Jury Nullification Analysis

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Jury nullification is defined as the occurrence whereby a juror purposefully acquits a defendant who it believes is guilty of the crime with which he or she is charged. In Paul Butler’s article, Racially Based Jury Nullification: Black Power in the Criminal Justice System, he describes the significance of race in a juror’s verdict. This paper will provide a brief summary of the article as well as an analysis. The analysis examines the plausibility of his claims, justifies why I do not agree with the author’s position, and raises critiques to his arguments.

Paul Butler is an African-American man who worked as a federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia in 1990, prosecuting those being tried for misdemeanor crimes.
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When arguing that African-Americans have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws, he refers to the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 1960s in which Martin Luther King suggested that “morality requires that unjust laws not be obeyed”. He also asserts that the justice system uses punishment instead of other means to treat social problems that have arisen due to racism. This is convincing because it is also true in cases involving Aboriginals in Canada. Aboriginal incarceration rates are significantly higher than for the non-aboriginal population – something referred to as overrepresentation. They have higher crime rates because of economic and social disadvantages and a history of systemic discrimination, violence and…show more content…
Arguing for the case that the race of a defendant should be a legally and morally appropriate factor in practicing nullification, Butler supports his argument by responding to the critiques that jury nullification betrays democracy, that rule of law doesn’t benefit African-Americans, that they have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws, and that jury nullification is antidemocratic. Hopefully this article will lead to change in the justice system with regards to the issues of race and jury
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