Saturday, June 30, 2012

jury nullification, a good and necessary practice

Radley Balko on jury nullification:

We have a much more complicated, vague, and confusing criminal code now. A huge percentage the felonies prosecuted today are for consensual crimes. Conspiracy, racketeering, and money laundering laws enable prosecutors to take multiple bites from the same apple, from multiple angles. That improves the odds of winning a conviction on something. And that of course gives them another tool—the power to pile on charges in order to force a plea agreement. Which means that in 90+ percent of the felony convictions in America today, the government never needs to bother proving its case. 
Jury nullification more important than its ever been. And the power is still there. There’s little a judge can do about a jury that returns an acquittal based on their assessment of the justness of the law, rather than the facts of the case before them. But as regular readers of this site are well aware by now, prosecutors and judges screen any prospective juror who has even heard of the term.
Juries have the responsibility to refuse to convict when the law itself is bad. Do juries know that? Nope, and there is no way for the defense attorney to tell them that directly.

The recently passed New Hampshire law is a huge advance in this cause.

No comments: