Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 13 Aug 2014

-Questions for Judicial Candidates about Jury Nullification and Jurors’ Rights


GavelIconWe recently had an inquiry from someone with 3 judges up for election in his area. He asked if we had any suggestions for hard-hitting questions to see if the candidates love liberty and the Constitution. FIJA co-founder and board member Don Doig provided the following response, which we share here for anyone else who is interested in quizzing their local candidates about jury nullification and related court issues. This is shared for educational purposes only; FIJA National do not endorse or oppose any political candidate or party.

Don Doig replies:

Here are some questions, prefaced by an introductory statement.

Justice Goodloe said,

According to the doctrine of jury nullification, jurors have the inherent right to set aside the instructions of the judge and to reach a verdict of acquittal based upon their own consciences. As abolitionist lawyer Lysander Spooner explained the doctrine in Trial By Jury in 1852, page one:
“For more than six hundred years – that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 – there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.”

For a history by Justice William C. Goodloe, see Jury Nullification: Empowering the Jury as the Fourth Branch of Government (.doc).

“It is not only his right [the juror’s], but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience even though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
-John Adams, first proponent of the Declaration of Independence and Second President, 1771
2 Life And Works of John Adams 253-255 (C.F. Adams ed. 1856)

Do you agree that jurors have the right to vote their conscience?

Would you be willing to tell the jury that while you will explain to them what the law is, nevertheless they have the right to vote not guilty regardless of the evidence?

Would you be willing to allow the defense to argue to the jury that they may vote according to their conscience?

Would you be willing to allow the defense to argue against the merits of the law?

Should the defense be allowed to present whatever evidence they want to the jury?

Should the prosecutor be required to give the defense access to any exculpatory evidence?

Should the jury be told what sentence the defendant will face if convicted?

Will you or do you seek to eliminate jurors from the pool based on their understanding of jury nullification?

Will you or do you tell jurors that they must follow the law as you explain it?