Brief filed: 12/19/2018
United States v. Manzano
2nd Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 18-3430
Petition for writ of mandamus or writ of prohibition to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
The independence of citizen juries is a well-established and crucial feature of our legal and constitutional history. The District Court’s openness to permitting evidence and argument as to the consequences of a conviction is a reasonable exercise of the Court’s discretion, not subject to control by mandamus. The District Court’s provisional decisions thoughtfully harmonize different threads of modern case law, respecting the jury’s traditional authority to issue conscientious acquittals while still operating within the strictures of precedent. Permitting a jury to hear evidence about the consequences of conviction is especially reasonable in a case with a severe and surprising mandatory minimum. Protecting jury independence is all the more important given the vanishingly small role that jury trials play in our criminal justice system.
Clark M. Neily III and Jay R. Schweikert, Cato Institute, Washington, DC; Joel B. Rudin, NACDL, New York, NY