Examples Of Jury Nullification

457 Words2 Pages
Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty" despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged, according to Doug Linder. The jury will nullify a law because it believes that it wrongly applies to the particular defendant. Is this right or wrong? Should a jury have the right to override the law?
Juries have the power to nullify a law, but do they have the right to? In the 20th century all white juries acquitted white defendants who were blamed for killing or harming blacks. Some say this was an example of nullification not selection. During prohibition, they often nullified alcohol control laws because of disagreement with the justice the law had. American juries draw the power to nullify from its right to render a general verdict in criminal cases. This would be the inability of criminal courts to direct a verdict no matter how compelling the evidence,
…show more content…
Many jury instructions on the issue of the burden of proof invite nullification arguments. According to these instructions juries must find the defendant not guilty if the case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely the jury should find the defendant guilty if the case has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The permissive language "should" arguably allows juries to consider nullification arguments. It is also possible to receive a specific jury instruction on nullification, though most judges simply avoid the topic and do not tell jurors of their power to judge the fairness of the law and how it is applied as well as to judge the facts of a case. Judges do not like to inform jurors of their power to nullify (Linder, 2015), because they believe that the number of hung juries will increase. Jurors are, only, told what they need to know to decide innocence or guilt. Is it right to withhold their right to
Open Document