Scott Bach is calling on the New Jersey Statehouse to do something about the state’s laws which entrap honest gun owners. Brian Aitken isn’t the first, not by far. He was just lucky enough to get caught up in the perfect storm. There are a lot of honest citizens walking around New Jersey with felony convictions because they ran afoul of a technicality. This, to me, is also a disturbing part:
But that never happened because the judge refused to let the jury consider the testimony or the exemptions themselves: He had predetermined that none applied.Â Counsel protested repeatedly, and the jury itself three times asked why it couldnâ€™t consider the exemption, but the judge refused every request, eventually lecturing the jury: â€œThe issue of whether the defendant was moving, and therefore entitled to an exemption from the permit requirement, is not before you.â€ Accordingly, the jury had no choice but to convict merely because there were firearms present.
“It is unbelievable how much power a judge possesses,” the e-mail read. “Why wasn’t the exception allowed by the judge??? Did he have something against you or your attorney???? Again, glad to see you are out.”
See, I don’t absolve the jury of blame in this injustice. To me they are just as guilty as the prosecutor and the judge. Ignorance of their civic duty is no excuse. The judge has exactly zero power to punish a jury for a verdict, even in New Jersey. If the jury felt that Aitken should not be convicted, they should have acquitted him despite the judges orders. The fact that a jury was willing to convict this guy shows just how far we’ve fallen in terms of our civic understanding of our relationship to our government, and the role juries play as a check on government officials.