April 30th, 2004


Jury Nullification

This is mainly for bellwethr, who i was having a discusion about jury duty with after media studio presentations, but anyone with an interest in weird legal stuff or civil rights might be interested.

Wikipedia's entry on Jury Nullification

"Jury nullification is a common term used to describe a jury's right to deliver a not-guilty verdict even where such a verdict clearly conflicts with the letter of the law."
"The use of the jury to act as a protection of last-resort was espoused by many of the Framers of the U.S. Constitution. As a result, the United States has a particularly strong legal tradition protecting the right of jury nullification. Though the right of a jury to nullify a verdict has been repeatedly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 1895 decision of Sparf vs U.S. held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of that right. This decision, often cited, has led to a common practice in which juries are instructed that they must find guilt or innocence according to the law."

What this means is that if you ever serve on a jury and you believe that the defendant is guilty but the law they broke is unjust you can declare them not-guilty anyway. They will tell you that you can't, but they're lying.