Re: LAW: Re: Jury Nullification
Sun, 13 Jul 1997 10:08:38 -0400 (EDT)

I've always had mixed feelings about jury nullification. Jefferson was
surely right that jury nullification is one final bulwark against tyranny,
but on the other hand, few things can compare to the injustice that can be
doled out by a jury gone wrong in contradiction to the law and the facts.
I'm especially guarded about the system we have in which 12 "average" people
are asked to consider highly technical matters in complex commercial cases or
cases in which scientific evidence plays a key role.

The jury system developed in an environment in which there really weren't any
truly complex cases:Twelve average folks can surely determine as well as any
judge whether John skewered Robert with his broadsword or whether Henry
defrauded Jane out of her herd of sheep. But when asked to consider whether
security interests were perfected in thousands of lending transactions
involving as many documents, or whether the DNA evidence raises a high enough
statistical probability of guilt to support a murder conviction (hmmmm) . . .
we sometimes see some pretty unjust results from juries of "laymen".
Consider that the crucial evidence in a modern case may involve technical
issues about which experts who have invested years of their lives studying
may disagree, and that a jury is asked to make a decision based on at most a
few weeks of testimony. Then consider that our jury selection rules will
often result in the empaneling of the LEAST qualified set of people that can
be selected . . .

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
-- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover