Haven’t heard of jury nullification? Don’t feel bad; you’re far from alone. If anything, your unfamiliarity is by design. Generally, defense lawyers are not allowed to even mention jury nullification as a possibility during a trial because judges prefer juries to follow the general protocols rather than delivering independent verdicts.
Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has routinely agreed that judges have no obligation to inform juries about jury nullification. Paradoxically, jury nullification is permitted to exist as an option to all juries, yet this option cannot be discussed in most courtrooms.
One might ask what is jury nullification? According to The Fully Informed Jury Association here is the answer
In its strictest sense, jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a Not Guilty verdict even though jurors believe the defendant has broken the law. Because the Not Guilty verdict cannot be overturned, and because the jurors cannot be punished for their verdict, the law is said to be nullified in that particular case.
In what can be said to be a milder form of jury nullification, some of the jurors, or even just one in most cases, can hang the jury by maintaining a Not Guilty verdict even though they believe the defendant broke the law. There is no requirement that jurors must come to a unanimous verdict. If the jury cannot unanimously agree on a verdict of either Guilty or Not Guilty, this is known as a hung jury. When further deliberation clearly will be unproductive, the judge will declare a mistrial. The prosecution may or may not retry the case in the future, but the law has at least been nullified in the trial at hand.
Another very good article about: What is Jury Nullification and Why is it Important?
The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Captain Six, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. It was originally published at the website Station.6.Underground under the title “What is Jury Nullification.”
What is Jury Nullification?
What is Jury Nullification? You won’t find it defined in your dictionary or described in your encyclopedia. You weren’t taught about it in school, and indeed it is even considered a crime to tell other people about it in some circumstances. Imagine that for a moment – it is a crime to inform a citizen as to their right, even the scope of their duty while serving on a jury.
Jury nullification is a constitutional doctrine which allows juries to acquit criminal defendants who are technically guilty, but who do not deserve punishment. It occurs in a trial when a jury reaches a verdict contrary to the judge’s instructions as to the law.
A jury verdict contrary to the letter of the law pertains only to the particular case before it. If a pattern of acquittals develops, however, in response to repeated attempts to prosecute a statutory offence, this can have the de facto effect of invalidating the statute. A pattern of jury nullification may indicate public opposition to an unwanted legislative enactment…
Most Americans have never even heard of such a doctrine. Thanks to numerous TV shows and real-life judges telling us that the only function of the jury is to render a decision based strictly upon the facts of the case, a key tenet of the justice system envisioned by the Founding Fathers has been lost. You see, it is not only the job of the jury to weigh guilt or innocence against the letter of the law, but also to judge the just nature of the statutes themselves. In this way, The People ultimately retain power over the government, rather than the government dictating to The People what is and what is not justice. This tenet is instrumental in protecting ourselves, as The People, from tyrannical laws and cronyism. This is why we have a jury system in the first place, not simply to act as a cog in the wheel of the justice system, but to be the justice in the system.
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