Jury Summons

Jury Summons

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jury Nullification: The Hidden Jury Right

This important right held by the jury has rarely been used throughout history; this may be due to the fact that judges are not required to inform the jury of their right to nullify. Most juries do not know that they have the right to “invalidate the law as it applies to the specific case over which it is presiding and find a defendant not guilty even if he has committed the infraction for which he is standing trial.”
Although this fear may be a valid one, it should not be a reason to conceal this right from the jury. The jury has the right to know what exactly they can do and decide during a case. If the jury is not informed that they have the right to nullify, then they may reach an erroneous decision. If the jury reaches an erroneous decision based on ignorance of the justice system, this in turn also does not help our democracy or society as a whole. This in fact may actually be more dangerous to society than simply informing the jury of their right to nullify.
As a general complaint, potential jurors complain they are uncomfortable serving on a jury because they are unfamiliar with the process. If the court system were to be more transparent and fully explain to jurors all of their rights and duties during jury duty, then this may ease jurors’ minds and make them feel more comfortable with the process and serving in general. Of course, there is always the chance that a jury may take advantage of the right to nullify, but it has been found that juries tend to take their job very seriously and try to follow the law to the best of their ability. It can be argued that by informing the jury of their right to nullify will only enhance the system so that the jury can more accurately preform their duty.

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