Archive for the 'harvard' Category

Best Student Oral Argument Ever


Jason Harrow on behalf of Joel Tenenbaum before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Boston. April 4, 2011. Questioning by Chief Judge Sandra Lynch


parker on fried-liberty

assignment to my American Jury class

obtain and read…

“[A]s a great popular leader [Mussolini] has said to an applauding multitude, ‘We will trample upon the decomposing body of the Goddess of Liberty.” W.B. Yeats, Irish Independent, Aug. 4, 1924, quoted in R. F. FOSTER, 2 W. B. YEATS, A LIFE 265 (2003).

“[H]e [l’abbé de Mably] hated individual liberty as one hates a personal enemy.” Benjamin Constant, De la liberté des anciens comparée à celle des modernes.

For Benjamin Constant—sometimes called the inventor of liberalism, my kind of liberalism—“individual liberty is the first need of modern man.” He and his friend Madame de Staël had survived the communitarian utopia of Robespierre’s republic of terror only to be sent into exile by Napoleon’s empire of the grandiose. “By liberty I mean the triumph—not just independence, the triumph—of individuality, as much over authority which would govern by despotism, as over the masses that would subordinate the minority to the majority.” When he returned to serve the monarchy of Louis- Philippe and that king in gratitude and admiration paid off his many debts, Constant warned that this would not in the least prevent him from criticizing. It was said of him that he sold himself many times, but never delivered. It is from Constant that Isaiah Berlin, in his celebrated Two Concepts of Liberty, took the contrast between the liberty of the ancients and the liberty of the moderns. Constant did not think them at all equivalent. The liberty of the ancients, the liberty of a people to govern their own state subject to no other ruler, was often the best that men could hope for in a time when wealth was tied to land and the only escape was to exile, loneliness and misery (think of Socrates choosing the hemlock over exile from Athens), but Constant saw that this “liberty” often goes along with the total, the Spartan annihilation of the individual. “It makes the individual a slave so that the people might be free.” In modern times a man can flee across borders with money in his wallet (or an “Inverted Jenny” postage stamp worth a fortune or an account number and a password) to build a new life elsewhere. The liberty Constant valued was the liberty of a man to live his own life as he thought best. Then as now America—to which Constant as a young man thought of emigrating —is the closest thing to that ideal.
That is what I grew up to believe. My family and I were chased from Prague—that most prosperous, most commercial, most comfortable, bourgeois and civilized of cities—by a homicidal maniac who like Robespierre and Napoleon had a vision of the glory of a nation and a people but cared nothing at all about persons. Then with Hitler gone and my father on the point of taking us back to Czechoslovakia, that country was put in the pocket of another mass murderer with an even more lethal—because more plausible—nightmare vision, that of a universal equality, in which every man would belong to everyone and all men belong to the state.
It is of the liberty of persons not peoples, it is of the liberty of the moderns that (to borrow from the opening of the Aeneid) I sing.

The greatest enemy of liberty has always been some vision of the good. It might be the good of community engaged for the glory of a city, nation, race, or party. This is best captured in the image of tens of thousands of slaves broken by the labor of building the great Pyramids of Egypt, with a result that must have amazed, still amazes. True, as much as a reach for glory, these tombs may have been one of the more sensationally desperate attempts to overcome the fact of death—as sealed away with the preserved body of the Pharaoh were the rich accoutrements of his life. But then glory has always been an avenue on the quest for immortality. The Pharaohs may have built for their own glory and immortality, but always and everywhere many religions have been ready to sacrifice the liberty of those whose lives they touched—whether as adherents or not—to what they took to be the greater glory of their gods. Power, magnificence and beauty are among the glories on which men have freely spent their own energies and the unwilling energies of others. But a way of life—whether of great simplicity or of complex ritual observance—has also seemed a good so surpassing that others must be bent to its pursuit. Think of the rural idyll-nightmare which Pol Pot sought to impose on Cambodia, but also of the complex observances of the mediaeval Japanese court.

Those who impose on others are convinced that the good they are after is a good as much for their victims as for themselves and so they claim that there are no victims at all. But just as often there is no thought of the good of the oppressed: Hitler thought of the good and glory of the German race—supermen ruled by a superman—a vision to which the elimination or subjugation of inferior races was integral, a vision in which those races obviously were not asked to share. And indeed the question whose good is it—cui bono—in many instances misses the point of this way of thinking, for it is the good in the abstract that is the goal, not any particular person’s good. The religious manifestation is the clearest—the service of the gods is not the service of any man. But running through this history of subjection and enslavement is the claim of some to coerce the service of others, whether for a common good, the good of the oppressor, or some good that is an abstract from both and applicable to all.
In this catalogue of oppression the idea of equality plays a prominent, yet ambiguous, part. Liberty is so important that everyone should have as much of it as possible. But there is another way of taking equality. Equality is so important that liberty, and not only liberty but every other good thing, should be enjoyed only to the extent that it may be enjoyed equally. In this second way, equality is more like the other goods I have mentioned—national glory or the service of the gods: it is a good that overrides the good of particular persons in so far as the well-being of some are sacrificed to it, and even if the well-being of others is not enhanced. This demands leveling down—deliberately hurting some people, without helping others—if that is the only way to come closer to equality. This was Pol Pot’s project as he emptied the cities and killed or drove into the fields the educated and most prosperous townspeople: Equality as a Great Pyramid. The Great Pyramid view of equality subordinates the goods—the well-being of individuals—to that one great abstraction.

We may know what counts as the power of a nation: its wealth or its successful conquests. Those who seek the glory of their gods seem to know what makes for that glory. But what is liberty? Here is a first, very general idea.

Liberty Is Individuality Made Normative

Individuals come first. Whoever says otherwise is trading in metaphors. There are societies, nations, families, teams, but they are all made up of individual persons. Together persons create traditions, adhere to religions, make up communities, constitute the spirit of a time or place. Individuals inhabit traditions as they inhabit the societies and nations they constitute. They may be said to inhabit the language and culture to which they contribute and which contribute to their consciousness. But all these things—societies, nations, families, teams, traditions, religions, languages and cultures—are the products of individual persons. There would be no language if no one had ever spoken it, although it can be written down, recorded and in that sense take on a life of its own. So also a culture or a society (or corporation or football team) may be said to have a life of its own. Individuals move through these entities, and when they are gone the entities are still there—though changed in large or imperceptible degrees by the persons who have moved through them. But the individual is primary in the sense that only individuals have eyes, ears, mouths, hands and brains, and it is only by individuals making, saying, drawing, writing and other individuals seeing, hearing and understanding, that languages are spoken and remembered, that traditions are felt and passed on.
Everything that matters to a person, to persons in general, everything humanly of value is first of all experienced by individual persons. I now take the next step; and it is a large one. Everything that matters to persons, that is humanly significant is chosen by individual persons, is the responsibility of individual persons, one-by-one. Here as I use the word responsibility, it is I who may be accused of dealing in metaphors, but consider the sense in which a belief—a quite ordinary belief—may be said to be chosen by the one who believes it. The matter of belief, whether it be what a person directly perceives of the outside world or what others tell him, must somehow come to a man’s consciousness and there he must weigh it, decide whether to credit it, or whether to dismiss it as an illusion, a mistake, a falsehood. Overwhelmingly these judgments are snap: almost everything I see I accept as really there without giving it a second thought, but I do give it a first thought. Mostly if someone tells me a simple thing—“Take your umbrella, it is raining”—I do not pause to consider whether to accept that it is in fact raining. And yet I must take in what was said and make a snap judgment that the person who is talking to me is in earnest or joking, a normal observer or a madman. I may judge credulously, impetuously, foolishly or ignorantly, but these are all modes of belief and they are mine.
And so it is also with my judgments of what I should do, what is good or bad, right or wrong. However much my choices may be influenced by prejudice, emotion, fear of others, it is still I who must choose before I act. And the beliefs, choices and actions that make up the human world are those of individuals—discrete points of perception, thought, judgment and choice. They may coalesce in cultures, spirits of the time, but these are made up of individual perceptions, conclusions, choices, actions. And each individual experiences these as ineluctably his, whatever else they may be. In this sense he is responsible for all of them.
In addition to judgments and choices being mine, so also the pains and pleasures, the satisfactions and disappointments, the passions that give my life energy are also ineluctably mine. This has nothing to do with selfishness or altruism. Whether I take pleasure only in comfort and luxury or my happiness consists in the beauties of art and nature or in the thriving of my family, friends or of all humanity, still it is I who seek these goods and am elated or dejected by their attainment or failure. And again this is not at all to say that I choose the good of humanity or the production of great beauty because of the satisfaction they procure for me; I feel the satisfaction (or dejection) because these things are good in themselves. If by some magic I would have to choose between the satisfaction and the thing itself, it is the thing itself I would choose. So the lover seeks the good of his beloved not because of the pleasure he attains when the beloved is well, but for her sake. (Think of Rick on the runway in Casablanca as Ilsa and Laszlo make their escape.) And still all of these goods—high and low, selfish or generous—are sought by us because of what we judge them to be. They are our goods. Finally, this individualism should not be confused with solipsism. What I have been arguing does not at all commit me to the proposition that whatever an individual chooses or experiences as his good is therefore good after all. There may be—I believe there is—a fact of the matter about what is good or bad, right and wrong, worthwhile or degraded. The choosing individual may be profoundly mistaken, superficial, criminal, shallowly selfish; that he chooses as he does, does not determine the judgment on what he does. He is responsible for his beliefs, judgments, choices and actions. To argue that because they are his they cannot be good or bad is just a mistake; but it is a mistake that deprives a man of responsibility.
It is this rock-bottom, indigestible fact of each person’s lonely individuality, his ultimate responsibility for his own beliefs, judgments and choices that grounds our demand that we be free, that is the ground for our liberty. When others try to force me to do what I judge I do not want to do, or try to trick me into believing what I would not otherwise believe, they disrespect—they attack—my person at its deepest level. Because that is where the attack on our liberty comes, it follows that there is a difference between what others do to me and what they merely allow to happen to me when they will not help me or get out of my way. In doing to me, they do indeed take my person into account and make that part of their project. In refusing to help or get out of my way they may fail to acknowledge me as a judging, feeling, choosing individual, but in doing something to me they acknowledge that and use it for their own purposes. They (try to) deprive me of my liberty.
Liberty is individuality made normative. The person who disregards me—turns away or runs over me—ignores my individuality; he pays no mind to the fact that I have a distinct consciousness, plans, judgments. For example, the man who throws me out of a window onto his enemy in the street below in a sense uses me—but as an object, a dead weight, not as a thinking, responsible being. And he does not violate my liberty. It is the man who takes account of my individuality—my thinking, reasoning, judgment—and forces me to bend my will to his who violates my liberty. His plan depends on the fact that I have plans and he makes his plans part of my plans. I am the means to his ends; that is, I as an independent, responsible consciousness. A violation of liberty tears something: a man recognizes me, recognizes me as being a person like him, but then contradicts that recognition by using against me and for himself the very things that make him and me persons. It is this relationship between us that implicates liberty; liberty is fundamentally about relations between persons.
Now you may be thinking that as a thinking, feeling being I have plans of my own—selfish or generous—and these plans (what might be called for short my good, or my goods) are what I care about. And these plans may be frustrated as much by another’s running over me or passing me by as by his using me. More, there is scarcely anything I can accomplish without others: I would not have been conceived, born, reached maturity, learned language without others. If I had been ignored, I would have died. The success of my plans always depends on others. Yes, but as we acknowledge that, notice how it is we depend on each other. We depend on each other to deal with us—for us and against us—as thinking, choosing beings: as persons, as individuals (perhaps not in our conception and infancy, but soon after that). So all these good things implicate liberty because they depend on our eliciting, discouraging, modifying other people’s choices; they implicate how we treat each other as persons and not as inert objects to be ignored or obstacles to be got out of the way. The running over and passing by are secondary, secondary to our dealings with each other as persons. We run over or pass each other by on our way to something else, in pursuit of some plan, and that plan almost always will count on cooperating with or using others—their capacities to understand, value and choose.
Liberty is implicated when we take those capacities into account. Consider two opposite ways in which we take into account other persons and their distinct capacities as individuals: we can cooperate with them or we can coerce them. (I use the term coercion to cover threats, orders and not physical restraint—it is the difference between pointing a gun at a prisoner while ordering him to move and frog-marching him.) In cooperation we elicit choices by inviting the other to join in our choices, to make our choices his. Now I know that cooperation can be made to look like coercion—the offer you cannot refuse. Take an extreme and obvious example: the bank manager can be said to cooperate with the bank robber by opening the vault to save a hostage’s life. And a less obvious example: the landlord insists on a greatly increased rent to renew the lease of a successful restaurant that has over the years come to be identified with a particular neighborhood. And at the other extreme, Mozart and the librettist da Ponte working together to create The Marriage of Figaro, or the joining of lovers. In all of these examples—even the bank robbery— individuals make use of each other as persons, in all liberty is implicated, but only in the first example of the bank manager is it clear that liberty is violated. It will just exactly be my job in succeeding chapters to unravel when liberty is violated and when it is invoked. (A glance forward: we will see that a complete idea of liberty implies a notion of rights, and others can trespass on my rights inadvertently, heedlessly as well as willfully and viciously. I may, and the state should, protect my rights in both cases. But the trespasser conceives of me differently in the two cases, and the extent and kind of justified defense will differ too.)

Nancy Gertner

i want it known that i had nothing to do with bringing nancy gertner to her decision to retire from the bench and join harvard law school’s faculty

and that i&i warmly welcome her


“The answer isn’t always money,” Bush said. “There needs to be a compelling story.”…

Their reform comes down from the top and feels directed against teachers. Here is a compelling unfolding story coming up from the bottom to support teachers – in my email from Jamaica:

Shalette East of GoGSAT to Charles
6:55 AM (53 minutes ago)

I think this is a nice way to present the collaboration to the public and invite sponsors to come on board, what do you think?

The Berkman Center at Harvard, S.E.T and GoGSAT Team up to Provide Free GSAT Website and online resources to Jamaican Students and Teachers

Jamaican students in grades 4-6 can now prepare for their Grade Four Literacy Test (GFLT) and Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) free of cost courtesy of a partnership among Harvard, S.E.T and GoGSAT and numerous local and international partners. This collaboration sees the bronze version of GoGSAT which is priced at $3,000 per year being open to students and teachers at no cost to them.

The bronze version of GoGSAT comes with the following features: 24/7 access to: pop quizzes (1000s of interactive practice questions), interactive study guides in Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Science, interactive study notes, pre-tests, downloadable PDF Communication Task forms, printable handouts and worksheets, timetables, a comprehensive FAQ, PDF training manual, integrated technical support, eBulletin board, real time eNotebook, real time grade book and the first in the region Macmillan integrated dictionary. In addition Harvard students will serve as mentors to the users in the system’s chat room. The Bronze system also features online resources such as printable handouts, tests and worksheets for teachers. Like students, teachers also register online for free. However, they need to contact GoGSAT to have their accounts upgraded to a teacher’s account to enable them to access the teacher’s portal.

Furthermore students will be able to utilize the award winning USAID/JCF/MOE/SDC/CDA Community Safety and Security Courseware. This will allow students to learn about safety and security, leave questions on their personalized help desk for the police and chat with Police Officers in real time. To date over 5000 students and teachers are registered on GoGSAT bronze.

GoGSAT has been providing GSAT preparation to Jamaican students for five years at three service levels (Bronze, Silver and Premium). To date, the company has won four national awards and has seen over 50 of its subscribers earning national scholarships. To register for GoGSAT bronze, simply visit, click register now and complete the online form. A user name and password will be generated and emailed to you. If you would like to partner as a sponsor please contact Kevin Wallen of S.E.T at telephone number. Sponsorship starts at J$15,000 (US$200) per year (5 students). Sponsors will also be listed on the GoGSAT sponsorship page.

Shalette has already signed up over 5000 Jamaican students for free GoGSAT Bronze

Kevin Wallen and Michelle Robinson are leading a pilot program at Mountain View Primary, joining our effort at Ascot High. This video documents our early connection with Michelle when she was a teacher. She is now principal of the school.

we are students expressing truth interested in exploring ways for teachers to use tests without falling prey to them in a pilot program working with Jamaica: Our Island Nation

smile jamaica


design opportunity

not extraordinarily complex compared to cataloging the stars

As Darnton scopes it out, our new library of Alexandria would be built incrementally upon a registry the would serve
:• digital files of books in the public domain, about two million works;
:• noncopyrighted material digitized from the special collections of libraries and museums;
:• collections already aggregated from networks of databases such as the National Digital Newspaper Program, Digital Collections and Content, Opening History, the National Science Digital Library, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library;
:• holdings of HathiTrust, the Internet Archive, and PublicResource.Org;
:• books covered by copyright but out of print. Permission would have to be secured from the copyright owners, but many authors of books that had long ago ceased to sell would be delighted to have their works revived in digital form;
• orphan works, assuming congress passes legislation;
• publishers backlists and frontlists, if terms are attractive enough,

Add music


nov 18 – building it

filed my brief, felt good about what i said and how i said it, cold water from jason worried about offending, disappointment from phil that he hadn’t had his chance at it, nothing back from anyone else; suppose i’m just wrong, the merits don’t count because they are not being presented right, that can’t be, or can it; is the fact that my style is not that of a law firm a strike against me?

just felt power from the dealer’s position, pushed in with a bet six times larger than the limpers, poker a betting game depending a lot on position, looking either for a good hand or good position with what you see as weakness already shown in front of you where they see strength from you and even if they think you are bluffing have nothing to bluff you out with but a bluff of their own, which you’d best watch for, and watch for the guy doing the position play to be vulnerable to it. i wish i had full feel for it, for the variation of how the cards play into the betting game as the tournament moves along, the sit and go table a training marvel. see and feel the basic move from dealer’s position when the action is limped around to you

you don’t exist in cyberspace if you don’t exist on the net. if you do exist in cyberspace you be. be. budha says be. i & i be by blogging thought in action in thinking and doing

ok, so edit today’s email thread. i follow the link to darnton.

Can We Create a National Digital Library?

fight my way through a poll but because it’s the new york review of books i don’t mind

he begins with a questionable statement:
“Simple as it sounds, the question is extraordinarily complex.”

more to say


my edit of what lessig has to say


design and build a digital registry of copyright and public domain

embedded in larger design of the digital library of knowledge

howard responds, and i to him

Dear Charlie:

Here’s my response.



Dear Charlie:

First of all, given the facts as they have come out both before and as reported in the various media during the trial (I obviously haven’t seen the transcript), I still tend to doubt that this was a particularly winnable case.

so stop right there. you mean winnable at trial.

BTW, in 2004 we “won” this battle in Canada before it ever really started by preventing the disclosure of the names behind IP addresses in the Canadian version of the RIAA’s attempt to sue individuals. And we have a similar statutory minimum damages regime here, inspired by the USA but with some differences such as a max of CDN $20,000 per work. Still quite dangerous. The Canadian record companies were unable or unwilling to provide sufficient admissible evidence to warrant this disclosure in light of the “risk that the information as to identity may be inaccurate”, the resulting exposure to serious civil liability and the invasion of privacy. We were helped by a pretty good federal privacy statute in Canada and at least two ISPs that seriously stood up for their customers at the time (Shaw and Telus). See here and here. I was involved on the winning side. It’s really too bad that these cases weren’t likewise stopped at the outset in the USA, but that battle appears to have been lost a long time ago in other cases.

and never fought, a tragedy in leadership for harvard to stand idly by, unwilling to put its weight behind motion to stop their subpoenas

There’s really not much I can add to my original blog post from August 3, following the July 31 verdict and my other posts on this.

I can point to Ray Beckerman’s “wish list”, which outlines several possible technical and practical arguments based upon such matters as dates of registration, lack of proof of actual “distribution” according to the language of and case law on § 106(3), etc. which might or might not have worked to get Joel off the hook. Ray also mentions our Canadian case in his point that “Plaintiffs should be required to prove that the downloaded song file copies were played and listened to, and their contents verified, by a person qualified to make such determination. See Deposition of President of MediaSentry in BMG v. Doe.”

all respect to ray, these defenses do not join the fundamental issues. this trial was not an exercise in getting joel off the hook.

I don’t know which of these issues were addressed at trial or how much evidence on these issues there is on the record.

Apart from a victory based on issues such as those on Ray’s “wish list”, the only other conceivably “winnable” issues might have been a very uphill fair use argument and a potentially more successful argument on the unconstitutionality of the statutory minimum damages provisions. I know you have tried to pursue both of these issues.
these are the issues, not whether joel “did it”

• Fair Use. If there was a winnable argument here, which far greater experts than me have doubted according to your own blog,

stop right there. starting from scratch the fair use issue now looms as a fundamental question in the allocation of function between judge and jury as providing a limitation in wisdom to the expansive power of copyright, so let them doubt, then consider, then be convinced

it would probably have involved a lot of analysis of the fourth factor (“the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”) and this would presumably have required a lot of economic evidence. This evidence might have come, for starters, from your Harvard colleague Oberholzer-Gee and/or Andersen/Frenz in the UK as expert(s) to show that there was evidence as to no overall harm and maybe even a “benign” or “positive” effect on “the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”. At least such evidence might have enabled Judge Gertner to deny summary judgment on this issue. It would have also enabled a great debate with the very able Stan Liebowitz, with whom one may disagree – but he is still a very accomplished and important economist in the IP area and an experienced expert witness.

as far as i can see leibowitz and oberholzer-gee essentially agree, stan putting his value judgment on “professionally” recorded music and felix on the growth in volume and quality of music from the people. but see how this very question mistakes the nature of the inquiry as a judgment for the jury to make case by case, this being joel’s case and joel’s right to trial by jury in which the fairness and justice of the actions being taken against him in the name of the state are open to address

Maybe other evidence in addition from someone with knowledge about the economic insides of the record industry would have helped. I frankly doubt, as you have suggested in the Canadian media in your interview with Jesse Brown, that the lack of “fairness” on the part of the record industry either in the way it has marketed music to its customers or treats is customers in its litigation campaign is a winnable fair use argument under §107, even if you are right that the four factors are not “exclusive” and that Court can go beyond the four factors and even devise a new “fair use” affirmative defense. Whether or not there is the makings of a potential “abuse of process” or Posnerian “misuse” of copyright argument or something along these lines is hypothetically an interesting issue to speculate upon for another day, but doesn’t seem to be on the record here and would also presumably require a lot of solid evidence.

say more about Posnerian “misuse” of copyright. and note how the whole bogus strategy of imposing statutory damages on noncommercial direct infringers was put across on posner’s aimster dicta raised to holding by easterbrook in a case managed by jenner & bloch in which no challenge to the imposition of statutory damages was made

• Unconstitutional statutory minimum damages. This seems potentially much more winnable than fair use. But if there is a winnable argument here, it would probably also require lots of evidence to show that a statute that permits an award of up to $150,000 per work in these circumstances and $22,500 per work times 30 works as actually awarded for downloading and supposedly sharing 30 songs that sell for about $0.99 each retail goes so far beyond any possibly valid “deterrent” or “punitive” purpose that it is, on its face, unconstitutional.


Unfortunately, the SCOTUS may not see this as self evident. Again, maybe Oberholzer-Gee or Andersen/Frenz could have helped here, and perhaps other experts on the economics of the music industry, how file sharing actually works, how many of the ocean of unauthorized downloads can be causally attributed to Joel, and the overall question of proportionality. Maybe some expert sociological or criminological evidence on “deterrence”. But given the post-Eldred approach to deference to Congress on quantifiable copyright policy matters such as extending the term from life + 50 to life + 70, I would imagine that you would now need a great deal of solid evidence to show that this choice of a numerical range of a minimum of $750 and up to $150,000 per work for willful infringement is not only beyond “arguably unwise” but also somehow clearly unconstitutional. For better or worse, “unwise” and “unfair” may not equate with “unconstitutional.”

there are two questions: first, when, if ever (and i say never) did congress decide that draconian damages against consumers was the appropriate response to peer-to-peer file sharing? second, reached only if the answer to the first requires it, would be whether the power to impose this damage at the unconstrained behest of the copyright industry by civil process (thereby bypassing the protections afforded criminal defenants) with no proof of actual damage caused by the defendant, purely for deterrence of conduct involving no trespass is unconstitutional.

BTW, there is an important article in the works by Pam Samuelson and Tara Wheatland, which I’m sure you know about, but for the benefit of other readers can found here as a work in progress (recently revised).

[more to come]

Best regards,


Re-Empowering Juries


CHARLES NESSON: I start from a presumption of liberty. Think of the founders of our nation. They assembled as people who had the liberty to create a government. They knew that historically all governments reflect their own self-interest and come over time to limit, if not destroy the collective power of the people. They believed that a government built of checks and balances would ensure protection of their (and our) liberty into the future.

One method for doing this was to provide that the government must present its case for taking away a citizen’s liberty to a jury of peers, and that the jury must unanimously agree to a general verdict of guilt as warrant for the State to take his liberty. The jury will endure as a bulwark so long as it decides the whole case — the law and the fact. When all other balances fail, the jury will remain as the last protection of liberty.

In a criminal prosecution the legislature must first pass a statute that defines a crime. The executive must then choose to enforce the statute by formally charging and proving a statutory violation. Finally the judiciary must oversee the trial of the charge to make sure the statute is constitutional and the process of proof completely legal. Thus the state”s claim to take the liberty of a citizen is presented to a jury of the people. WE the PEOPLE. The jury is us, so that our values of liberty and justice will be preserved into the future against the state.

I want to make a doctrinal point exposing the flaw in the legal argument used by the judiciary to take away the jury’s power to decide “the whole case, the law and the fact,” thereby reducing the jury’s role to that merely of factfinder. “Law” used in describing the jury’s role means justice in the sense of connection with the conscience of community. The judges who created the current doctrine of jury nullification read “law” to mean the formal law created by the State, e.g., legislation, common law, judicial precedent. In claiming for themselves in a dichotomy between judge and jury of “law” and “fact” the prerogative of authoritatively articulating such matters of legality they left the jury only with “fact” and took the jury’s justice function away.

The judges did this in the 19th century in dispute as to whether lawyers could continue the established practice of arguing unconstitutionality of statutes to the jury despite the trial judge’s ruling that the statute was constitutional. Judges decided that lawyers may not re-argue their legal rulings to the jury because it is the judge’s business, not the jury’s, to decide matters of law. But in every case, the ruling was based upon the judges power to decide constitutionality and other legal matters. It resolved the question insofar as it applied to constitutional matters, statutory interpretations and evidentiary rulings — matters of legality. But it did not address, nor did it justify, the claim that juries had no business deciding “law” in the more fundamental sense.

Even after the “legalities” have been articulated by the judge to the jury, the jury hears and must accept the interpretation of the law of the state that the judge puts upon it, the jury nonetheless retains the essential independent function and responsibility of deciding whether to apply the state’s law to the defendant before them. That is the jury’s constitutional function. That is its protective check and balance versus the state’s power to deprove a citizen of liberty. To take this funtion away diminishes, even obviates, the jury’s function as the last bulwark of liberty.

All right, that’s my ten minutes. I’d be delighted with any and all comments.
















i want to thank everybody for coming here today and especially the people who were here from the beginning

eric wiseman
tom smuts
dave marglin
jon zittrain
john perry barlow
larry lessig
alex and wendy
myles berkman
fern and eric saltzman

we are here to talk about the future of the net.

my vision of the future of the net is the same as the vision i enunciated ten years ago.

cyberspace is an integrated media realm of stories told and shared by digitally connected and enabled hearts and minds.
WE are the Future of the Internet. We have good stories to live and to tell.
let us make our stories represent our values of
open code
open access
open talk
open education
let’s bridge the digital divide
let’s build the commons of the net