Jury Nullification - One Possible Response?

This is a discussion on Jury Nullification - One Possible Response? within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Like many of you I have been concerned about the deterioration of our Second Amendment rights since Newtown. In some respects I have felt basically ...

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Thread: Jury Nullification - One Possible Response?

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    Senior Member Array Caertaker's Avatar
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    Jury Nullification - One Possible Response?

    Like many of you I have been concerned about the deterioration of our Second Amendment rights since Newtown. In some respects I have felt basically powerless against a government that seems intent on enacting any laws it deems fit regardless of the Constitution. Today I was reminded of a little discussed facet of the law called jury nullification. Since I have not seen this element discussed here I thought I would throw it out to the community to see if there is any interest.

    "Jurors in a criminal trial have the responsibility of deciding whether an accused individual, or defendant, is guilty or not guilty of a charged crime. They must examine the evidence presented at trial to determine whether the law has been broken. The court gives instructions to the jurors that inform them of the law that must be applied in the case.

    Sometimes jurors may disagree with a particular law. Even if the evidence clearly shows that the defendant broke the law, they may find him not guilty of the charged crime. This is called jury nullification. The jury nullifies the law by ignoring it and letting the defendant go free
    ."

    Jury Nullification - When the Jury Ignores the Law - Lawyers.com
    "I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations” – James Madison 1788

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    VIP Member Array rottkeeper's Avatar
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    If they ignore the constitution with these unjust laws, maybe there will not be any trials. You may be sentenced without due process.
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    Re: Jury Nullification - One Possible Response?

    Quote Originally Posted by rottkeeper View Post
    If they ignore the constitution with these unjust laws, maybe there will not be any trials. You may be sentenced without due process.
    Or, better yet... Held indefinitely, as a domestic terrorist, with no due process?
    All that said....
    It could be worse.
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    Jury nullification, though rarely used, does exist. It will not be briefed to a jury as one of its options though, and mention of it by a juror may likely result in dismissal. Harder yet would be to get 12 jurors to agree with it.

    I'm sure those with more court experience will chime in.
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    Senior Member Array rednichols's Avatar
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    I do have courtroom experience, and a legal education. In a judge-only trial, the judge is the "finder of fact and finder of law". In a jury trial, the jury becomes the finder of fact and the judge remains the finder of law. Judges are not taken by surprise by the deliberations of a jury, so if the judge feels that the jury's potential verdict will go against the law, he can do one of three things: he will issue a "directed verdict" in which the jury is instructed what their verdict will be, based on the law; he can let the jury deliver its verdict and "set aside" their verdict as not applying the law correctly; or, unlikely, ignore the error, as has been alleged in the Simpson trial.

    Though what this has to do with thw 2nd Amendment . . . .

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    Most people don't know that a mag is not a clip, or that an AR15 is not an assault rifle.

    How the heck are they gonna know anything about jury nullification?

    If it ain't on primetime TV, they ain't gonna know anything about it.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

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    VIP Member Array 1MoreGoodGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
    I do have courtroom experience, and a legal education. In a judge-only trial, the judge is the "finder of fact and finder of law". In a jury trial, the jury becomes the finder of fact and the judge remains the finder of law. Judges are not taken by surprise by the deliberations of a jury, so if the judge feels that the jury's potential verdict will go against the law, he can do one of three things: he will issue a "directed verdict" in which the jury is instructed what their verdict will be, based on the law; he can let the jury deliver its verdict and "set aside" their verdict as not applying the law correctly; or, unlikely, ignore the error, as has been alleged in the Simpson trial.

    Though what this has to do with thw 2nd Amendment . . . .
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakchas View Post
    Or, better yet... Held indefinitely, as a domestic terrorist, with no due process?
    Or snuffed out by a drone.
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    Distinguished Member Array noway2's Avatar
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    If I were going to engage in jury nullification, I would be keeping my mouth shut about it and would simply refuse to convict and keep my story straight and simple. Something along the lines of how I just wasn't convinced by the evidence or testimony and can't in good conscience say guilty.
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    Senior Member Array RicT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
    I do have courtroom experience, and a legal education. In a judge-only trial, the judge is the "finder of fact and finder of law". In a jury trial, the jury becomes the finder of fact and the judge remains the finder of law. Judges are not taken by surprise by the deliberations of a jury, so if the judge feels that the jury's potential verdict will go against the law, he can do one of three things: he will issue a "directed verdict" in which the jury is instructed what their verdict will be, based on the law; he can let the jury deliver its verdict and "set aside" their verdict as not applying the law correctly; or, unlikely, ignore the error, as has been alleged in the Simpson trial.

    Though what this has to do with thw 2nd Amendment . . . .
    Wow! I had heard about jury nullification before, but I didn't know that the judge could tell the jury WHAT THEIR VERDICT WILL BE...I guess it would have the same outcome as setting the jury verdict aside (which I've also heard about), but there's something about the judge telling the jury what their verdict will be that just "torques my jaw"...
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    "If I were going to engage in jury nullification, I would be keeping my mouth shut about it and would simply refuse to convict and keep my story straight and simple."

    "Juror" nullification is not "jury" nullification. The difference is a hung jury vs an aquital. True jury nullification is the entire jury deciding the law is wrong, and though the defendant violated it, the jury votes "not guilty" and therefore prevents the defendant from being re-tried. One person holding out allows for the state to retry the defendant.

    And what would happen if the jury refused to comply with a "directed verdit"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacii View Post
    Most people don't know that a mag is not a clip, or that an AR15 is not an assault rifle.

    How the heck are they gonna know anything about jury nullification?

    If it ain't on primetime TV, they ain't gonna know anything about it.
    Yeah, I was wondering how things would play out if they wrote the law limiting clips rather than magazines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StevePVB View Post
    Yeah, I was wondering how things would play out if they wrote the law limiting clips rather than magazines.
    They got around that by calling it "ammunition feeding devices".
    “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” --George Washington

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    "Juror" nullification is not "jury" nullification. The difference is a hung jury vs an aquital. True jury nullification is the entire jury deciding the law is wrong, and though the defendant violated it, the jury votes "not guilty" and therefore prevents the defendant from being re-tried. One person holding out allows for the state to retry the defendant.

    And what would happen if the jury refused to comply with a "directed verdit"?
    Depending on how strong the prosecution's case is, a hung jury may be enough as they may not wish to bother with the expense and effort of a retrial. Of course, if I feel strongly enough, I might argue the case with a bent towards nullification. My main point was that I would certainly keep my mouth shut about any intent to do so, but I am certainly willing to engage in such practices, largely because I believe the system no longer represents the people.
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    Member Array Fallschirmjäger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
    I do have courtroom experience, and a legal education. In a judge-only trial, the judge is the "finder of fact and finder of law". In a jury trial, the jury becomes the finder of fact and the judge remains the finder of law. Judges are not taken by surprise by the deliberations of a jury, so if the judge feels that the jury's potential verdict will go against the law, he can do one of three things: he will issue a "directed verdict" in which the jury is instructed what their verdict will be, based on the law; he can let the jury deliver its verdict and "set aside" their verdict as not applying the law correctly; or, unlikely, ignore the error, as has been alleged in the Simpson trial.

    Though what this has to do with thw 2nd Amendment . . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by RicT View Post
    Wow! I had heard about jury nullification before, but I didn't know that the judge could tell the jury WHAT THEIR VERDICT WILL BE...I guess it would have the same outcome as setting the jury verdict aside (which I've also heard about), but there's something about the judge telling the jury what their verdict will be that just "torques my jaw"...
    I wonder if it would be appropriate here to point out that a "directed verdict" does NOT mean the presiding Judge issues instructions that, "All youse jurors is gonna find the defendant guilty, y'hear? Guilty!"

    "...A ruling by a judge, typically made after the plaintiff has presented all of its evidence but before the defendant puts on its case, that awards judgment to the defendant. A directed verdict is usually made because the judge concludes the plaintiff has failed to offer the minimum amount of evidence to prove the case even if there were no opposition. In other words, the judge is saying that, as a matter of law, no reasonable jury could decide in the plaintiff's favor. In a criminal case, a directed verdict is a judgment of acquittal for the defendant..."
    --- Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.

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