Thursday, August 23, 2012

new hampshire has new law on jury nullification

New Hampshire's governor signed a law that recognizes the right of a jury to decide whether a law is applied justly.
"[A] Right of Accused. In all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy."
This is important.

A friend once told me that when he served on a jury, he knew the defendant was really blameless but my friend said he had to decide based on the facts of the case. Not true of course, but jurors do not know this. The judge won't tell them, the prosecution certainly won't tell them, and the defense is forbidden to tell them. However, jurors always have the right--the responsibility--to decide that the law is not just in the case before them.

Now, in New Hampshire, the defense IS allowed to tell the jury about jury nullification.
I have the feeling this New Hampshire law will end up having a tremendous effect on the American judicial system as a whole. If enough people start nullifying drug laws in New Hampshire, eventually New Hampshire prosecutors will be forced to stop prosecuting drug offenses in that state entirely. In 2010, a Montana case never even made it to trial because prosecutors could not find enough people who would be willing to convict a person based on drug charges. 
Let's hope that's the way it works out.

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