Jury Nullification Discussion

Jury Nullification Discussion

This is a discussion on Jury Nullification Discussion within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; I am starting a new thread to discuss jury nullification. Previous posts on this topic were included in http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...concealed.html but I created a new thread ...

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Thread: Jury Nullification Discussion

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array BlackPR's Avatar
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    Jury Nullification Discussion

    I am starting a new thread to discuss jury nullification. Previous posts on this topic were included in http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...concealed.html but I created a new thread since it was obviously worthy of discussion, but also obviously off topic.

    JerryM said:
    I may have missed it, but does anyone here know of a fairly recently? I realize that one could "be convinced that the prosecutor did not prove his case."

    I continue to think that if it were learned that a juror used JN he would be found in contempt of court as a minimum.

    Who will be a test case? Not me. If I have sworn to find in accordance with the law, I will honor that oath. My integrity is more important to me than even guns.
    It really does happen all the time. Recent high profile cases that come to mind are Oliver North and Bernard Goetz.

    Jurors MUST be held above prosecution for their verdict. Else they may feel pressured to decide one way or the other unfairly. To prosecute a juror would be to bias a jury necessarily towards the governments case.

    There have been countless thousands of test cases. And shouldn't integrity be towards *justice* and not being a part of tyranny? In nazi germany, did those who follow "the law" show integrity? Or were the laws unjust enough that men of integrity would have refused to enforce them?
    The facts are indisputable. There is more data supporting the benefits of Conceal Carry than there is supporting global warming. If you choose ignorance, in light of all the evidence, in order to bolster your irrational fear of guns, you are a greater threat to society than any gun owner.


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    VIP Member Array cdwolf's Avatar
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    Hmmm.. I'm just getting a good seat...Continue
    GUN CONTROL= I WANT TO BE THE ONE IN CONTROL OF THE GUN

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    JN is a great balancer for the justice system. It is also something if you ever want to get out of jury duty work something into the voir der(sp?). But a jury cannot be prosecuted for their verdit, no matter how crazy it might seem. Plus the judge still can help contain a jury to some degree.

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    Senior Member Array BlackPR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wareagleky View Post
    JN is a great balancer for the justice system. It is also something if you ever want to get out of jury duty work something into the voir der(sp?). But a jury cannot be prosecuted for their verdit, no matter how crazy it might seem. Plus the judge still can help contain a jury to some degree.
    Everyone forgets voir dire. Where Jury Nullification has the most power is when a law is so unpopular that it's impossible to seat a jury that agrees with it, no matter the size of the pool.
    The facts are indisputable. There is more data supporting the benefits of Conceal Carry than there is supporting global warming. If you choose ignorance, in light of all the evidence, in order to bolster your irrational fear of guns, you are a greater threat to society than any gun owner.

  5. #5
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    Some good information on the topic can be found here:

    Fully Informed Juries


    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your God like a soldier.

    Rudyard Kipling


    Terry

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    Here is a brief summary of it:
    What is jury nullification?

    Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty" despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate that are charged with deciding.

    When has jury nullification been practiced?

    The most famous nullification case is the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, charged with printing seditious libels of the Governor of the Colony of New York, William Cosby. Despite the fact that Zenger clearly printed the alleged libels, the only issue the court said the jury was open to decide as the truth or falsity of the statements was ruled to be irrelevant, the jury returned with a verdict of "Not Guilty."
    Jury nullification appeared at other times in our history when the government has tried to enforce morally repugnant or unpopular laws. In the early 1800s, nullification was practiced in cases brought under the Alien and Sedition Act. In the mid 1800s, northern juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of harboring slaves in violation of the Fugitive Slave Laws. And in the Prohibition Era of the 1930s, many juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of violating alcohol control laws.
    More recent examples of nullification might include acquittals of "mercy killers," including Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and minor drug offenders.

    Do juries have the right to nullify?

    Juries clearly have the power to nullify; whether they also have the right to nullify is another question. Once a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty," that verdict cannot be questioned by any court and the "double jeopardy" clause of the Constitution prohibits a retrial on the same charge.
    Early in our history, judges often informed jurors of their nullification right. For example, our first Chief Justice, John Jay, told jurors: "You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge [both the facts and law]." In 1805, one of the charges against Justice Samuel Chase in his impeachment trial was that he wrongly prevented an attorney from arguing to a jury that the law should not be followed.
    Judicial acceptance of nullification began to wane, however, in the late 1800s. In 1895, in United States v Sparf, the U. S. Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to uphold the conviction in a case in which the trial judge refused the defense attorney's request to let the jury know of their nullification power.
    Courts recently have been reluctant to encourage jury nullification, and in fact have taken several steps to prevent it. In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is given to them, whether they agree with the law or not. Only in a handful of states are jurors told that they have the power to judge both the facts and the law of the case. Most judges also will prohibit attorneys from using their closing arguments to directly appeal to jurors to nullify the law.
    Recently, several courts have indicated that judges also have the right, when it is brought to their attention by other jurors, to remove (prior to a verdict, of course) from juries any juror who makes clear his or her intention to vote to nullify the law.

    If jurors have the power to nullify, shouldn't they be told so?

    That's a good question. As it stands now, jurors must learn of their power to nullify from extra-legal sources such as televised legal dramas, novels, or articles about juries that they might have come across. Some juries will understand that they do have the power to nullify, while other juries may be misled by judges into thinking that they must apply the law exactly as it is given. Many commentators have suggested that it is unfair to have a defendant's fate depend upon whether he is lucky enough to have a jury that knows it has the power to nullify.
    Judges have worried that informing jurors of their power to nullify will lead to jury anarchy, with jurors following their own sympathies. They suggest that informing of the power to nullify will increase the number of hung juries. Some judges also have pointed out that jury nullification has had both positive and negative applications--the negative applications including some notorious cases in which all-white southern juries in the 1950s and 1960s refused to convict white supremacists for killing blacks or civil rights workers despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt. Finally, some judges have argued that informing jurors of their power to nullify places too much weight on their shoulders--that is easier on jurors to simply decide facts, not the complex issues that may be presented in decisions about the morality or appropriateness of laws.
    On the other hand, jury nullification provides an important mechanism for feedback. Jurors sometimes use nullification to send messages to prosecutors about misplaced enforcement priorities or what they see as harassing or abusive prosecutions. Jury nullification prevents our criminal justice system from becoming too rigid--it provides some play in the joints for justice, if jurors use their power wisely.
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    Or were the laws unjust enough that men of integrity would have refused to enforce them?
    There ya have it
    .
    Convicting someone for a law that is unjust shows lack of integrity.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Just the thought of Jury Nullification scare most lawyers and Judges to the point of being silly.

    they cant stand it...it takes the "power" out of their hands.

    Wanna get out of a jury? Just mention "jury nullification" and see how long you last...
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Ron
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Just the thought of Jury Nullification scare most lawyers and Judges to the point of being silly.

    they cant stand it...it takes the "power" out of their hands.

    Wanna get out of a jury? Just mention "jury nullification" and see how long you last...
    Not all lawyers are afraid of jury nullification. It depends upon the client and the type of case. For example, in "tax protest" cases lawyers will often want the jury to apply jury nullification, when the client has admittedly refused to pay income tax and the attorney is arguing that the direct tax on income is unlawful.

    Ron
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    Senior Member Array BlackPR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron View Post
    Not all lawyers are afraid of jury nullification. It depends upon the client and the type of case. For example, in "tax protest" cases lawyers will often want the jury to apply jury nullification, when the client has admittedly refused to pay income tax and the attorney is arguing that the direct tax on income is unlawful.

    Ron
    True, but if a lawyer informs the jury about Nullification, or even hints at it, it's stricken at the very least and a mistrial declared at the most. So they can't do anything except argue around the very fringes of nullification hoping that the jury "gets it".
    The facts are indisputable. There is more data supporting the benefits of Conceal Carry than there is supporting global warming. If you choose ignorance, in light of all the evidence, in order to bolster your irrational fear of guns, you are a greater threat to society than any gun owner.

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    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Actually, one good point, I think, about JN is this. A judge has the authority to set aside a jury conviction if he believes, despite the jury's verdict, that the prosecution failed to meet some appropriate evidentiary standard. That is, the judge (i.e., the law) can trump the jury.

    Therefore it seems a reasonable balance that, under suitable situations, a jury can trump the law.

    Both situations could obviously be subject to abuse, but I think on the whole it is a fair check and balance between the courts and people.
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

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    Interesting how a pool of laypersons can "overpower" trained legal "professionals." But, correct me if I'm wrong, a guilty verdict requires a unanimous decision so therefore, one single person can nullify the law (for that case)? Or does the not-guilty also require a unanimous decision, and anything else is a hung-jury, sparking a re-trial?
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    Senior Member Array BlackPR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupcake View Post
    Interesting how a pool of laypersons can "overpower" trained legal "professionals." But, correct me if I'm wrong, a guilty verdict requires a unanimous decision so therefore, one single person can nullify the law (for that case)? Or does the not-guilty also require a unanimous decision, and anything else is a hung-jury, sparking a re-trial?
    One person can nullify... but again, Voir Dire is designed to eliminate the fruitcakes. The idea is that if public sentiment is so against a law that a jury cannot be selected from a larger jury pool that will not nullify, then bummer for the law. It does allow a minority to be represented and is, in theory, to stop tyranny of the government and also tyranny of the majority.

    Last time I had jury duty it was a prostitution case. I was pre-emptively dismissed, but at least one other in the pool was dismissed because he disagreed with the law (dismissed for cause). If 40% of those in the pool had been against the law, it would've been impossible to seat a jury that wouldn't nullify *if they were aware* of their power to nullify.
    The facts are indisputable. There is more data supporting the benefits of Conceal Carry than there is supporting global warming. If you choose ignorance, in light of all the evidence, in order to bolster your irrational fear of guns, you are a greater threat to society than any gun owner.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array mulle46's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupcake View Post
    Interesting how a pool of laypersons can "overpower" trained legal "professionals." But, correct me if I'm wrong, a guilty verdict requires a unanimous decision so therefore, one single person can nullify the law (for that case)? Or does the not-guilty also require a unanimous decision, and anything else is a hung-jury, sparking a re-trial?
    Here in NJ, verdicts either way(guilty/not-guilty)require an unanimous vote. Anything else is a hung jury. Hung juries do not automatically equal a re-trial. Prosecutors have to decide whether the cost of the re-trial is worth it.
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    VIP Member Array JerryM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPR View Post
    I am starting a new thread to discuss jury nullification. Previous posts on this topic were included in http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...concealed.html but I created a new thread since it was obviously worthy of discussion, but also obviously off topic.

    JerryM said:


    It really does happen all the time. Recent high profile cases that come to mind are Oliver North and Bernard Goetz.

    Jurors MUST be held above prosecution for their verdict. Else they may feel pressured to decide one way or the other unfairly. To prosecute a juror would be to bias a jury necessarily towards the governments case.

    There have been countless thousands of test cases. And shouldn't integrity be towards *justice* and not being a part of tyranny? In nazi germany, did those who follow "the law" show integrity? Or were the laws unjust enough that men of integrity would have refused to enforce them?
    How can it be shown that JN was a factor in those cases? Did anyone say to that effect?
    Thanks,
    Jerry

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