"Those people who are not governed by GOD
will be ruled by tyrants."
Edward Bushell and three fellow JURORS learned this lesson well. They refused to bow to the court. They believed in the absolute power of the JURY, though their eight companions cowered to the court. The four JURORS spent nine weeks of torture in prison, often without food or water, soaked with urine, smeared with feces, barely able to stand, and even threatened with fines, yet they would not give in to the judge. Edward Bushell said, "My liberty is not for sale," though he had great wealth and commanded an international shipping enterprise. These "bumble heads", so the court thought, proved the power of the people was stronger than any power of government. They emerged total victors.
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
The year was 1670, and the case Bushell sat on was that of William Penn, who was on trial for violation of the "Conventicle Act." This was an elaborate Act which made the Church of England the only legal church. The Act was struck down by their not guilty vote. Freedom of Religion was established and became part of the English Bill of Rights and later it became the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In addition, the Right to peaceful assembly was founded.Freedom of Speech, and also habeas corpus. The first such writ of habeas corpus ever issued by the Court of Common Pleas was used to free Edward Bushell. Later this trial gave birth to the concept of Freedom of the press.
Had Bushell and his colleagues yielded to the guilty verdict sought by the judge and prosecutor. William Penn most likely would have been executed, as he clearly broke the law.
HE BROKE THE LAW!
Then there would have been no Liberty Bell, no Independence Hall, no city of Philadelphia, and no state called Pennsylvania, for young Wiliam Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and leader of the Quakers, was on trial for his life. His alleged crime was preaching and teaching a different view of the Bible than that of the Church of England. This appears innocent today, but then, one could be executed for such actions. He believed in freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly. He had broken the government's law, but he had injured no one. Those four heroic JURORS knew that only when actual injury to someone's person or property takes place is there a real crime. No law is broken when no injury can be shown. Thus there can be no loss or termination of rights unless actual damage is proven. Many imposter laws were repealed as a result of this case.
IT IS ALMOST UNFAIR!
This trial made such an impact that every colony but one established the jury as the first liberty to maintain all other liberties. It was felt that the liberties of people could never be wholly lost as long as the jury remained strong and independent, and that unjust laws and statutes could not stand when confronted by conscientious JURORS. JURORS today face an avalanche of imposter laws. JURORS not only still have the power and the RIGHT, but also the DUTY, to nullify bad laws by voting "not guilty". At first glance it appears that it is almost unfair, the power JURORS have over government, but necessary when considering the historical track record of oppression that governments have wielded over private citizens.
This excerpt is from the :
The Citizens Rule Book