“It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” This is what John Adams said of jury nullification. John Jay, who was the first justice of the Supreme Court said, “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” So what is jury nullification and how does it influence courtroom proceedings and judicial practices?
The definition of jury nullification according to thefreedictionary.com website jury nullification is defined as a sanctioned doctrine wherein members of a jury disregard either the evidence presented or the instructions of the judge in order to reach a verdict based upon their own consciences. It espouses the concept that jurors should be the judges of both law and fact. The doctrine of jury nullification is based one important things, one that a juror can never be punished for the verdict they bring back to the judge, and second that a defendant cannot ever be retried once the jury has returned to the courtroom with a not guilty verdict.
The first case of jury nullification in British law dates back to 1670 in trial of William Mead and William Penn, (William Penn would later go on to be the founder of the Province of Pennsylvania) these two men were charged in England for unlawful assembly, which was a law that was aimed at preventing different religious groups that were not noticed by the crown from worshipping. Both of these men were clearly guilty of breaking the law according to British law and the judge presiding over the case demanded that the jury find William Mean and William Penn guilty, but the jury refused to find these two men guilty because they felt that the law itself Jury Nullification
Was unjust. The judge continued to insist that the...