Jury Nullification Explained
In this article you will learn something about jury nullification. You need to know about it. The government does not want you to know about it.
There has been a lot of talk recently about people wanting to “uphold the Constitution,” or “follow the Constitution.” Most of those people who are shouting that have no idea what the constitution really says or means.
What I am about to tell you is not written in the Constitution. But it is a right that citizens of the United States of America have. In fact, the government tries very hard to keep you from knowing about this right. Again, the term is jury nullification.
When you serve on a jury the judge gives you instructions. You take an oath to follow those instructions. One of the instructions tells you what the law is and how you should apply the law to the evidence.
Is the Law Unjust?
But what if that law is unjust? When you take the oath at the beginning of the trial you have no idea what the instructions are going to be. Yet, the government, whether you are in a State or Federal Court, makes you take an oath to follow instructions before you even hear them. That doesn’t seem right.
Now you are on a jury listening to evidence about a set of circumstances. Let me give you an example.
The police stop a young man for a stop sign violation. Because he comes from a bad family they get him out of the car and search him and he has a small amount of marijuana on him. That is against the law in Missouri.
Most of the time those cases never get to State court any more. But this one does because the young man is from a family that is not well liked in the community.
The State wants jail time for the young man. He asks for a jury trial. There is no question that he had the marijuana on him when he was stopped.
The Jury Has the Power
The State asks you to convict him. You know this is unfair. If you follow the instructions you have to convict him. The catch is that you the jury have the power to not follow the instructions and do whatever you want. That is what is called jury nullification.
You can return a verdict of not guilty and there is nothing the prosecutor or judge can do about it so long as it is a unanimous decision. Anything less is a hung jury.
Sometimes it is necessary for the jury to step in and set things right. The way that some laws are enforced are just not fair. That does not stop some unscrupulous or overzealous prosecutor from trying to put people they do not agree with in jail.
Prosecutors have a great deal of power in this country. The most certain way to stop the government from infringing on our rights is to be part of the jury system.
Right or Duty?
If you are ever asked to serve on a jury, do it. It really is important. It is a right, not a duty.
When you serve on that jury remember that you have the power and the right as a jury to bring in any verdict you want in spite of what the instructions. Remember the term jury nullification. It will become more important in these troubling times.
The people in power do not want you to know this.