William Penn • 1670
The man on trial had "disturbed" the King's peace by holding a Quaker's worship service. The jury refused to give a "guilty" verdict four times, establishing jury nullification. The trial helped to establish the freedom of religion in America.
John Peter Zenger • 1735
This man critically printed the truth about the NY governor in his newspaper. Jury nullification of the law at that time helped to bring about the freedom of the press.
Samuel Chase • 1804
This Federalist Supreme Court Justice was impeached. His jury was the mostly Jeffersonian Senate and his prosecutor was the Jeffersonian John Randolph. The 2/3 vote needed to remove him, however, was not gained. The most important thing about this trial was to set the judiciary branch apart from the rest of the government.
President Andrew Johnson • 1868
The enemy of the Radical Republican Congress, this President had a hard time controlling what he said. He also violated the Tenure in Office Act. The House impeached him, but he was proclaimed innocent by the vote of Senator Edmund Ross.
William Marcy "Boss" Tweed • 1873
This fireman "climbed the ladder" to a high political position in NYC. He cost the city millions of dollars through phony bills and repairs. Finally, Samuel Tilden brought an indicment against him and defeated him.
Sacco and Vanzetti • 1921
These men were anarchists who were on trial for murder. The prosecution's evidence was weak, while it grilled the defendants about their beliefs (which the liberals protested). The judge allowed more of this type of questioning than he should have. The jury gave a "guilty" verdict, but the case was reexamined throughout the 20's because of international drama. The men were finally executed in 1927.
John Scopes • 1925
Whether or not evolution should be taught in Tennessee public schools was the question of this trial. William Jennings Byran was the defendant of the anti-human evolution law in the state. A great orator, he won the case, with Clarence Darow (the prosecutor's attorney) forcing his client to plead guilty.
Colonel William "Billy" Mitchell • 1925
This man was very interested in aircraft and advocated the use of it in the military. When a military airship's crash killed many people, his harsh criticism of the military and ensuing trial, which pronounced him guilty, caused him to quit the military altogether. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor after his death, similar to what he had predicted, everyone realized he had been right about the need for strong aviation in the military.
Alger Hiss • 1949
The defendant denied knowing the American communist Whittaker Chambers. Chambers claimed that this man had been giving him information from the State Department. The jury's vote was split, although more voted "guilty." At the retrial, the prosectution destroyed the defendant's weakened case. Even though Soviet files later showed he was likely a spy, he always claimed innocence.
Bill Clinton • 1999
This recent U.S. President was doing very well and was planning on making a lasting impression on American politics. However, he was put on trial for perjury (lying under oath). The Democratic Senators made sure that the entire case was not presented, though, so he was never convicted as guilty. However, his influence has not been what he wanted it to be, and to some extent it has been a bad taste in liberal's mouths.