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Monday, December 19, 2005

Jury nullification

Jury nullification is the little-known right that juries have to vote according to their conscience. This right is valid in the UK, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand. It allows jurors to vote against the law if they consider the law unfair or whatever.

Interestingly, jurors are not advised of this right. And if any juror advises of their knowledge of this right, they are removed from the jury. Anyone who advises jurors of this right within a court can be arrested for 'jury tampering'.

I found out about it this morning, after having a discussion with Deidre about it. She didn't believe me, so I had to find the evidence.

Posted on 12/19/2005 01:41:00 PM Backlinks

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Blogger Chancelucky said...

I wouldn't call jury nullification a recognized right in the United States. It's more of a theory, but yes some juries (often in medical marijauna cases) have chosen to disregard the judge's jury instructions.

12/19/2005 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger NightFallTech said...

I find myself slightly torn on this issue, on the one hand it makes sense and I fully believe that jurors should have the right to decide against bad law and in practise that right is inalienable because jurors are human beings who will, in many cases, break the rules rather than go against their own best judgement (at least i would hope so). On the other hand this has the ring of 'conspiracy theory' about it that raises questions as to the direct motivation behind the article you link to (From the closing paragraphs it would appear that the authors agenda may well be decriminalisation of personal drug use).

12/20/2005 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

Chance: it's a responsibility, rather than a right, and it's certainly not promoted by the legal system. And you can probably understand why. These elitists certainly wouldn't want the law put back into the hands of the people, would they? Hell no, that'd just lead into the nightmare world where the people have control over the government and the legal system, and we certainly can't have that, can we.

NightFall: since it's a fact that jurors can vote according to their conscience, as allowed by the law, and it's a fact that the legal system doesn't promote knowledge of this, then it's a fact that, while there might not actually be a 'conspiracy', there certainly is a desire by those in power to keep people in the dark about their rights and responsibilities. It advantages the legal elitists by having their power unchallenged.

If jurors start voting according to their conscience, as there purpose originally was intended, then the conscience of the people would start to influence the laws of society.

It would mean that the people are in control of their society, and as mentioned above, that just can't be allowed to happen.

12/20/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

What would you think if a jury convicted someone, simply because they didn't like the defendant?

12/20/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

Since the reason for a jury's verdict is never actually known, nor is it required, we'll never know how many people are convicted simply because the jury didn't like them. But I doubt that would ever be the case. Since juries are usually ignorant of their full rights, they'd find people guilty or not guilty due to the evidence. However, for juries that know their rights, I still doubt that finding a person guilty due to not liking them would happen, because it has to be a unanimous decision. But hey, stranger things have happened in the past, and are likely to happen again.

But we still wouldn't know. :-)

12/20/2005 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

I'd disagree with that. With DNA testing, they're finding a surprising number of death row inmates provably innocent. In many of those cases, the jury ignored other exculpatory evidence. In other words, there probably have been Juries engaged in Jury affirmation where they simply ignored the law and the evidence because they didn't like someone or agreed with the prosecutor's portrait of the defendant as a bad person.

lynchings were also examples of "people's justice.

I'm not necessarily against the notion of jury nullification, but I'm just suggesting that it has its dangers.

12/20/2005 02:44:00 PM  

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