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Pre-trial Jury Nullification

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Posts

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »

    Or you could just have automatic mistrial if there were indications that they were making decisions other than guilt versus innocence.

    A: how would you know?

    B: It could be entirely internal, such that one or more members don't discuss it, but still refuse to find guilt.

    C: It basically gives prosecutors the opportunity to try to get a do-over if the result doesn't goes their way, double jeopardy be damned.

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    No, I like jury nullification because it's another check to prevent a police state.

    Except that it's just as easily a check to allow the violent persecution or murder of unpopular minorities to go legally unpunished.

    Yay freedom!

    That, and to support the police state. Who cares if the law says that police officers have to follow rules? Just get a nice, authoritarian citizen or two on a jury and deadlock that trial. Or get an acquittal. Rules. schmules.

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  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Druk wrote: »
    Hey, you're the one who used the term "historical example".

    I used historical examples that are still relevant today. You used a historical example that is not.

    I'm not saying the entire concept of jury nullification should be somehow banned, because it really can't be.

    I do think that prosecutors are well within their rights to exclude jurors who, before hearing a shred of evidence, declare that they plan to base their judgment on how they personally feel about the law.

    I also think that the concept of jury nullification has done far more social harm than social good (especially during the 20th Century), and the folks who think that every jury should be specifically instructed about their presumed nullification powers are fucking loons.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    I'm shocked that some here would abolish such an important legal concept as jury nullification. Juries are the last line of defense against bad laws. Yes, it has been abused, but getting rid of it would be like removing freedom of speech because it can allow a neo-nazi demonstration. Frankly, I find the idea that jurors can be dismissed for knowing about their rights disgusting.

    I'm sorry, I thought that's what appeals courts are for. Really, the idea of jury nullification is the idea that a couple random retards should be able to supersede the entire government.

    The only grounds to appeal against the law itself is on a constitutionality claim. A bad law can be perfectly constitutional.

    Well, that's not the only grounds for appeal, but you can't appeal because a law is "unjust." Even if the legislature later determines the law is unjust and changes it, you're still screwed.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    No, I like jury nullification because it's another check to prevent a police state.

    Except that it's just as easily a check to allow the violent persecution or murder of unpopular minorities to go legally unpunished.

    Yay freedom!

    That, and to support the police state. Who cares if the law says that police officers have to follow rules? Just get a nice, authoritarian citizen or two on a jury and deadlock that trial. Or get an acquittal. Rules. schmules.

    You see the law as a defense against a police state. I see the law as the principle instrument of a police state.

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    Well, that's not the only grounds for appeal, but you can't appeal because a law is "unjust."

    Sure you can. You just have to explain 'unjust' in terms showing that the law should be overturned - because it violates the Constitution, or is superseded by federal law, say.

    But that aside, hello, there are plenty of avenues for changing a law other than a) jury nullification and b) challenging the constitutionality of the law in court.

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  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    enc0re wrote: »
    You see the law as a defense against a police state. I see the law as the principle instrument of a police state.

    You see contempt for the law as a defense against a police state. I see contempt for the law as a principal instrument of the police state.

    You see laws that exist with the consent of the citizenry as proof of tyranny. I see laws that exist with the consent of the citizenry as proof of a democratic society.

    "One man calls the shots" is exactly the definition of a dictatorship.

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    I'm shocked that some here would abolish such an important legal concept as jury nullification. Juries are the last line of defense against bad laws. Yes, it has been abused, but getting rid of it would be like removing freedom of speech because it can allow a neo-nazi demonstration. Frankly, I find the idea that jurors can be dismissed for knowing about their rights disgusting.

    I'm sorry, I thought that's what appeals courts are for. Really, the idea of jury nullification is the idea that a couple random retards should be able to supersede the entire government.

    The only grounds to appeal against the law itself is on a constitutionality claim. A bad law can be perfectly constitutional.

    In which case it isn't the role of the jury to rule against it.

    It isn't the jury's role anyway. You want random retards to take the job that the constitution gives to appeals courts made up of respected legal scholars. That is not okay. The United states is neither anarchy nor demarchy nor ochlocracy, for good reason.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    Well, that's not the only grounds for appeal, but you can't appeal because a law is "unjust."

    Sure you can. You just have to explain 'unjust' in terms showing that the law should be overturned - because it violates the Constitution, or is superseded by federal law, say.

    But that aside, hello, there are plenty of avenues for changing a law other than a) jury nullification and b) challenging the constitutionality of the law in court.

    Well, to return to the OP, I find it unjust to subject one to criminal penalties for using or possessing marijuana. Yet there isn't really a good argument that such a law violates the Constitution or is superseded by federal law.

  • DrukDruk Registered User
    edited December 2010
    The thread started as an example of marijuana law nullification (edit: well, sort of), since you want to talk about examples relevant today.
    Now, I think it's debatable whether it's better or worse to let a few murderers go free (and let's be honest, even if there isn't reasonable doubt in those cases, there's still some doubt - juries aren't saying "not guilty" on clear-cut cases these days, definitely not unanimously) compared to non-violent drug offenders that could be kept out of prison's high-recidivism-rate population.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    You see laws that exist with the consent of the citizenry as proof of tyranny. I see laws that exist with the consent of the citizenry as proof of a democratic society.

    Not as proof; as a possibility. When tyranny comes, it will be legal. Someone referenced the 'four boxes' in the armed insurrection thread.

    Soap Box
    Ballot Box
    Jury Box
    Ammo Box

    Of course, it's vastly preferable to overturn unjust laws through public discourse and the democratic process. But if that fails, I want redundant failsafes.

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    I'm shocked that some here would abolish such an important legal concept as jury nullification. Juries are the last line of defense against bad laws. Yes, it has been abused, but getting rid of it would be like removing freedom of speech because it can allow a neo-nazi demonstration. Frankly, I find the idea that jurors can be dismissed for knowing about their rights disgusting.

    I'm sorry, I thought that's what appeals courts are for. Really, the idea of jury nullification is the idea that a couple random retards should be able to supersede the entire government.

    The only grounds to appeal against the law itself is on a constitutionality claim. A bad law can be perfectly constitutional.

    In which case it isn't the role of the jury to rule against it.

    It isn't the jury's role anyway. You want random retards to take the job that the constitution gives to appeals courts made up of respected legal scholars. That is not okay. The United states is neither anarchy nor demarchy nor ochlocracy, for good reason.

    I think you have my position confused. I just want juries to deal with matters of guilt or innocence under the law. Let appeals courts and higher courts deal with the laws themselves.

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  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    enc0re wrote: »
    Of course, it's vastly preferable to overturn unjust laws through public discourse and the democratic process. But if that fails, I want redundant failsafes.

    That's charmingly naive. You think that the one thing tyranny is going to forget to overlook, when it comes, is the unlimited power of juries in criminal cases to acquit?

    What you're refusing to acknowledge is that jury nullification can be - and historically, has been - used to overturn just laws passed after public discourse and the democratic process.

    I think you'd agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state, yes? That doesn't mean it's moral and just for me to put a bullet in you and say hey, by MY standards that's self-defense, I don't CARE what the LAW says self-defense means.

    By the way, it does seem like y'all are forgetting that there is such a thing as the civil courts system. Jury nullification applies there, too, and has nothing to do with people being sent to jail for owning a joint.

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  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    That's charmingly naive. You think that the one thing tyranny is going to forget to overlook, when it comes, is the unlimited power of juries in criminal cases to acquit?

    What you're refusing to acknowledge is that jury nullification can be - and historically, has been - used to overturn just laws passed after public discourse and the democratic process.

    I think you'd agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state, yes? That doesn't mean it's moral and just for me to put a bullet in you and say hey, by MY standards that's self-defense, I don't CARE what the LAW says self-defense means.

    By the way, it does seem like y'all are forgetting that there is such a thing as the civil courts system. Jury nullification applies there, too, and has nothing to do with people being sent to jail for owning a joint.

    I am absolutely acknowledging that this has happened, can happen again, and is bad. However, the good that jury nullification provides outweighs this bad. Likewise, I would support gun rights, even if they were mathematically proven to cost lives.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    Of course, it's vastly preferable to overturn unjust laws through public discourse and the democratic process. But if that fails, I want redundant failsafes.

    That's charmingly naive. You think that the one thing tyranny is going to forget to overlook, when it comes, is the unlimited power of juries in criminal cases to acquit?

    What you're refusing to acknowledge is that jury nullification can be - and historically, has been - used to overturn just laws passed after public discourse and the democratic process.

    I think you'd agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state, yes? That doesn't mean it's moral and just for me to put a bullet in you and say hey, by MY standards that's self-defense, I don't CARE what the LAW says self-defense means.

    By the way, it does seem like y'all are forgetting that there is such a thing as the civil courts system. Jury nullification applies there, too, and has nothing to do with people being sent to jail for owning a joint.

    I actually don't agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state. I do however think it's a good principle.

    And yes, juries can also find against the facts in a civil court if they think the outcome would be unjust. what of it?

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    mythago wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    Of course, it's vastly preferable to overturn unjust laws through public discourse and the democratic process. But if that fails, I want redundant failsafes.

    That's charmingly naive. You think that the one thing tyranny is going to forget to overlook, when it comes, is the unlimited power of juries in criminal cases to acquit?

    What you're refusing to acknowledge is that jury nullification can be - and historically, has been - used to overturn just laws passed after public discourse and the democratic process.

    I think you'd agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state, yes? That doesn't mean it's moral and just for me to put a bullet in you and say hey, by MY standards that's self-defense, I don't CARE what the LAW says self-defense means.

    By the way, it does seem like y'all are forgetting that there is such a thing as the civil courts system. Jury nullification applies there, too, and has nothing to do with people being sent to jail for owning a joint.

    I actually don't agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state. I do however think it's a good principle.

    And yes, juries can also find against the facts in a civil court if they think the outcome would be unjust. what of it?

    Then what, pray tell, are appeals courts for, and why should juries have uninhibited power with no sort of review or check?

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    enc0re wrote: »
    I am absolutely acknowledging that this has happened, can happen again, and is bad. However, the good that jury nullification provides outweighs this bad. Likewise, I would support gun rights, even if they were mathematically proven to cost lives.

    What good does jury nullification provide? All I've heard so far is that, if the US were to turn into a police state someday, then magically the power of jury nullifcation would remain and we'd turn back the jackbooted hordes. Oh, and also it gets people off the hook in pot cases. That seems to be the real issue, frankly.

    In the meantime, the bad that jury nullification provides is to allow one person whose opinions did not find enough buyers in the marketplace of ideas to pull out an I Win No Tagbacks card at will.

    This isn't at all like gun rights - which, you know, are enshrined in the Second Amendment and all.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Druk wrote: »
    Supposedly he didn't have to admit guilt in the plea bargain, which does sound confusing to me.

    As far as the jury's job:
    "First Chief Justice of the US John Jay wrote: "It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision... you [juries] have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy". State of Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. 1, 4 (1794)," (wikipedia) (emphasis added)

    In case it wasn't covered, he probably entered a plea of "no contest." Which (in my limited legal knowledge...but I have actually plead no contest in the past!) allows the court to impose a sentence for the offense, without actually admitting guilt. There are various ways in which this benefits the accused.



    Anyway, this is fuckawesome. You can talk about jury nullification in lynching cases and other possible abuses of the system...but guess what? Those will happen anyway. If your populace is fucked up enough that they'll let a lynch mob walk, there's nothing you can do about that and your criminal justice system will be broken whether you like it or not.

    At least cases like this allow this flaw in the system to do some good, to offset the bad.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    Then what, pray tell, are appeals courts for, and why should juries have uninhibited power with no sort of review or check?

    Appeals courts exist* to determine whether laws are legal, juries whether the accused are guilty. Appeals courts can overturn lower courts in both ways, juries can only ignore laws but not enforce non-existing ones. Appeals court decisions are binding, jury nullification is not. They are both important.

    *obviously they do more than that, just drawing the distinction here.

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    I actually don't agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state. I do however think it's a good principle.

    Really? You think if agents of the police state are abusing you that it's OK to take away your right to protect yourself?
    oldsak wrote: »
    And yes, juries can also find against the facts in a civil court if they think the outcome would be unjust. what of it?

    If you really think that throwing out rule of law and going to 'rule of whatever you can talk three or four people into' is a great idea, go start that floating Libertarian paradise you've always dreamed of. In the real world it's a little hard to run a just society where the democratic process means nothing.

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  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    enc0re wrote: »
    Appeals court decisions are binding, jury nullification is not.

    I think you meant that appeals-court decisions set precedent, which they do to some degree depending on the court and the scope of the decision. Jury nullification in a civil case IS binding, because once a defendant is acquitted, that's the end of the story. It doesn't matter if, afterward, the jury foreman says "We acquitted her because none of us believe rape should be illegal". End of the line.

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  • DrukDruk Registered User
    edited December 2010
    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.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    oldsak wrote: »
    I actually don't agree that the right to self-defense is essential to a democratic society and a bulwark against the police state. I do however think it's a good principle.

    Really? You think if agents of the police state are abusing you that it's OK to take away your right to protect yourself?
    oldsak wrote: »
    And yes, juries can also find against the facts in a civil court if they think the outcome would be unjust. what of it?

    If you really think that throwing out rule of law and going to 'rule of whatever you can talk three or four people into' is a great idea, go start that floating Libertarian paradise you've always dreamed of. In the real world it's a little hard to run a just society where the democratic process means nothing.

    I'll start with your last point first.

    A. As has been mentioned before, jury nullification is very rare. Defense attorneys are forbidden from suggesting juries employ nullification, or even alerting them to that right. The idea is that a jury will only follow that course of action in the instances they find the legal outcome so abhorrent they cannot act to enforce it. I find it hard to believe a jury is anywhere nearly as likely to find a civil outcome so abhorrent as they would be to find a criminal outcome so abhorrent.

    B. In civil trials, you can have a directed jury verdict, which means that the jury returns findings on certain essential facts as well as a final verdict. If the final verdict does not match up with the findings of fact, the judge or an appeals court can throw out the jury's verdict and find in accordance with those facts.

    As to your first point, the right of self defense generally applies to the use of force against another citizen. It's not intended as a defense against police, nor is it a reliable defense against a charge of assault or murder of a police officer.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    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

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    oldsak wrote: »
    A. As has been mentioned before, jury nullification is very rare.

    A. Where do you get this information? Jury nullification happens PLENTY. If you're talking about "FIJA-educated jurors carefully weighing the balance of law vs. tyranny," then perhaps. But jury nullification is anytime a jury decides they don't agree with the law, or that the law shouldn't apply even though it clearly does. You know, because she asked for it. Or because there are just too many lawsuits nowadays. Or because the victim needed killin' and the defendant was the right man for the job.
    oldsak wrote: »
    Defense attorneys are forbidden from suggesting juries employ nullification, or even alerting them to that right. The idea is that a jury will only follow that course of action in the instances they find the legal outcome so abhorrent they cannot act to enforce it. I find it hard to believe a jury is anywhere nearly as likely to find a civil outcome so abhorrent as they would be to find a criminal outcome so abhorrent.

    What you find convenient to believe and what really happens are not overlapping sets.

    I practice in civil courts. Jury nullification is a HUGE issue for me. And, again, I'm not talking about FIJA members - I've actually been on a trial team that put one of those guys on a jury. I'm talking about people who just figure that all lawsuits are bullshit therefore they're going to express their displeasure about them by screwing my client; or people who believe that [group the defendant belongs to] can do no wrong; or who simply believe that they should make up their minds about who should win, and screw what the law says. I am CONSTANTLY having to weed those people out of jury pools, and it's not because they are independent thinkers who know their rights as jurors.

    And bullSHIT that defense attorneys can't suggest jury nullification. Of course they can, and do. They just can't say "you have the right to nullify the law". They just have to be, you know, lawyerly about blaming the victim and ranting about unjust laws and all.
    oldsak wrote: »
    B. In civil trials, you can have a directed jury verdict, which means that the jury returns findings on certain essential facts as well as a final verdict. If the final verdict does not match up with the findings of fact, the judge or an appeals court can throw out the jury's verdict and find in accordance with those facts.

    Which is very difficult to do, and takes time and money. And then the other side appeals too.
    As to your first point, the right of self defense generally applies to the use of force against another citizen. It's not intended as a defense against police, nor is it a reliable defense against a charge of assault or murder of a police officer.

    So if an off-duty police officer kicks in my door to rape my teenage daughter, neither she nor I can lift a finger because, dude, police officers can do what they like? Sounds like a police state to me.

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  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    saggio wrote: »
    The common law system has allowed jury nullification for centuries. It rarely happens, but it is a legitimate and established principle of common law justice systems.

    No, it isn't. It's an existing bug in the system that can't really be fixed without gutting the role of the jury.

    Let's be brutally honest here: people like jury nullification because they think it's going to lead to the results they want.

    I disagree.
    The criminal jury's power to deliver a verdict counter to both law and evidence resides in the
    fact that a general verdict of guilty or not guilty requires no other revelation as to the decision by the
    jurors. Indeed, this state of affairs has existed since the Bushell case in England
    in 1670.
    The jury's right to decide a criminal case by its own lights, without fear
    of outside coercion and pressures, has been a hallmark of Anglo-American jurisprudence

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Lets not start using an appeal to tradition when we're talking about law, thats a shitty road to take a shitty fallacy down.

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    So, where in the constitution (which is the blueprint of the government, remember), the laws passed throughout American history, or judicial precedent is there any suggestion that juries have the power of review?

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

    Congratulations illustrating your ignorance as to the importance of precedent in a common law legal system. The reason that references to cases past is relevant is because all common law is built around past practices and decisions. It is not an 'appeal to tradition.' I'm not saying that we ought to continue doing this because we have done it in the past. I am saying that the power exists, and has always existed, at least since 1670. To assert otherwise is false.

    I will quote some more:
    It is certainly clear that juries have this power to nullify the law. A jury's
    decision to acquit is not vulnerable to reprisal. The issue is, should juries be
    informed of this power?
    That is, should the court be allowed to make explicit this
    nullificationp ower? Specifically,t he debate concerns the wisdom of informingt he
    trial jury that they can acquit on the basis of conscience (Scheflin, 1988). At the
    heart of this issue are the consequences of candor. If juries are informed of the
    implicit nullification power, as proponents believe they should be, what will ensue?
    Will we have anarchy and "runaway" juries?

    Should juries be informed of the power of nullification? I think that yes, they ought to be - juries ought to be informed of all powers available to them that they might need in the discharge of their duties. It is not only in the interest of the accused that jurors be informed of their ability to strike down unjust laws, but it is in the wider interest of society. Presumably, no one wants to have unjust laws, irrespective of their content.

    It is arrogant and elitist in the extreme for individuals to assert that juries essentially can't handle the truth. If we are committed to justice by a tribunal of one's peers, then we must absolutely respect the rationality of the jurors themselves. To lie to them, or misrepresent their prerogatives, or to simply omit to tell them some crucial fact about the true extent of their powers for dispensing justice is most heinous and infringes upon the jurors' own agency and rationality. We would be treating jurors as means rather than ends.

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  • DrukDruk Registered User
    edited December 2010
    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.

  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    So, where in the constitution (which is the blueprint of the government, remember), the laws passed throughout American history, or judicial precedent is there any suggestion that juries have the power of review?

    Presumably, you are asking about the American constitution, as opposed to the British or Canadian?

    I couldn't say where in the American constitution it says that juries have the power of nullification. All I know is that it is a power that juries have had in common law countries since 1670. If the United States is a common law country, as it was previous to 1776 and has continued to be after, then the power of jury nullification continues to exist. That is the inheritance of English justice that all former colonies and outposts of empire have received. There are exceptions to the rule; namely Quebec and Scotland, whose legal systems have always been separate and which have been protected in statue as separate and distinct for three centuries. The United States isn't an exception in this case.

    It is a common law country.

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  • PataPata Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    You really can't get rid of jury nullification without completely doing away with juries.

    Not sure how this follows. You can determine guilt under the law without getting to decide whether you even like the law.

    Because as long as juries are people with opinions you're eventually going to get a group of people who go "this is unfair this guy shouldn't be punished for this even if it's against the law!" and vote Not Guilty.

    Spoiler:
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered 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.
    Because as long as juries are people with opinions you're eventually going to get a group of people who go "this is unfair this guy shouldn't be punished for this even if it's against the law!" and vote Not Guilty.

    If something is wrong in our system the solution isn't to make it part of the system.

    And there is a process for weeding out those people, being a super majority or unanimous decision being required, and the process of juror selection. These help weed out and delute the power of those who would use their position in the box to find based on their moral views rather than the law.

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    saggio 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.

    Congratulations illustrating your ignorance as to the importance of precedent in a common law legal system. The reason that references to cases past is relevant is because all common law is built around past practices and decisions. It is not an 'appeal to tradition.' I'm not saying that we ought to continue doing this because we have done it in the past. I am saying that the power exists, and has always existed, at least since 1670. To assert otherwise is false.

    I will quote some more:
    It is certainly clear that juries have this power to nullify the law. A jury's
    decision to acquit is not vulnerable to reprisal. The issue is, should juries be
    informed of this power?
    That is, should the court be allowed to make explicit this
    nullificationp ower? Specifically,t he debate concerns the wisdom of informingt he
    trial jury that they can acquit on the basis of conscience (Scheflin, 1988). At the
    heart of this issue are the consequences of candor. If juries are informed of the
    implicit nullification power, as proponents believe they should be, what will ensue?
    Will we have anarchy and "runaway" juries?

    Should juries be informed of the power of nullification? I think that yes, they ought to be - juries ought to be informed of all powers available to them that they might need in the discharge of their duties. It is not only in the interest of the accused that jurors be informed of their ability to strike down unjust laws, but it is in the wider interest of society. Presumably, no one wants to have unjust laws, irrespective of their content.

    It is arrogant and elitist in the extreme for individuals to assert that juries essentially can't handle the truth. If we are committed to justice by a tribunal of one's peers, then we must absolutely respect the rationality of the jurors themselves. To lie to them, or misrepresent their prerogatives, or to simply omit to tell them some crucial fact about the true extent of their powers for dispensing justice is most heinous and infringes upon the jurors' own agency and rationality. We would be treating jurors as means rather than ends.

    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.

  • PataPata Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    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.

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  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    saggio wrote: »
    I disagree.
    The criminal jury's power to deliver a verdict counter to both law and evidence resides in the
    fact that a general verdict of guilty or not guilty requires no other revelation as to the decision by the
    jurors. Indeed, this state of affairs has existed since the Bushell case in England
    in 1670.
    The jury's right to decide a criminal case by its own lights, without fear
    of outside coercion and pressures, has been a hallmark of Anglo-American jurisprudence

    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'.

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    saggio wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    So, where in the constitution (which is the blueprint of the government, remember), the laws passed throughout American history, or judicial precedent is there any suggestion that juries have the power of review?

    Presumably, you are asking about the American constitution, as opposed to the British or Canadian?

    I couldn't say where in the American constitution it says that juries have the power of nullification. All I know is that it is a power that juries have had in common law countries since 1670. If the United States is a common law country, as it was previous to 1776 and has continued to be after, then the power of jury nullification continues to exist. That is the inheritance of English justice that all former colonies and outposts of empire have received. There are exceptions to the rule; namely Quebec and Scotland, whose legal systems have always been separate and which have been protected in statue as separate and distinct for three centuries. The United States isn't an exception in this case.

    It is a common law country.

    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.

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    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.

    That doesn't make it legitimate precedent. British law was based off of Greek and Roman law, is that valid? How about Hammurabi's code?
    Sometimes the law is immoral and should be ignored.

    This is a self evidently terrible way to run a justice system.

    There are channels for challenging the law.

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  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2010
    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.

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    saggio wrote: »
    It is arrogant and elitist in the extreme for individuals to assert that juries essentially can't handle the truth.

    "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?

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