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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 23 Apr 2016

-New Hampshire HB 1270: Is It a Jury Nullification Bill?

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FIJA National does not endorse or oppose any piece of legislation. The following is provided for informational and educational purposes only.

In recent weeks, New Hampshire’s HB 1270 has been the subject of much discussion, usually referred to in public discourse as a jury nullification bill (as was its 2012 predecessor). HB 1270 passed the New Hampshire House some weeks ago, and just had a hearing in the Senate this past week. A recording of the hearing is linked here.

Interestingly, its proponents were anywhere from seemingly reluctant to describe it as a jury nullification bill to outright adamant that it is NOT a jury nullification bill. Recall that the NH Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the 2012 bill previously described as a jury nullification bill was not a jury nullification bill after all, effectively nullifying it, with the state arguing that the intent of the legislature had not been to pass a jury nullification bill.

A couple of choice quotes from the hearing:
Representative Rowe (in support of the bill):
“This bill is absolutely not jury nullification. If it was jury nullification, I assure you it would have NOT made it to our committee. If this bill, in my opinion, changes… changed the Wentworth instruction, I would not have voted for it.”

Representative Berch (opposed to the bill and to jury nullification):
“The purpose of a criminal trial is not to do justice. The purpose of criminal trial is to see if the state has proven a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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