Fully Informed Jury Association

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 25 Sep 2012

Lawyers: ‘Nullify’ to be common refrain in criminal court cases

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Lawyers: ‘Nullify’ to be common refrain in criminal court cases

Criminal defense attorneys predict New Hampshire jurors routinely will be told they have the right to find someone innocent even if the state proves its case because New Hampshire has passed what appears to be the nation’s first “jury nullification” law.

Earlier this month, a Belknap County Superior Court jury found a Barnstead man innocent of felony drug charges after the judge instructed jurors they could decide that acquittal was “a fair result,” even if the state had met the burden of proof.

Chuck Temple is a professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where he is director of the criminal practice clinic. In his 27 years of practice, he said, he has always asked judges to instruct juries about nullification — but has never had a judge do so.

Temple said the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, “changes the landscape of how criminal cases will be argued.”

Before, he said, “in the vast majority of criminal cases, there would be no arguments regarding jury nullification. … Now, it’s going to be an everyday occurrence in criminal jury trials.”

Dick Marple, a former Republican representative from Hooksett, is the state contact for the Fully Informed Jury Association, which promotes jury nullification.

Marple said New Hampshire is the first state to pass such a statute, a step he sees as “restoring a little justice to the system.”

“Because the jury is the conscience of the community,” he said.

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