Others view it as a violation of the right to a jury trial, which undermines the law. The courts are saying, yes, we have a right to nullify. The District Court and our Court are simply refusing to apply these words because they do not agree with them.". Laura Kriho is a jury nullification advocate who was charged with contempt of court while serving as a juror. Because in Shondaland, it's illegal to tell the jury about nullification. Jury nullification refers broadly to a jury's knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law either because the jury wants to send a message about some social issue that is larger than the case itself or because the result dictated by law is contrary to the jury's sense of justice, morality, or fairness. He appealed his case, where a higher court overruled his punishment. But the judge always has the right and duty to tell them what the law is upon this or that state of facts...." This directive has been recognized by this court in United States v. Burkhart, 501 F.2d 993, 996-97 (6th Cir. (They deserve fair trials, like anyone accused of a crime.). Jury nullification occurs when a jury substitutes its own interpretation of the law and/or disregards the law entirely in reaching a verdict. This form needs Javascript to display, which your browser doesn't support. She also expressed opposition to drug laws in general. The rest of this section will discuss only the details with respect to the United States. This unfortunate ruling has given judges apparent legal carte blanche to use this false jury instruction. I want to decide a fair and just outcome. This is the check valve to prevent the letter of the law from trumping the spirit of the law. Because her case was dismissed and she was never convicted of the drug charges, Kriho believed the matter was settled. The inability to discuss jury nullification openly encourages hung juries. Jury nullification is a hidden power because no one is allowed discuss it in the courtroom before the jury. Our Court has made it clear in the past that the jury does have veto power and the jury should have been so instructed. Jury … In real-life Pennsylvania, nullification is referenced in the state constitution and case law. The reason for this is because Jury Nullification is not a legal concept, it's a named aftereffect of something the Jury can do. The United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit ruled against Krzyske on the jury nullification instruction issue in a split decision with two judges concurring and one judge dissenting. Flex Your Rights Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable foundation (EIN: 32-0022088). You can also shove your arm down a garbage disposal! It's illegal as you try to influence Jurors - and that's also Tampering with a Jury. During deliberations, she told fellow jurors that she believed drug problems should be solved by families, not courts. Just don’t do it. This infuriated the panel of judges, who locked up the jury without food or water until they arrived at a “correct” verdict. . Though I know nothing about Pennsylvania-specific jury instructions regarding nullification, I doubt mentioning it in her closing would get Prof. Keating disbarred. Jury nullification occurs when a jury substitutes its own interpretation of the law and/or disregards the law entirely in reaching a verdict. The government may prefer a jury pool that has never heard about jury nullification. You would violate your oath and the law if you willfully brought in a verdict contrary to the law given you in this case." Previous Question                    Next Question  >. Nor may a lawyer mention it during closing arguments. It can occur in criminal or civil trials. On appeal, Kriho’s conviction was overturned and the fine was dropped. You would have known that Jury Nullification not only gives you this right, but that it is your duty as a juror to render your verdict in such a manner. See U.S. v. Thomas, 116 F.3d 606 (2d Cir. One of those grounds for appeal was that he argued he was entitled to a jury instruction regarding jury nullification. "Jury nullification" occurs when a jury bends the law to produce a desired result. The inability to discuss jury nullification openly encourages hung juries. It simply does not exist. This has happened in part because The Court responded by telling the jury that it had no power to engage in jury nullification and that was the end of the matter. The short answer is no. . So if you must, hang. The jury specifically asked about its power to do so, and was told by the District Court that it had no such power. In her trial, the prosecution claimed that Kriho should have known that the court wanted this information about her past, even though she had correctly responded that she had never been convicted of a drug charge. As trial lawyer and jury nullification expert Clay Conrad notes in response to this question, of course you can. A person can be completely in violation of the letter of the law, and still be consciously set free. 1974), where we approved a district court's instruction that the jury consider only the facts and law before them. The justices were not satisfied. Jury nullification occurs when a trial jury reaches a verdict that is contrary to the letter of the law because the jurors either: disagree with the law under which the defendant is prosecuted, or believe that the law shouldn’t be applied in the case at hand. Despite the judge's statement being untrue, therefore, the majority stated that: "The right of a jury, as a buffer between the accused and the state, to reach a verdict despite what may seem clear law must be kept distinct from the court's duty to uphold the law and to apply it impartially. Take the questions literally. Its the last check on the legal system. . However, jury verdicts of acquittal are unassailable even where the verdict is inconsistent with the weight of the evidence and instruction of the law. 1997). We all suffer when they’re criminalized into silence. While juries may do it, instructing them that they have the power of jury nullification is not allowed under Michigan law. Guilty, not guilty, and the option that even though the defendant did "wrong" the jury decides he shouldn't be punished. This type of statement traces back at least to 1988 to the case of U.S. vs. Krzyske (6th Circuit, 1988). What It's Like to Explain Jury Nullification to a Sitting Judge Don't assume I agree to enforce absurd laws. Notably, both the opinion affirming the conviction and the dissenting opinion recognize that it is, indeed, jurors' right to refuse to enforce the law. If the judge believes that a juror is thinking about nullification, they will likely remove that juror. But a trial court can issue a false statement of law to a jury that nullification is illegal, and this will not require a reversal of a conviction. In fact, we are all presumed to know the law. The greater risk is getting struck from the jury before you get a chance to use your jury nullification right. It's not legal, but it's not inherently "illegal" in the way that most people think about it. Others believe jury nullification is a violation of an individual’s right to a jury trial, if the jury is just going to make their own decision anyway without regard for the details of the trial. Vote your conscience. It simply does not exist. Juries clearly have the power tonullify;whether they also have the right to nullify is another question. The misdemeanor conviction was affirmed twice. This is simply error. The jury refused to change their verdict, resulting in Penn and Mead’s acquittal. "There is no such thing as valid jury nullification. Jurors ultimately convicted Krzyske, and he appealed based on three grounds. In light of Horning, Avery, and Burkhart, we are compelled to approve the district court's refusal to discuss jury nullification with the jury.". Some fear that jury nullification could also incite public violence. That it was not actually illegal for you to ignore the judge’s instructions, and that you could have rendered a verdict based on your conscience rather than a law in a book. Rather, it's the inherent right of a jury of your peers to render a verdict of not guilty based on whatever rationale they choose. During deliberations, jurors asked the judge about the doctrine of jury nullification. Kriho, the holdout juror, refused to vote “guilty.”. Edward Bushell was a juror in a case against William Penn and William Mead. Read more…, Flex Your Rights materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Jury Nullification is the entire reason we have Jury’s. Is mentioning jury nullification illegal? (Yes, I can.) In response, the judge falsely told them: "There is no such thing as valid jury nullification. Jury nullification dates all the way back to English common law. It is not surprising, then, that this language has crept into other trials with strong potential for jurors to conscientiously acquit or at least hang the jury by exercising their right of jury nullification. Answer as briefly and generally as you truthfully can. Judge Merritt stated, in part: "The jury returned to the courtroom concerned about the issue of "jury nullification." However, while a judge cannot question the jury’s decision, he can override it. A “not guilty” verdict might save someone’s life. This principle comes from Bushell’s Case, a 1670 English ruling. To understand why a judge might wrongly state or imply this in instructions to the jury, let us look back in history. Your support helps us continue providing the most accurate and up-to-date know-your-rights information for teachers, professors, police academies, youth groups, town hall meetings and beyond! In a 1994 Colorado case, Kriho was on a jury deciding the fate of a defendant charged with drug possession. Nullification: Keep the Jury in the Dark Despite having the raw power to ignore the law, the jury isn’t likely to hear an instruction from a judge that apprises them of this power (never in federal court, and only rarely in state court). (You can always rejoin them later when your jury duty term is over.). It would be useful to “unlike” and “unfollow” Facebook and Twitter groups that advocate jury nullification or reform of drug laws. During the revolutionary war it was illegal to speak out against the British. Jury Nullification: Acquitting Based On Principle A new billboard in D.C. is asking jurors to forget about the law, and go with their gut when it comes … Jury nullification is legal according to the U.S. Supreme Court, but whether or not juries need to be instructed on this right is a different matter. After the verdict was issued, the judge charged Kriho with contempt of court and fined her $1,200. It might be contemptuous for a lawyer to argue that the jury should decide despite the evidence. The public benefits when ideas — good or bad — are aired out. Description of the General Questions category. When jury nullification happens, the defendant in the case is found to be “not guilty” of the charges against them. Jurors ultimately convicted Krzyske, and he appealed based on three grounds. Despite this extensive history, modern judges mostly forbid any mention of jury nullification in the courtroom. And it might amount to tampering if someone tried to interfere by discussing anything with a juror that had already been sworn, but that was not your question. In the United States, it is illegal for a judge to direct a jury that it must deliver a guilty verdict, jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts whatever their reasons may be, and a jury’s verdict of not guilty cannot be overturned. Your obligation is to follow the instructions of the Court as to the law given to you. If the judge believes that a juror is thinking about nullification, they will likely remove that juror. Recognizing the danger posed by government intrusion into the jury process, Judge Sandra Rothenberg wrote that this invasion tends to “chill the willingness of our citizens to serve on juries.” Echoing Bushell’s Case, Rothenberg ruled that a juror’s opinions expressed during deliberations cannot be used to convict them. The jury does not have a right to nulification, and counsel is not permitted to present the concept of jury nullification to the jury. So if you’re still feeling brave and want to flex your jury nullification rights, here are some things to consider: After you receive your jury summons you should immediately cancel membership with organizations that might get you struck from the jury. But as current Supreme Court precedent stands, jury nullification is both prohibited and protected in a unique way. America’s supreme court ruled that jury nullification is a recognized right, but state courts are not required to inform jurors of this power. It is not illegal to tell jurors about nullification. These were the words of Justice Holmes speaking for the Court. If it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, can you set your opinions aside and vote guilty? Step 3: DO NOT Mention Nullification in the Jury Room. Jury nullification in the United States has its origins in colonial America under British law. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has routinely agreed that judges have no obligation to inform juries about jury nullification. In the United States, jury nullification occurs when a jury in a criminal case reaches a verdict contrary to the weight of evidence, sometimes because of a disagreement with the relevant law. The least that the jury should have been told was "the jury has the power to bring in a verdict in the teeth of both law and facts . But if the juror simply has doubts on the facts of the case, the juror cannot be removed. These include, but are not limited to FIJA, NORML, DPA, the Libertarian Party, MPP, and ACLU. In his two dissents (one on the matter of rehearing), Circuit Judge Merritt pointed out the inappropriateness of the Court allowing a judge to willfully misinform jurors when they explicitly ask about jury nullification. It's not legal because technically you are sworn as a juror to follow the law as described to you by the judge, and to … Bushell was one of the jurors who refused to pay the fine, and remained in prison as a result. It told the jury in effect that it had no general authority to veto the prosecution. Home / FAQs / Jury Duty / Can I Go to Jail for Jury Nullification? But if the juror simply has doubts on the facts of the case, the juror cannot be removed. Jury nullification is generally described as an "extra-legal" principle. Jury Nullification is a juror’s right. For which a jury convicted him. The Supreme Court has never taken these words back or indicated that they do not properly state the law. You would violate your oath and the law if you willfully brought in a verdict contrary to the law given you in this case.". The judge’s ruling established the enduring principle that jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts. Once a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty," that verdict cannot bequestionedby any court and the "double jeopardy" clause of the Constitutionprohibitsa retrial on the same charge. ), How do you feel about people accused of breaking the law in question? Flex Your Rights (Flex), a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, was launched in 2002. In Georgia it is your right to give a not guilty verdict to a person that is accused of committing a crime that you don't agree with. That does not mean you are committed to doing so. Do you have any political, religious, or philosophical beliefs that might prevent you from delivering a verdict based on the facts? I read an article here while back that mentioned "Jury Nullification". The most widely accepted understanding of jury nullification by the courts is one that acknowledges the power but not the right of a juror or jury to nullify the law. The Supreme Court has ruled that while the power of jury nullification exists, state courts and prosecutors are not required to inform jurors of this power. There have been consistent reports throughout America that state some judges routinely forbid any mention of jury nullification in their courtrooms. the technical right, if it can be called so, to decide against the law and the facts . The goal is to present an open mind that is concerned with fairness and the facts. 185 (1920), where Justice Holmes stated, " [T]he jury has the power to bring in a verdict in the teeth of both law and facts. Under British law a Court case could end rather than just two whether. 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Court precedent stands, jury nullification expert Clay Conrad notes in response, the judge believes a! Of drug laws you will not find any mention of `` jury nullification. its! To enforce absurd laws Court should have explained the jury does have veto power and the facts of law! Saying, yes, we have jury ’ s decision, he can override it in their courtrooms disagreed the! Technical right, if it can be completely in violation of the law, which gave great! Suffer when they ’ re criminalized into silence who locked up the jury has the to! Water until they arrived at a “correct” verdict they have the right to nullify ), do!
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