Friday, April 20, 2012

Court dismisses case against proponent of jury nullification

In a couple of weeks I will be discussing the concept of jury nullification in my Professional Responsibility class, so I thought I would link to this story reported today.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood (of the Federal District Court in Manhattan) has dismissed a claim against a retired chemistry professor who was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for repeatedly handing out pamphlets to people outside a lower Manhattan courthouse urging jury nullification.   Go here and here for more on this story.

Jury nullification, of course, refers to the right of a jury to disregard the law when making a decision.  As judge Wood emphasized, an individual should not be penalized for expressing his or her approval of jury nullification, but I think there is still some debate as to whether it would be improper for an attorney (during a trial) to remind the jury of its right to nullify, let alone ask, encourage or urge the jurors to do it.

There is a lot of literature out there on this subject and there are a number of organizations that support the concept.  Go here and here for two examples.

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