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Jury Nullification | 13 Jan 2014

-NH HB 1452: An Act Relative to Jury Nullification

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Jury BoxFIJA National does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or piece of legislation. We do, however, track for informational and educational purposes legislation regarding jury issues.

Michael Sylvia and Keith Michael report that as the 2014 legislative session kicks of in New Hampshire, there is a new jury nullification bill on the table in New Hampshire. HB 1452, introduced on 8 January 2014, is an act relative to jury nullification that “requires the court to give an instruction to the jury regarding jury nullification and requires the court to declare a mistrial if the instruction is not given to the jury.” Its full text is available on the New Hampshire state website here. The main provisions of this bill are as follows:

I. The court shall give the following instruction to the jury in all criminal proceedings: “The concept of jury nullification is well established in this country. If the jury feels that the law under which the defendant is accused is unjust, or that exigent circumstances justified the actions of the accused, or for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion, the jury has the power to acquit, and the courts must abide by that decision.”

II. A mistrial shall be declared in any case in which the court fails to give the jury instruction provided in paragraph I.

The New Hampshire bill status system as of this writing lists its status as in the Judiciary Committee, with a hearing scheduled for Thursday 16 January 2014 at 1:00 pm, located in LOB 208.

Those who have been following the status of jury nullification in New Hampshire may recall that related jury legislation was passed in 2012 that took effect in 2013. That legislation required that in all criminal proceedings the court permit the defense to inform the jurors of their right to judge the facts and the application of the law. This legislation, in contrast, imposes an instruction on the court relative to jury instructions in all criminal proceedings.

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