You lose some, you win some (2)

June 29, 2012

Here’s an interesting article about jury nullification, prompted by a new law in New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state. (Is that the best state motto or what?)

Jury nullification, like many things, is a two-edged sword. My guess is that O.J. Simpson’s acquittal for the murder of his wife was a case of jury empathy — the flip side of white juries in the Deep South which refused to convict those who assaulted or murdered blacks.

But on the whole, I think it’s good for juries to keep their options in mind. They can judge the law and its application as well as the case against the accused people.

Jury Nullification Law Signed by New Hampshire Governor

June 27, 2012 @ 4:27 PM by Tim Lynch

With all the buzz and anticipation surrounding the final rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court the past week, there has been little attention to an interesting legal development in New Hampshire: On June 18, Governor John Lynch (no relation) signed HB 146 into law and it becomes effective on January 1, 2013. HB 146 concerns “the right of a jury to judge the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy.” It’s popularly known as “the jury nullification bill.” In this post, I will try to explain what impact this new law may have in the New Hampshire courts.

By way of background, Cato co-published the most comprehensive book on this subject back in 1998, Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine by Clay Conrad. So pick that up if you’re interested in the full legal and historical treatment. If you’re not ready for the book, do check out this book review by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds.

For purposes of this post, I am going to sidestep the question of whether or not jury nullification is a good idea. My purpose is not to “make the case for HB 146.” Rather, my purpose is to briefly explain what jury nullification is, provide a very brief history of the law on that subject, and, finally, explain how the recently enacted statute in New Hampshire may alter existing law and practices there.

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