Judicial Reform

Judicial reform will strengthen the position of  Tennessee citizens.

Courts should fully inform jurors of their rights, insuring that laws are approved by ordinary (non-privileged) citizens.
Courts should create grand juries of the people with no special foreman, insuring that the critical work of grand Juries rests with ordinary (non-privileged) citizens.
Judges should be chosen from among all citizens, not just lawyers, allowing courts to be administered by ordinary (non-privileged) citizens.

Below is proposed legislation to realize these reforms:

Fully Informed Jury Act of 2013

Whereas The right of jury to judge the both the facts and the law is firmly established throughout America and within the Tennessee Constitution.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. The title of this act is and may be cited as the “Fully Informed Jury Act of 2013”.

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 22, is amended by adding Chapter 6 as a new, appropriately designated section;

Chapter 6. Duties of Court to Fully Inform Jurors

(A) In any jury trial, the Judge of the Court must inform jurors of their right to judge both law and facts in reaching a verdict by issuing the following statement:

“In Tennessee and throughout America, jurors possess the responsibility and fundamental right to judge the facts and the law in any court. Jurors are empowered to decide if a law is just, moral, and constitutional. Additionally, jurors are empowered to decide if that law has been violated. A verdict of ‘Guilty’ condemns the defendant, and a verdict of ’Not Guilty’ absolves the defendant of any wrongdoing. The juror’s conscience dictates the exercise of this power.”

(B) The Judge of the Court must inform jurors on three occasions

(1) when the jury pool is initially established, during the orientation phase

(2) when the trial begins

(3) when the jury is ready for deliberation

(C) No potential juror may be questioned about his willingness to judge the law or its application, or disqualified from serving on a jury because he voluntarily expresses willingness to judge the law or its application, or to vote according to conscience.

(D) It is a class B misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or six months imprisonment, or both, to question a potential juror about his willingness to judge the law or its application.  Upon second conviction of this offense, the convicted shall be ineligible to hold any executive office or position in this State or any political subdivision thereof.

(E) The Judge of the Court shall allow the jury to hear all discussions of the law during the trial, except for motions in limine and motions to suppress filed by the defense in criminal trials.

(F) The Judge of the Court shall not prevent any party to the trial from encouraging the jury to fully exercise their power.

(G) The Judge of the Court’s failure to inform the jury, or any other infraction of these rules of procedure, is a reversible error and grounds for a mistrial

(H) The Judge of the Court’s failure to comply with this Chapter is a class C misdemeanor upon first offense punishable by a fine only of not more than $50.  A second offense is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and is grounds for impeachment and removal of office.

(I) This chapter supersedes any conflicting judicial rules.

 

Grand Jury Act of 2013

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. The title of this act is and may be cited as the “Grand Jury Act of 2013”.

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 40 Section 12, is amended by adding Section 108 a new, appropriately designated section;

Section 108. Selection of Grand Jury

(A) Formation at a Regular Term. —The judge of the court authorized by law to charge the grand jury and to receive the report of that body shall, on the first day of each term of court at which a grand jury is required to be impaneled, direct the names of all the qualified jurors in attendance upon the criminal courts of the county to be written on separate slips of paper and placed in a box or other suitable receptacle and drawn out by the judge in open court. The thirteen qualified jurors whose names are first drawn shall be the grand jury for the term and shall attend the court until dismissed by the judge or until the next term.

(B) Appointment, Term, and Vote of Foreman. —The judge of the court authorized by law to charge the grand jury and to receive the report of that body shall appoint the foreperson of the grand juries in the counties of their respective jurisdictions from the thirteen randomly selected grand jurors. If concurrent grand juries are impaneled, a foreperson shall be appointed for each grand jury. The foreperson shall hold office and exercise powers for a term of two (2) years from appointment; however, in the discretion of the presiding judge, the foreperson may be removed, relieved, or excused from office for good cause at any time. The foreperson’s term is subject to all restrictions of Tennessee law regarding the service of jurors. The foreperson is a member of the grand jury and may vote with other grand jurors and this vote shall count toward the twelve necessary for the return of an indictment.

(C) This Section supersedes any conflicting judicial rules.

SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 40 Section 12, is amended by adding Section 109 a new, appropriately designated section;

Section 109. Authority of Grand Jury

(A) No person shall be obstructed or impeded from bringing a complaint directly to the grand jury, subject only to orderly scheduling. The grand jury may designate any person of its choosing to prosecute, who shall not be obstructed or impeded from prosecuting, subject only to orderly scheduling.

(B) This Section supersedes any conflicting judicial rules.

 

Judges Not Lawyers Act of 2013

AN ACT to repeal Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 17-1-106, relative to requiring judges to be lawyers.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. The title of this act is and may be cited as the “Judges Not Lawyers Act of 2013”.

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 106 is amended by deleting the entire section.