WHEREAS, September 5, 2007, will mark the 337th anniversary of the day when the jury, in the trial of William Penn, refused to convict him of violating England’s Conventicle Acts, despite clear evidence that he acted illegally by preaching a Quaker sermon to his congregation.
WHEREAS, by refusing to apply what they determined was an unjust law, the Penn jury not only served justice, but provided a basis for the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, religion, and peaceable assembly.
WHEREAS, September 5th, 2007, also commemorates the day when four of Penn’s jurors began nine weeks of incarceration for finding him not guilty. Their later release and exoneration established forever the English and American legal doctrine that it is the right and responsibility of the trial jury to decide on matters of law and fact.
WHEREAS, the Sixth and Seventh Amendments are included in the Bill of Rights to preserve the right to trial by jury, which in turn conveys upon the jury the responsibility to defend, with its verdict, all other individual rights enumerated or implied by the U.S. Constitution, including its Amendments.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Palin, Governor of the State of Alaska, do hereby proclaim September 5, 2007, as:
Jury Rights Day
in Alaska, in recognition of the integral role the jury, as an institution, plays in our legal system.
Dated: August 31, 2007
This was of course just one of many gubernatorial proclamations for September 2007, including Winter Weather Awareness Week (you'd think they didn't need it in Alaska, but maybe it's for newbies), Alpaca Farm Day, Family Day--A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children, We Don’t Serve Teens Week, and Responsible Dog Ownership Day. At the same time, it's a fair inference that the governor endorses the spirit behind those days, both the broadly uncontroversial ones and ones that might be more controversial. As best I can tell, Jury Rights Day is largely a project of the Fully Informed Jury Association, which generally supports informing jurors of their power to engage in jury nullification.
Thanks to Peter Colter for the pointer.