Re: LAW: Re: Jury Nullification

Chris Hibbert (
Mon, 14 Jul 97 16:27:42 -0700

Robin Hanson wrote:

>> Btw, I was on jury duty a few weeks ago and the judge explicitly
>> mentioned nullification, explained its meaning, and then asked if
>> anyone had problems with ignoring that idea. None did. Either most
>> people lie about this, or there really isn't much public support for
>> the idea.

Fascinating. Did you know what the case was about at the time of the
question? (I probably wouldn't consider attempting nullification for
a violent crime, and I wouldn't admit my willingness to the judge
pre-trial for a drug "crime".)

The last time I was in a jury pool, we already knew that it was a
violent rape case before I was dismissed (at the first opportunity
after I answered questions individually). The judge was taking great
pains to make sure that the jurors would be able to look a bloody
pictures without losing it.

I've apparently established a reputation for being an expert on jury
nullification, since my friends often come to me for advice when
they've been called for Jury Duty. About half of them ask me for help
with the intent of finding out how to get out of Jury duty.

I, on the other hand, think of Jury duty not as something the state
wants to coerce me into doing (though it clearly does.) Rather than a
responsibilty, I consider it to be a right. It's one of the few
opportunities a citizen in this country has to directly overrule the
government. It's also the only thing I can do to help ensure that
there are some reasonable people in the jury pool. If all
libertarians, and all educated folk do their best to get out of jury
duty, there'll be no one to listen critically to the prosecutor's
testimony when I am falsely accused, or when I'm truly accused of some
illegal behavior that shouldn't be a crime.