Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification | 01 Jul 2013

-“Full Circle” Jury Nullification Short Film

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Thanks to David Snellings who alerts us to this entry in the “Operation Paul Revere” film contest. A defendant is charged with a “crime” for the legal offense of growing a garden instead of a lawn in his front yard- a situation that is quickly becoming more and more common. We definitely appreciate that someone is using this an opportunity to educate people about jury nullification! The film does an excellent job of showing how we, in the process of protecting a defendant’s rights and educating others about jury nullification, protect our own rights in the process.

However, there are several elements that are unlikely to play out in a real life situation. The most unlikely element is that a juror who argues jury nullification as openly as several jurors do in the trials in this film would very likely be removed from the jury before he or she can nullify. Other jurors on a panel may tattle to the judge on a juror who they deem not to be deliberating. Once a judge gets wind of a the notion of jury nullification being considered by a jury, that is very likely to be squashed almost immediately. Legal precedent allows a judge to remove a juror from deliberations who expresses an intent to nullify, which the juror in the film clearly does. (A judge may also remove, and even punish, a juror for doing outside research as the holdout juror in the second trial suggests other jurors do.) Jurors are not, however, required to give a reason for their vote, and judges may not remove jurors for expressing doubts about a defendant’s guilt. It is MUCH safer to simply keep quiet about the reason for your vote, or say something general like, “I simply cannot find this defendant guilty of a crime.” Remember, if there is NO VICTIM, there is NO CRIME.

Jurors are also generally kept in the dark about the ultimate penalty for which a defendant is at risk. Except in capital cases where a “death-qualified” jury is selected, jurors discouraged from taking the punishment into account. They will not be told how much punishment the defendant is looking at if he is convicted. While jurors may NOT be punished for their verdicts, jurors who do outside research on possible sentences, or on jury nullification as one of the jurors suggests they do, may not only be removed from the panel, but they may also be held in contempt of court and punished for that.

Remember, you cannot nullify if you are no longer on the jury. Protect your ability to vote Not Guilty by avoiding any of these moves which could result in your removal from the jury. A hung jury is MUCH better for a defendant than the Guilty verdict he would receive in your absence.

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