Post by fuglyville on Jun 29, 2016 18:04:18 GMT -6
A jury has - in the U.S., at least - a given right to find a defendant not guilty, even if they find guilt proven beyond reasonable doubt. But: They're not informed about this and the judge has no duty to let them know. How is this not a bigger issue?
Not sure what you're talking about. Could you say more?
I forgot this - mea culpa. Wikipedia describes jury nullification in the US as: "Jury nullification in the United States has its origins in colonial British America. Similar to British law, 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 American jury draws its power of nullification from its right to render a general verdict in criminal trials, the inability of criminal courts to direct a verdict no matter how strong the evidence, the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause, which prohibits the appeal of an acquittal, and the fact that jurors can never be punished for the verdict they return."
This opinion piece from the N.Y. Times shows what the problem is:
IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.
The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.
Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Julian P. Heicklen, a retired chemistry professor, with jury tampering because he stood outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan providing information about jury nullification to passers-by. Given that I have been recommending nullification for nonviolent drug cases since 1995 — in such forums as The Yale Law Journal, “60 Minutes” and YouTube — I guess I, too, have committed a crime.
The prosecutors who charged Mr. Heicklen said that “advocacy of jury nullification, directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.” The prosecutors in this case are wrong. The First Amendment exists to protect speech like this — honest information that the government prefers citizens not know.
Laws against jury tampering are intended to deter people from threatening or intimidating jurors. To contort these laws to justify punishing Mr. Heicklen, whose court-appointed counsel describe him as “a shabby old man distributing his silly leaflets from the sidewalk outside a courthouse,” is not only unconstitutional but unpatriotic. Jury nullification is not new; its proponents have included John Hancock and John Adams.
The doctrine is premised on the idea that ordinary citizens, not government officials, should have the final say as to whether a person should be punished. As Adams put it, it is each juror’s “duty” to vote based on his or her “own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
In 1895, the Supreme Court ruled that jurors had no right, during trials, to be told about nullification. The court did not say that jurors didn’t have the power, or that they couldn’t be told about it, but only that judges were not required to instruct them on it during a trial. Since then, it’s been up to scholars like me, and activists like Mr. Heicklen, to get the word out.
Nullification has been credited with helping to end alcohol prohibition and laws that criminalized gay sex. Last year, Montana prosecutors were forced to offer a defendant in a marijuana case a favorable plea bargain after so many potential jurors said they would nullify that the judge didn’t think he could find enough jurors to hear the case. (Prosecutors now say they will remember the actions of those jurors when they consider whether to charge other people with marijuana crimes.)
There have been unfortunate instances of nullification. Racist juries in the South, for example, refused to convict people who committed violent acts against civil-rights activists, and nullification has been used in cases involving the use of excessive force by the police. But nullification is like any other democratic power; some people may try to misuse it, but that does not mean it should be taken away from everyone else.
How one feels about jury nullification ultimately depends on how much confidence one has in the jury system. Based on my experience, I trust jurors a lot. I first became interested in nullification when I prosecuted low-level drug crimes in Washington in 1990. Jurors here, who were predominantly African-American, nullified regularly because they were concerned about racially selective enforcement of the law.
Across the country, crime has fallen, but incarceration rates remain at near record levels. Last year, the New York City police made 50,000 arrests just for marijuana possession. Because prosecutors have discretion over whether to charge a suspect, and for what offense, they have more power than judges over the outcome of a case. They tend to throw the book at defendants, to compel them to plead guilty in return for less harsh sentences. In some jurisdictions, like Washington, prosecutors have responded to jurors who are fed up with their draconian tactics by lobbying lawmakers to take away the right to a jury trial in drug cases. That is precisely the kind of power grab that the Constitution’s framers were so concerned about.
In October, the Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, asked at a Senate hearing about the role of juries in checking governmental power, seemed open to the notion that jurors “can ignore the law” if the law “is producing a terrible result.” He added: “I’m a big fan of the jury.” I’m a big fan, too. I would respectfully suggest that if the prosecutors in New York bring fair cases, they won’t have to worry about jury nullification. Dropping the case against Mr. Heicklen would let citizens know that they are as committed to justice, and to free speech, as they are to locking people up.
Tracy: Not losing interest,,,just busy with life. :-)
Sept 23, 2016 8:25:16 GMT -6
Potassium_Pixie: I fear what this means for Capital Punishment if most forums are circling the drain.
Sept 24, 2016 23:32:30 GMT -6
fuglyville: With 39, 35 and 28 executions for the last 3 years the DP trend is looking pretty good. If it continues this way, we may actually see the DP come to an end in a few years. Fear not, there's always other things to fight for.
Sept 27, 2016 11:40:11 GMT -6
Potassium_Pixie: Donald Trump is president. I hope he supports the DP and does whatever he can to keep it alive.
Nov 9, 2016 16:25:34 GMT -6
fuglyville: I hope the death penalty system dies peacefully as soon as possible, with or without his consent. The tide is definitely turning against it, but it needs to end - and it should have ended years ago.
Nov 23, 2016 18:08:49 GMT -6
whitediamonds: The DP is used criminally against innocents of society far too long & too many. They suffered death, not by peaceful means or methods. The DP needs as already stated to be kept alive.
Dec 30, 2016 10:58:11 GMT -6
starbux: @potassium_Pixie Hopefully DT will sign the death warrants for several inmates who have been waiting to get their needle
Mar 4, 2017 13:41:58 GMT -6
nykkic: I think I'm still opposed to the DP .. but at the same time I can see why it might be necessary for certain crimes.. I don't have to like it but I've come to respect it
Jun 7, 2017 15:35:38 GMT -6
john - uk: Merry Christmas everyone
Dec 22, 2017 7:17:56 GMT -6
arizonavet: It (the death penalty) has saved many lives of innocent people nykkic.
Apr 15, 2018 15:59:55 GMT -6
donji: If murderers would agree to murder humanly maybe we could work something out! If with malice and forethought you take a life you should forfit your life.
Aug 30, 2018 19:05:34 GMT -6
donji: Did he say the family of mr. trump!
Aug 30, 2018 19:07:34 GMT -6
donji: Saw the whole video i'm assuming the anti dp folks wanted to dramatize,and overstress the poor muderers pain.The only queston should be was the sentence carried out?
Aug 30, 2018 19:13:31 GMT -6