general.

            • Ken B says:

              Learn something everyday. I never knew Keshav was a marxist insinuator who calls people liars and rape-mongers. Do you support public sidewalks too you monster?

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        I wasn’t making that argument at all.

    • Ken B says:

      That’s a very good question. Bob does not just object to victimless crimes. But I suspect Bob’s reason has to do with the rather sordid past jury nullification has in America. Byron de la Beckwith is my go to example for this, but there are plenty. The open embrace of nullification by neo-Confederates in the Libertarian movement doesn’t help either.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        What about northern juries who nullified the fugitive slave laws? Is that part of the “sordid past”?

        • Ken B says:

          No it’s not. It’s also a lot longer ago than KKK trials in the 60s or the OJ verdict.

          Every now and then a referendum on nullification is proposed. They usually lose big, often very big. Why? Because they are associated with race trials.

          • Tel says:

            No, because if we can’t trust a jury we fundamentally don’t have a society. I’m sure you have mentioned Pareto optima in the past, the whole point being that in order to take drastic action a number of hurdles must be jumped:

            * The voters must elect the legislators.
            * The legislator must legislate.
            * The prosecutor must want to prosecute.
            * The judge must not throw it out.
            * The jury must find someone guilty.
            * The appeal must support it.

            If they are still guilty after all of that, we still don’t strictly have Pareto optimisation (the defendant might still consider themselves innocent) but we have something plausibly close.

            Now you want to take one step out of the process, why?

            • Anon y Mouse says:

              I do?

            • Ken B says:

              Have you attached this comment in the right place Tel? It looks like an argument directed at someone advocating jury nullification. I have not done that here.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        But I suspect Bob’s reason has to do with the rather sordid past jury nullification has in America. Byron de la Beckwith is my go to example for this, but there are plenty.

        Ken B., I’m being serious, what are you trying to say here? Say it plainly.

        • Ken B says:

          Kidding right? Jury nullification has a sordid history in America. It’s not hard to find examples of southern white juries nullifying for dead guilty whites who killed blacks or against innocent blacks who killed whites. (Yes, though rare nullification can include convicting when you should acquit. It’s the same principle, relies on the same rules, ignore the evidence or the law, follow your heart.) Many of us see the OJ verdict as nullification.

          Not all nullifications have been racial, or undesirable. I recall cases with Quakers and other dissenters. But the extensive practice of nullification for race in this country has tarnished the reputation of the practice. That tarnished reputation is part of why FIJA like referenda tend to lose big.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            No Ken, I wasn’t kidding. I am still not sure what you are saying.

            You said you suspected something of what motivated me on this. I still don’t know what your suspicion is.

            • Ken B says:

              Keshav wanted to know why you suggested it just for victimless crimes when you object equally to many victimful crimes. My suggestion is that perhaps you actually want to succeed in your effort. Peddling the idea for victimless crimes like pot is a whole hell of a lot easier than peddling it for laws you simply consider unjust. For one thing it gives you a built in answer to those who would cite racist nullification: those weren’t victimless crimes like smoking a plant at home or drinking a beer when you return from fighting in Iraq with the marines on your 20th birthday.

            • Ken B says:

              Ahhh “suspect” OK I see it now. You think I suspect you of nefarious crypto racist motives. No. I mean suspect like imagine, presume, expect, anticipate.

              • valueprax says:

                You’re too subtle for your own good, Mr. B.

            • Ken B says:

              One last comment on this. A while ago I suggested the vital importance of procedural and formal legal processes in protecting rights. I was roundly condemned and mocked here. But jury nullification relies squarely and completely on just such formalities. It is such formalities that forbid retrying until you get a guilty, that forbid trying jurors.
              So welcome to my side Bob. And if they tried you for posting this I’d nullify.

              • Tel says:

                No process protects “rights” because they are subjective, a process only protects status-quo and tradition, because those things are tangible.

              • Ken B says:

                Jury nullification relies squarely on the legal principle that jurors may not be prosecuted for their decision. This is based on common-law precedents to go back to Coke and further. Attempts were made in English history to prosecute jurors who did not convict. It is these precedents which underlie jury nullification.

                Further in the United States double jeopardy is what makes jury nullification an effective tool for the sort of thing that Bob wants it to be. That again is a formal legal rule.

                In your terms jury nullification is an existent right part of the status quo. And it is protected by formal legal rules. Allow erring urors to be prosecuted and it will wither away.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Tel, wasn’t Edmund Burke’s theory precisely that you could set traditions just right so that “process” will naturally end up preserving liberty?

              • Ken B says:

                Not quite On Burke. He would not argue that you set traditions. He maintained that they grew organically. He would argue that some traditions do protect rights through process. English common law is an example.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Ken B, yes that’s what I meant to say. He thought that if you had the right set of traditions, then process would naturally end up preserving liberty. And he thought that the England of his day had basically by accident gotten almost that exact mix of institutions (with several important imperfections).

          • Ben says:

            “ignore the evidence or the law, follow your heart”

            It’s “ignore the positive law, follow the natural law.”

            • Ken B says:

              You have inadvertently put your finger on one of the problems. You want to license to ignore the law and follow what you conceive of as the natural law. Once that becomes widespread and common than it is impossible to stop others who would use jury nullification for less admirable purposes. Jury nullification has been used extensively to support oppression and racism. Making it socially acceptable again opens the door to such abuses.

              • Ben says:

                Are you suggesting that because jury nullification could be used to support “oppression and racisim”, then it shouldn’t be used at all? Is that like saying because the State could be used to support oppression and racism, then it shouldn’t be used at all? Doesn’t making the State socially acceptable, open the door to such abuses? Or couldn’t we apply that logic to anything that “could be used to support oppression”?

                Besides, I said the standards that someone should use when deciding whether they should nullify a law is whether or not it is a natural law or a positive law. And by natural law, I mean those laws that follow from the right of self-ownership. It seems to me that any laws used to “support oppression and racism” are positive laws and not natural laws.

              • Ben says:

                I also doubt that many non-libertarians would see jury nullification as an acceptable practice. If this is the case, and we assume that the majority of libertarians will be motivated to strike down the use of positive laws and not natural laws (against murder, theft, fraud, etc.), then I don’t think there is a great chance that jury nullification would be used to support oppression and racism.

              • Ben says:

                And couldn’t a jury still be “oppressive and racist” even without jury nullification? Couldn’t a jury still choose to acquit?

              • Ken B says:

                No. I am suggesting it be reserved as it is now, a rare event to check extreme laws in special circumstances. Right now it is seen as a sneaky and socially unacceptable practice. There is a good case for keeping it that way.

              • Ben says:

                Why does it depend on the rarity of extreme laws in order for jury nullification to be acceptable? If exteme laws (positive laws) exist, then they should be nullified; the quantity of extreme laws in existence is irrelevant to the decision on whether a particular extreme law should be nullified.

              • Ken B says:

                Asked and answered. Civil society depends upon unwritten conventions and inhibitions. These are dangerous to dissolve, especially when other remedies are available.

              • Ben says:

                How can nullifying unjust law be more dangerous than the continuance of unjust laws?

                Other remedies? You mean like voting? If so, although it may be an “acceptable” norm, it’s not an effective one.

    • valueprax says:

      The principle of “justice” is above the principle of “fighting the State” so it would be nonsensical to sacrifice “justice” (helping to acquit someone you believe to be guilty of a violent crime) for the principle of “fighting the State” by simply acquitting no matter the crime.

      • Ken B says:

        Keshav did not ask about violent crimes. He asked about crimes with victims. There are many of those which Bob opposes. Keshav asks why Bob does not also advocate jury nullification for those. A response about violent crimes does not answer the question.

        • Ken B says:

          I provide a possible answer below.

  4. Daniel Kuehn says:

    Nice. Taking a look at the practice, it seems that the courts have pushed back on this by administrative means (barring people from getting on juries if they are open to or intend to nullify).

    It might be helpful to address this on the website – how to navigate potentially being prevented from getting on a jury in the first place.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Yes, I would say that it is very hard for somebody that is supportive of jury nullification to get through the voir dire process, if not impossible. You’d basically have to lie, and if you do that then I would imagine that there are statutory consequences.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        How can they prove you’re lying about an opinion?

        During the jury selection phase, you tell them everything they want to hear about truth, justice, and the American way. Once the trial starts, you tell the rest of the jurors about jury nullification and inform them that you will refuse to vote to convict someone for a victimless crime.

        Even IF the other jurors get mad and “report” you, when questioned on it, you just say “oh funny thing, that night after I told you I was totally against drug laws, I went home and saw this great video by Bob Murphy and totally changed my mind right then and there.”

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          Their questions are pretty specific during voir dire, and with the state of information dissemination today, it wouldn’t be very hard to find, say, my opinion on certain laws and jury nullification (if I was indeed the person being asked the questions during voir dire). If you’re a person who is pretty open about expressing your points of view in public (e.g. the internet), it certainly would not be very hard to pin a case against you.

          If you are caught lying during voir dire, this can constitute perjury or obstruction of justice. All federal cases have perjury and OoJ as felonies, state and municipal cases have their own separate laws regarding this, but many also classify these as felonies.

          I don’t know about you, but I already disagree with the whole jury duty process to begin with, but I’m certainly not going to exacerbate my disgust with it further by also acquiring for myself a criminal record and possible prison time and/or fines.

          If you do believe in jury nullification and are called for jury duty, the best course of action is to answer as little as possible and in a neutral manner as possible, and to not volunteer anything beyond their questioning. But trust me, they’re quite good at weeding people out, they do this every day.

  5. Gamble says:

    Apparently the DEA storm troopers were bored and needed some attention. So much for states rights and The First Amendment which includes the right to petition guberment. Medical Marijuana and #64 recreation marijuana were both created by the citizens initiative aka petition for redress.


  6. valueprax says:

    Another great form of “libertarian charity”. Thanks for bringing it to everyone’s attention.

  7. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:


    Why not mislead attorneys? Is this a merely religious objection? If it serves to help people avoid life-destroying penalties for victimless crimes, I’m happy to lie to agents of leviathan.

    To use the extreme example (OH NO GODWIN’S LAW), if you were hiding Jews during the holocaust, and the gestapo knocked on your door and said, “Any Jews in here?” would you be completely honest with them? Would you tell others not to mislead the gestapo?

    • Gamble says:

      It is not lying when responding to government because government is the lie.

  8. Ken B says:

    For my part and perhaps to address Keshav’s question I think that there is an important logical distinction between crimes with and without a victim from an anarchists point of view.

    Being on a jury is not simply being forced to do something by a government. Because we do not allow vigilantism the jury trial is the only effective method whereby victims may seek justice without being subject to retributions themselves. When you promise to do your duty faithfully as a juror you are making that promise not nearly to the government but to the victims of crimes and to the accused.
    You may feel that you’re entitled to lie to the government do you also feel you’re entitled to lie to the victim or the victims family?
    The victimless nature of the crime is important in determining who ias an anarchist you feel you are allowed to flout or deceive.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      Don’t Rothbardians believe that you’re not allowed to engage in deception? Isn’t that part of the non-aggression principle?

      • Ken B says:

        Not being one myself I can’t give a definitive answer but I believe that they would argue that they are reacting to aggression from the government.

      • Ben says:

        This doesn’t apply if you’re deceiving your aggressors. If you are deceiving someone who is entering into a voluntary exchange with you, then this would be considered fraud.

        • Gamble says:

          Yup, it is nearly impossible to lie/deceive guberment…

          Sure you need to pay for what you use, but how can you determine the price? Tax cheaters who pay zero taxes are thieves but how are they suppose to know the real price of the services they used?

          You have to have property before you can lie or be lied to…

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Keshav, in a simple word: No..

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