Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 07 Feb 2014

-Guilty on Lesser-Included Charges Can Be a Form of Jury Nullification


Jury BoxA group of activists known as the NATO 3, after facing 40 years in prison each for a largely government-manufactured plot, have now been acquitted by jurors of the more serious terrorism charges levied against them by prosecutors in the first use of several of Illinois’ version of the USA PATRIOT Act, hastily-passed after 9/11. Attorneys for the defendants say the three young men were goaded into illegal actions by undercover police posing as activists, with prosecutors overzealously charging them for politically-motivated purposes. Six other activists arrested at the same time were charged with no crimes whatsoever. They were found guilty of lesser-included charges, as provided for in the highly-debated instructions to the jury. Prosecutors argued against informing the jury of ANY lesser-included charges in the jury instructions, saying such information would take power away from the grand jury and prosecutors.

One way jurors may exercise jury nullification power is by conscientiously acquitting defendants of more serious offenses, even if they believe they have technically been committed, and instead convicting on lesser-included charges if they believe some penalty is warranted. Eliminating lesser-included charges from jury instructions may be a tactic on the part of prosecutors to goad jurors into unjustly convicting on overzealous charges when they believe some form of punishment is warranted. They are then forced to make a choice between punishing defendants far beyond justice when prosecutors maliciously overcharge, even if they believe the defendants to be Not Guilty of such a serious charge, or letting them off the hook altogether. Lesser-included charges DO take power away from vindictive prosecutors and rubber stamp grand juries, giving jurors the ability to deliver verdicts that lead to punishments that more justly fit the crimes committed.

NATO 3 acquitted of terrorism charges, convicted of mob, arson charges

Three out-of-town activists called the NATO 3 were convicted Friday of mob and arson charges but found innocent of all terrorism charges.

In a rebuke of the central theme of the prosecution’s case, a Cook County jury delivered its verdict on the men just after 4 p.m. Friday.

But attorneys for the men called the jury’s mixed decision “a tremendous victory.”

“We said from the beginning when these defendants were arrested they should not have been charged as terrorism and that there was a political motivation here. They wanted to justify all the money they spent on NATO and security,” said Michael Deutsch, the attorney for Church.

Deutsch said the verdict is a victory for the three defendants and also for all protesters.

He said Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez must answer why the three were charged with terrorism: “Anita Alvarez should be made to be held accountable for the politically motivated charges.”