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Pre-trial Jury Nullification

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Posts

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law, nor is jury nullification part of precedent because common law is judicial. So, you've made up a right on the theory that anything you do is legal as long as you can't get caught and decided that a theoretical case of anything happening anywhere is a part of American common law.

    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    Pata wrote: »
    Sometimes the law is immoral and should be ignored.
    agentk13 wrote: »
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law,

    Except for, you know, British common law being the origin of American law.

    It is the inspiration of American common law, but it is not a continuation of it. That's why there are no American decisions using British cases as precedent.

    Except that there are.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law, nor is jury nullification part of precedent because common law is judicial. So, you've made up a right on the theory that anything you do is legal as long as you can't get caught and decided that a theoretical case of anything happening anywhere is a part of American common law.

    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    No they can't. Decisions have been thrown out because juries used outside information.

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    There are assertions here that are not factual.

    They can find facts. "We don't like this law" or "we don't like the victim" aren't facts and shouldn't be the basis for a ruling.

    sig.jpg
  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law, nor is jury nullification part of precedent because common law is judicial. So, you've made up a right on the theory that anything you do is legal as long as you can't get caught and decided that a theoretical case of anything happening anywhere is a part of American common law.

    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    No they can't. Decisions have been thrown out because juries used outside information.

    When I say "find facts" I don't mean that they play detective. I mean that it is their job to determine what the facts are. Which is absolutely their job.

  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Druk wrote: »
    Lets not start using an appeal to tradition when we're talking about law, thats a shitty road to take a shitty fallacy down.

    Well no one has posted any evidence contrary to the tradition, just opinions.

    I'm not sure that evidence is required to dispel a claim based in logical fallacy.

    And claiming centuries old law as precedent is silly, just as claiming its ok because its Common Law is. Common Law still needs to stand up to logic and reason.

    Firstly, it is not a logical fallacy. An appeal to tradition is one that takes the form of "we have always done X, therefore X is good (or should continue to be done)." My evidence is presentation of a secondary source from a scholarly journal that confirms that jury nullification has been a recognized power of juries in common law countries since 1670. The 'appeal' that you are alleging I am making is to a relevant case, Bushell, 1670. My assertion is neither that jury nullification is good or that it should continue to be done, but merely that it exists and is legitimate.

    Second, your assertion that "claiming centuries old law as precedent is silly" is straight up bullshit. It happens all the time in common law jurisdictions. That is the way that the common law works and is made, through precedent and reference to past decisions. Look, you can even read up about it on Wikipedia
    Common law, also known as case law or precedent, is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action. A "common law system" is a legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law,[1] on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different occasions.[2] The body of precedent is called "common law" and it binds future decisions.

    That's fine if you don't like the system of Common law. But if that's your criticism, you should make a new thread and have at it there. At this point, it's simply not relevant.

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  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    There are assertions here that are not factual.

    They can find facts. "We don't like this law" or "we don't like the victim" aren't facts and shouldn't be the basis for a ruling.

    Right, but the idea is they won't actually say "we don't like this law" or "we don't like this victim" in their verdict.

    They will say "we find the defendant did not commit x" or "we find the defendant did not do x" where x is an essential element of the crime.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law, nor is jury nullification part of precedent because common law is judicial. So, you've made up a right on the theory that anything you do is legal as long as you can't get caught and decided that a theoretical case of anything happening anywhere is a part of American common law.

    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    No they can't. Decisions have been thrown out because juries used outside information.

    When I say "find facts" I don't mean that they play detective. I mean that it is their job to determine what the facts are. Which is absolutely their job.

    And since when is "I need to stick it to the man" anything close to a fact. That's even less substantial than ruling based on whether they like the defendant's face.

    Actually, juries have the ability to rule based on any reason, as you've said. As you've also asserted that abilities and rights are the same thing and that juries should be informed that juries should be informed that they have the right to do whatever they want, should juries be made aware that they have the right to rule based on how attractive they find defendants?

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Your reliance on Common Law is somewhat circular.

    It doesn't make sense

    Its Common Law

    so let's change that system

    But Common Law

    but its wrong

    COMMON LAW

    maybe basing a modern judicial system on a 450 year old legal idea is wrong

    COOOOMMMMOOOOONNNN LAAAAAAAAAW

    sig.jpg
  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    saggio is right about this. The United States constitution says that all have a right to a jury trial, but if you want to know what a "jury trial" means, you need to look to principles of British common law, as those are the principles the writers of the constitution had in mind.

    edit: American Supreme Court justices, by the way, do cite English law fairly frequently. Common law is totally relevant to the American legal system.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law, nor is jury nullification part of precedent because common law is judicial. So, you've made up a right on the theory that anything you do is legal as long as you can't get caught and decided that a theoretical case of anything happening anywhere is a part of American common law.

    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    No they can't. Decisions have been thrown out because juries used outside information.

    When I say "find facts" I don't mean that they play detective. I mean that it is their job to determine what the facts are. Which is absolutely their job.

    And since when is "I need to stick it to the man" anything close to a fact. That's even less substantial than ruling based on whether they like the defendant's face.

    Actually, juries have the ability to rule based on any reason, as you've said. As you've also asserted that abilities and rights are the same thing and that juries should be informed that juries should be informed that they have the right to do whatever they want, should juries be made aware that they have the right to rule based on how attractive they find defendants?

    Did I assert that abilities and rights are the same thing? If I did, that was not my intention. I thought I said juries can rule however they want, not that they have the right to.

    I think my original point you quoted was, if you're going to have a right to trial by jury, there will always be a possibility of jury nullification as a jury can come to any conclusion they want.

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    It is certainly true that American law grows out of British common law. It is untrue that common law has never changed or that everything that was and is true in British common law is true of American common law.

    The Seventh Amendment argument is nuts. The right to a trial by jury means just that - that you have a right to trial by jury. Don't you think that the Framers were aware of all that hallowed British common law and could, if they wished, have explicitly stated that such a jury shall have the right to nullify unjust laws?

    A jury is also tasked with applying those facts to the law. A jury can certainly make a "finding of fact" that the defendant is African-American. Do you think that, therefore, it would be OK for a jury to convict a defendant in a murder case because of the "fact" that the defendant is black? I mean, that's the jury's job - to find facts, right?

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  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Your reliance on Common Law is somewhat circular.

    It doesn't make sense

    Its Common Law

    so let's change that system

    But Common Law

    but its wrong

    COMMON LAW

    maybe basing a modern judicial system on a 450 year old legal idea is wrong

    COOOOMMMMOOOOONNNN LAAAAAAAAAW

    Basically, if there's no statute directly on the issue, then you turn to common law.

    Anyway, the only reason to point to common law is demonstrate what the state of the law is or from where our notion of it derived. Whether jury nullification of a good thing (either in the present or in the past) is a separate issue.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    It is certainly true that American law grows out of British common law. It is untrue that common law has never changed or that everything that was and is true in British common law is true of American common law.

    The Seventh Amendment argument is nuts. The right to a trial by jury means just that - that you have a right to trial by jury. Don't you think that the Framers were aware of all that hallowed British common law and could, if they wished, have explicitly stated that such a jury shall have the right to nullify unjust laws?

    A jury is also tasked with applying those facts to the law. A jury can certainly make a "finding of fact" that the defendant is African-American. Do you think that, therefore, it would be OK for a jury to convict a defendant in a murder case because of the "fact" that the defendant is black? I mean, that's the jury's job - to find facts, right?

    And then there's the fact that the choices are "guilty" and "innocent."

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    The Seventh Amendment argument is nuts. The right to a trial by jury means just that - that you have a right to trial by jury. Don't you think that the Framers were aware of all that hallowed British common law and could, if they wished, have explicitly stated that such a jury shall have the right to nullify unjust laws?

    You have it totally fucking backwards. In 1787, jury nullification was a recognized power of the jury. If the writers of the constitution wanted to remove that power, they would have written it so. But they didn't. They did not change the traditional legal understanding of the jury's power in any way.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Not so. Our system is a common law system that is based upon the British common law system that existed before it. You don't have to like it, but that's what it is.

    In any case, the right to trial by jury is clearly in the Constitution. The possibility of jury nullification is implicit in trial by jury, as a jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case, and they can find any facts that they want.

    It is certainly true that American law grows out of British common law. It is untrue that common law has never changed or that everything that was and is true in British common law is true of American common law.

    The Seventh Amendment argument is nuts. The right to a trial by jury means just that - that you have a right to trial by jury. Don't you think that the Framers were aware of all that hallowed British common law and could, if they wished, have explicitly stated that such a jury shall have the right to nullify unjust laws?

    A jury is also tasked with applying those facts to the law. A jury can certainly make a "finding of fact" that the defendant is African-American. Do you think that, therefore, it would be OK for a jury to convict a defendant in a murder case because of the "fact" that the defendant is black? I mean, that's the jury's job - to find facts, right?

    My only point was that as long as the jury is the arbiter of facts, there is always a possibility of jury nullification. For example, the jury could find a defendant was not present when there are many witnesses who say otherwise.

  • DrukDruk Registered User
    edited December 2010
    How far up the chain of law should juries go? Should they not say "well state law says all citizens must be allowed to engage in [activity], but city law says otherwise" and judge that the city law is invalid, and thus doesn't apply?

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Druk wrote: »
    How far up the chain of law should juries go? Should they not say "well state law says all citizens must be allowed to engage in [activity], but city law says otherwise" and judge that the city law is invalid, and thus doesn't apply?

    Juries in criminal trials find either "guilty" or "not guilty." They can use whatever crazy moon logic they want to arrive at their findings.

  • dojangodojango Registered User
    edited December 2010
    Hachface wrote: »
    mythago wrote: »
    The Seventh Amendment argument is nuts. The right to a trial by jury means just that - that you have a right to trial by jury. Don't you think that the Framers were aware of all that hallowed British common law and could, if they wished, have explicitly stated that such a jury shall have the right to nullify unjust laws?

    You have it totally fucking backwards. In 1787, jury nullification was a recognized power of the jury. If the writers of the constitution wanted to remove that power, they would have written it so. But they didn't. They did not change the traditional legal understanding of the jury's power in any way.

    Jury nullification isn't a 'power' of the jury per se, it is just a consequence of using juries to decide criminal cases and then refusing to allow courts to review a jury's acquittal of a defendant.

    If it were a recognized power of the jury, a judge would have to say something to the jury to the effect of "and if you don't like the law, don't convict!" But they don't. Because jury nullification not a right that the jury has, it is something that they can do (much like you can lie to get out of jury duty or conceal your prejudices with the hopes of getting on a jury), but is disfavored for the very good reasons people have raised in this thread.

  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Your reliance on Common Law is somewhat circular.

    It doesn't make sense

    Its Common Law

    so let's change that system

    But Common Law

    but its wrong

    COMMON LAW

    maybe basing a modern judicial system on a 450 year old legal idea is wrong

    COOOOMMMMOOOOONNNN LAAAAAAAAAW

    You're a fucking idiot.

    As you would have realized if you exercised your basic literacy skills, you would note that I demonstrated that jury nullification isn't illegitimate or non-existent - contrary to what some have been arguing - but is rather perfectly lawful and a recognized power of juries since 1670.

    Your questions as to why juries have that power is basically what your caricature of me is: it's common law.

    Other questions, like ought we continue to use jury nullification? or should juries be instructed that they have the power of nullification? is something else entirely. I put forward my position in a previous post that you seem to have missed. It wasn't "COMMON LAW." I know how hard it can be to read things when they don't abide by your preposterous prejudices, but sometimes we all have to try.
    agentk13 wrote:
    British precedent has nothing to do with American law

    You are incorrect.
    mythago wrote:
    In other words, the (criminal) jury doesn't need to offer any after-the-fact justification for its decision, nor can jurors be punished for reaching the 'wrong' decision or deciding for the 'wrong' reasons, and therefore if the jurors decide to blow off the law, there's nothing anyone can do to stop them.

    This is not really the same thing as 'jury nullification is A-OK and always has been'.

    You should read my subsequent quotation.
    agentk13 wrote:
    People have been getting away with it for centuries. It has never been sanctioned. You're basically arguing that rape should be legal because it was easy to get away with before the introduction of DNA evidence.

    Yes, by citing sources to establish that jury nullification has existed in practice and been recognized as legitimate since 1670, I am in fact arguing that rape should be legal.

    What the fuck are you on?
    mythago wrote:
    "The truth", in this case, being that jurors can do whatever the hell they want without consequence. Hey, if you want to let that white-power guy off the hook because you thought that darkie had it coming? You, jurors, have the power to do so! Do you believe that women have gotten too uppity and perhaps a good healthy fear of rape will solve the problem? Then maybe you, dear jurors, should acquit my client of sexual assault!

    I mean, why be coy about it? Allow defense attorneys to flat-out make these arguments. After all, they are entirely true: the jury has the power to excuse crimes because they dislike the victim or adore the perpetrator. Why not say so and be done with it?

    A flippant answer:
    Yes, by citing sources to establish that jury nullification has existed in practice and been recognized as legitimate since 1670, I am in fact arguing that killing darkies should be legal.

    What the fuck are you on?

    A real answer: It should be the case that jurors make their decisions reasonably and according to broadly held principles of justice. But even though I think that this ought to be the case, I have no ability to force another individual to be reasonable; I can only accord them the freedom to be rational and the support necessary to exercise that rationality. It is not possible for the state or anyone else to intrude upon the decision making abilities of people with any real consequence, and it is fanciful to think otherwise.

    I think that given the impossibility of legislating jurors to be rational agents, other considerations must be weighed when it comes to judging whether or not jury nullification is something that should continue. The most important of these other considerations is, I think, the question of unjust laws. There are unjust laws, there have been unjust laws, both in the United States and elsewhere, and there will almost certainly be unjust laws in the future. If jury nullification is a way by which the citizenry can challenge and eventually overturn unjust laws, should we not support it? I think so; doubly so since it is something that is rarely used, and a tool that itself relies upon the better sides of human decision making and moral thinking.

    Finally: I agree with Alasdair MacIntyre when he asserted in After Virtue that all statements are value laden. Your dismissal of emotion I think misses the point. We are all emotional (save for perhaps the psychopaths), and when we make decisions we consider things like emotion, or compassion, or whatever. It is naive and misguided to think that we can purge all emotion from judgement; but even if we could, would we really want to? I don't think so.

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    Does anyonew on this forum understand reductio ad absurdem?

  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    Does anyonew on this forum understand reductio ad absurdem?

    Not you, apparently.

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  • zerg rushzerg rush Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Lets look at some recent court decisions.

    1) Two underage minors are engaged in a sexual relationship. They take pictures of one another and email them to each other. They are charged for production and distribution of child pornography. According to the law as written and facts of the case, they committed crimes. Their lives will be utterly ruined unless somebody on the jury exercises nullification.
    • Is the most moral action to ruin two minor's lives over taking pictures of themselves?
    • Is society best served by ruining to minor's lives because they took pictures of themselves?
    • If you were on the jury, and had to choose between complying with law and ruining these kid's lives, would you make the decision to ruin their lives contrary to what is moral and what serves society?

    2) A person is stopped at the Canadian border on a random check. Two police officers are there giving conflicting orders and he's not able to obey both. One of them punches the person in the face unprovoked. While the person is dazed and confused from the punch, he is given other orders and is too stunned to comply within 4 seconds of the punch. He is then pepper sprayed, hancuffed, beaten up, and thrown wet and half naked into a holding cell in the Canadian winter. None of this is disputed by the police; there is even video evidence to prove what happened to him. He is charged with failure to comply with a lawful order. Technically, he did fail to comply with the order while he was reeling from being punched. He faces multiple years in prison and a hefty fine unless a jury exercises nullification.
    • Is the most moral action to convict this person because they had gotten punched in the face?
    • Is society best served by sending people to prison whose only crime is having gotten punched in the face?
    • If you were on the jury, and had to choose between complying with law and punishing somebody who already was subject to police abuse, would you make the decision to punish him contrary to what is moral and what serves society?


    3) A person is in possession of a plant (as in, potted plant). She is an otherwise upstanding citizen who pays taxes, harms nobody, and does good honest work. This plant has no proven harmful side effects, nor is the plant wanted for murder or anything. The plant has been declared illegal. Yes, the person did have a plant, and it probably was an evil plant. The person who held this plant is now subject to multiple years in jail, this person will lose their job, and a felony record will effectively make them unemployable and ruin their life. The person's only hope is jury nullification.
    • Is the most moral action to convict this person because she had an evil plant?
    • Is society best served by taking somebody out of the workforce and putting them into jail?
    • If you were on the jury, and had to choose between complying with law and ruining this person's life and career, would you make the decision to ruin her life contrary to what is moral and what serves society?

  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    I have a question for people who support nullification, and say that it is an aspect of our common law system, etc. etc. Basically, how exactly would you show that it's an essential part of our jury system, as opposed to an unavoidable byproduct? As in, how would you tell the difference between these two existences? I know quotes have been produced where people say that it's an essential part, but those guys were probably just doing what we're doing - looking at what is, and where it came from, and theorizing.

    Basically, is there a functional difference between the two possibilities, that's not just everyone here putting their opinions over everything?


    I think I tend to oppose nullification in general, because I don't like the idea of having an overt set of laws, and a covert set of laws. I know people were all concerned about the police state, but frankly we're nowhere near that yet. I think it's more likely to help the majority at the expense of the minority, which is generally the reverse of what the courts are supposed to do. Jury nullification is also plausible deniability.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    People are fucking retarded.

    Yeah, sure, one time out of ten, maybe they'll use this sort of system in a good way; the other nine, however, they'll just make sure no one ever gets convicted of lynching in their third-world shithole of a state, or that in spite of similar usage rates, we have way more black drug users in prison than white drug users.

  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Poor Peter Watts :-( You forgot that he isn't even American.


    I'd like to know how you'd go about making sure a jury actually enforces the letter of the law without removing the purpose of the jury in the first place...

    sig10008eq.png
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Moridin wrote: »
    Poor Peter Watts :-( You forgot that he isn't even American.


    I'd like to know how you'd go about making sure a jury actually enforces the letter of the law without removing the purpose of the jury in the first place...
    You don't.

    I'm not saying I've got a better idea for how to run things; I'm just saying that it's a shitty, shitty system, and just because it's the best one we've been able to come up with doesn't make it good.

  • zerg rushzerg rush Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    I have a question for people who support nullification, and say that it is an aspect of our common law system, etc. etc. Basically, how exactly would you show that it's an essential part of our jury system, as opposed to an unavoidable byproduct? As in, how would you tell the difference between these two existences? I know quotes have been produced where people say that it's an essential part, but those guys were probably just doing what we're doing - looking at what is, and where it came from, and theorizing.

    Nullification is not a byproduct; nullification is the entire reason our jury system was created. As to whether or not nullification is 'essential' today... I won't go there yet.

    Problem: The year is 1215. You've just pissed off the king and been charged with a crime. Your choices are Trial by Water (drown until you float, proving your innocence) or Trial by Combat. I hope you can beat Sir Asskickington IV.
    Solution: The church has just declared that trial by ordeal (which involves trial by drowning and trial by combat) probably isn't the best way to see if people are guilty. Hurray!

    Problem: The judges and sheriffs are all appointed by the King. They can hide evidence on your behalf, fabricate evidence against you, etc.
    Solution: Instead of judges just ruling arbitrarily, the jury of peers will determine the facts of the case and present them before the court. Hurray! (NB, juries were already doing this for civil cases)

    Problem: The Law Reads "I'm the King, and I want to fuck John Smith's wife, so it is now illegal to be named John Smith, punishable by death." Shit.
    Solution: Magna Carta: You now have the right to trial by jury. Your peers can choose to send you to the gallows or not. Hurray!



    Yeah, we're lucky nowadays to have relatively restrained politicians. We don't get such laws as "lefthanders are vvicked and must be executed," but many unjust laws remain to this day. But back then, it was more likely than not that a law would be unjust. The entire point of a jury was to look at the law and see if it was just. Sure, there were a fuckton of hickups. Notably, you could be fined or imprisoned for finding somebody innocent. (This only stopped less than 400 years ago. Keep in mind, we've only got trial by jury for 800 years total.) Sometimes it was used for good like preventing religious prosecutions or helping friends of the American revolution, and sometimes it was used for bad like helping the KKK kill black people. Arguments can be made if we still do or do-not need it today.

    But this is my point: Nullification is not a byproduct of the jury system. Nullification is the reason that the jury system exists.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    BubbaT wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Also, if the jury's decision is against the weight of the evidence, the judge can issue a judgment notwithstanding the jury's verdict (basically reverse the jury's verdict).
    Not really. I think the prosecuting organization can appeal, though.

    Jury nullification is a tried and true way of protesting unjust laws. I don't remember a case that saw true jury nullification in the last 20 years, though.
    None of the above. A judge can't overturn a not guilty verdict and the prosecution cannot appeal a jury's decision.

    Basically, once the jury finds you not guilty, that's it. They can come out of the jury room and say they acquitted you because they didn't like the color of the prosecutor's tie, and there's nothing the government can do about it.

    See, I don't get why the jury didn't do exactly that. Granted in the bigger scheme of things it didn't make a difference - the sentence for the defendant's plea is being served concurrently with the sentence he got for a different conviction - but AFAIK the jury wasn't aware of the defendant's priors when they came up with this pseudo-nullification idea.

    If the defendant had been some regular guy working in an office 9-5, the conviction based on the plea still goes on the guy's record, probably gets him fired, and pops up on background checks for the rest of his life. Whereas if the jury had allowed themselves to be seated and then acquitted, then the defendant's name is cleared. That would have been true nullification.


    Of course, that would have required the jurors to actually serve jury duty. Blech. Hey, if it gets me out of jury duty, I'm morally opposed to any/all laws too.

    A large part of it is probably because there's a big debate over weed up here at the moment, which has gotten pretty ugly (several dispensaries have been damaged and vandalized, city zoning boards have restricted the creation of new dispensaries.)

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  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    We should probably keep this within the confines of the modern American justice system or close analogs abroad.

    Bringing up cases and case law from hundreds of years ago isn't really relevant.

    It's pretty relevant in that our justice system is pretty much the same justice system from 1776 and earlier.

    Try to cite a ruling from the 1700s in a court case and see how that goes.

    The Magna Carta says hello.

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    We should probably keep this within the confines of the modern American justice system or close analogs abroad.

    Bringing up cases and case law from hundreds of years ago isn't really relevant.
    It's pretty relevant in that our justice system is pretty much the same justice system from 1776 and earlier.
    Try to cite a ruling from the 1700s in a court case and see how that goes.
    The Magna Carta says hello.
    Yeah, there was actually an American case that cited the Magna Carta... I think it was in the 70s, but it could have been as recently as the 90s or 00s.

  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    We should probably keep this within the confines of the modern American justice system or close analogs abroad.

    Bringing up cases and case law from hundreds of years ago isn't really relevant.
    It's pretty relevant in that our justice system is pretty much the same justice system from 1776 and earlier.
    Try to cite a ruling from the 1700s in a court case and see how that goes.
    The Magna Carta says hello.
    Yeah, there was actually an American case that cited the Magna Carta... I think it was in the 70s, but it could have been as recently as the 90s or 00s.

    Apparently the supreme court justices have citied the Magna Carta in over fifty cases since World War II in written opinions. But that's according to some sketchy arsed website that I don't know the provenance of.

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  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    zerg rush wrote: »
    I have a question for people who support nullification, and say that it is an aspect of our common law system, etc. etc. Basically, how exactly would you show that it's an essential part of our jury system, as opposed to an unavoidable byproduct? As in, how would you tell the difference between these two existences? I know quotes have been produced where people say that it's an essential part, but those guys were probably just doing what we're doing - looking at what is, and where it came from, and theorizing.

    Nullification is not a byproduct; nullification is the entire reason our jury system was created. As to whether or not nullification is 'essential' today... I won't go there yet.
    <snip>

    I appreciate the response, but you didn't really answer my question, you just restated your position more forcefully. If jury nullification is the entire reason the jury system was created, in order to nullify bad laws, then why don't we allow juries to strike down entire laws?

    Basically what I'm saying is that I can't tell I should believe that perspective rather than just thinking that juries were created to allow common people to decide cases without coercion, and that nullification is the unavoidable result of allowing privacy in the deliberation room. What would be the difference between these two scenarios?

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    We should probably keep this within the confines of the modern American justice system or close analogs abroad.

    Bringing up cases and case law from hundreds of years ago isn't really relevant.
    It's pretty relevant in that our justice system is pretty much the same justice system from 1776 and earlier.
    Try to cite a ruling from the 1700s in a court case and see how that goes.
    The Magna Carta says hello.
    Yeah, there was actually an American case that cited the Magna Carta... I think it was in the 70s, but it could have been as recently as the 90s or 00s.

    Apparently the supreme court justices have citied the Magna Carta in over fifty cases since World War II in written opinions. But that's according to some sketchy arsed website that I don't know the provenance of.

    It would not surprise me considering that pretty much modern society is based off it. Clause 39 is "due process" and Clause 1 is freedom from religion, so to speak.

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    Druk wrote: »
    Well for an example other than pot, I'd say anything that has mandatory minimum sentencing is likely due for some nullification. Say, statutory rape laws in some cases.

    Or child pornography which involves an underage person sending nude pictures to another underage person
    I agree. If I was on a jury, I'd have a tough time convicting in either of those cases.

    To some extend jury nullification serves as a scalpel whereas the law is a hammer. Laws are written very generally and create some bright lines. Though an 18 year-old sleeping with a 17 year-old may be technically illegal, I don't see the spirit of the law being meant to apply to that situation. Similarly, a 16 year-old high school girl sexting a picture of her vag to her boyfriend is not really what child pornography laws are designed to cover.

    In cases like that, until the government puts in the effort to fine-tune the laws, I don't have any issues with juries exercising their common sense judgment.

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  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    The Seventh Amendment argument is nuts. The right to a trial by jury means just that - that you have a right to trial by jury. Don't you think that the Framers were aware of all that hallowed British common law and could, if they wished, have explicitly stated that such a jury shall have the right to nullify unjust laws?
    Keep in mind that the Constitution is not an exhaustive list of the powers and rights of the people. The requirement of a jury trial is meant to be a check on the power of the government. One of the complaints of the American Revolution was that the King had done away with jury trials in the colonies, or had been taking colonials to stand trial in England. A jury's power to nullify seems to flow pretty logically from the idea that people have a right to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.
    A jury is also tasked with applying those facts to the law. A jury can certainly make a "finding of fact" that the defendant is African-American. Do you think that, therefore, it would be OK for a jury to convict a defendant in a murder case because of the "fact" that the defendant is black? I mean, that's the jury's job - to find facts, right?
    The jury could do so if they wanted, but unless all of them are willing to keep their mouths shut about their motivations, someone would tip off the judge and there would either be a mistrial, or the verdict would be overturned on appeal.

    That's the beauty of a system requiring more than one person to decide on guilt or innocence. It becomes a lot more difficult for bigotry of that type to work. On the other hand, if a judge in a bench trial is a secret racist, there's no way to catch him.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    We should probably keep this within the confines of the modern American justice system or close analogs abroad.

    Bringing up cases and case law from hundreds of years ago isn't really relevant.

    It's pretty relevant in that our justice system is pretty much the same justice system from 1776 and earlier.

    Try to cite a ruling from the 1700s in a court case and see how that goes.

    The Magna Carta says hello.

    Magna Carta wasn't a court ruling.

    sig.jpg
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    No but it is interesting to read how similar the bill of rights are to the wording in the Magna Carta.

  • dojangodojango Registered User
    edited December 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    No but it is interesting to read how similar the bill of rights are to the wording in the Magna Carta.

    much of the American bill of rights was borrowed from the English bill of rights of 1689.

    for example:

    American eighth amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    English Bill of Rights: That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;

    American 2nd amendment: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed
    English Bill of Rights: That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    No but it is interesting to read how similar the bill of rights are to the wording in the Magna Carta.

    While I would find citing the Magna Carta to be amusing I wouldn't find it all that objectionable.

    But people have cited 350 year old English cases here to justify it and when its pointed out that they might not be relevant arguments anymore they just shout "common law" as if that were a logical justification for a bad policy.

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