Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification | 16 Jan 2013

-Iowa State Jury Rights Bill

Share

While FIJA national does not support or oppose any piece of legislation, we do track legislation that is relevant to our educational mission. We have word from FIJA State Contact Dell Lawrence that a Jury Rights Bill will be introduced in the Iowa legislature this session. It has sponsors in both the Iowa House and Senate. The text of the bill as proposed is as follows:

An Act relating to jurors judging the law as well as finding the facts in a trial.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

Section 1. NEW SECTION. 624.39 Jury right to judge law.
1. In all cases where the state or a political subdivision of the state is the plaintiff, the rights of the defendant include the right to inform the jury of the jury’s right to judge the law as well as be finders of fact, and to render a verdict based upon conscience.
2.
a. The right of the jury to judge the law and to render a verdict based upon conscience in subsection 1 is absolute and shall not be limited by the rules of civil or criminal procedure, the juror’s oath, a court order, or a procedure or practice of the court.
b. A method or procedure shall not be used to exclude or limit the empanelment of a juror willing to exercise the right of a juror to judge the law and to render a verdict based upon conscience.
3. After a jury has been informed of the right to judge the law and to render a verdict based upon conscience, a party shall not be prohibited from presenting arguments to the jury which relate to issues of the law and conscience, including but not limited to the following:
a. The merit, intent, constitutionality, or applicability of the law in the case.
b. The motive, moral perspective, or circumstances of the defendant.
c. The degree and direction of guilt or actual harm done in the case.
d. The punishment, penalty, or other sanction that may be applied to the losing party.
4. It shall be grounds for a mistrial if the court prohibits a party from informing the jury about the right of the jury to judge the law and to render a verdict based upon conscience, to prohibit arguments appealing to conscience as provided in subsection 3, or to instruct a jury to not act as judges of the law.
EXPLANATION
This bill relates to jurors judging the law as well as acting as finders of fact in a trial.

The bill provides that in cases where the state or a political subdivision of the state is the plaintiff, the rights of the defendant include the right to inform the jury to judge the law as well as be finders of fact, and to render a verdict based upon the law and conscience.

The bill establishes the right of the jury to be absolute and not to be limited by the rules of civil or criminal procedure, the juror’s oath, a court order, or a procedure or practice of the court.

The bill prohibits the use of a method or procedure to exclude or limit the empanelment of a juror willing to exercise the right to judge the law.

Under the bill, a party may present evidence relating to the merit, intent, constitutionality, or applicability of the law in a case; the motive, moral perspective, or circumstances of the defendant; the degree and direction of guilt or actual harm done in the case; and the punishment or sanction which may be applied to the losing party in the case.
Under the bill, it is grounds for a mistrial if the court prohibits a party from informing the jury about the right of the jury to judge the law, to prohibit arguments appealing to conscience as provided in subsection 3, or to instruct a jury to not act as judges of the law.

The House version of the bill is numbered HF 542 and the Senate version is numbered SF 318.

Share