The Trial of John Peter Zenger

The Trial of  John Peter Zenger
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  • New York Weekly Journal
  • Paper Burned 
  • Accused 
  • Zenger had been charged and arrested for printing statements in the New York Journal that were critical of colonial Governor William Cosby's rule. Yet, his defense lawyer argued that Zenger was not guilty but the statements against Cosby's were true.  
  • Hamilton's Defense
  • The New York Weekly Journal was burned in the hands of a hangman on a Wednesday morning. The Journal had rules in it created by Zenger. In the journal, it consisted many things in the governments contempt, peace, and upon considerable people in the Province. The major and magistrates of the city attended the burning of the several papers in the journal. 
  • Jury's Decision 
  • Zenger had admitted to printing the statements. So, the jury had come to a verdict and announced Zenger "guilty." However, Zenger's defense lawyer had asked the jury if they knew that it was true of him being guilty. Zenger's lawyer had said that he had published the bad statements, but he had argued that they were true, they should not be counted libelous. 
  • Life with the 1st Amendment
  • Andrew Hamilton had disagreed with their decision of Zenger being guilty.  Hamilton disagrees because he thinks that anyone can have the freedom to do anything but they have to control it. Hamilton says that Zenger made a mistake and won't do it again.  
  • The jury decided to just ignore the judge’s instructions and returned a verdict of “not guilty.” The jury established the truth as a defense against New York. They say that the Zenger trial wasn't just a freedom landmark, it was also a jury's decision to make by all laws. 
  • In the First Amendment, fewer people were being accused of libel, and those that were, were more than likely to win. Another is that people should not be allowed to criticize the government. The First Amendment is about having the freedom of speech, or press, and to have the right for people to be peaceful. 
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