Based on research and statistics, there are a number of law makers and citizens who are against raced based jury nullification. Some black lawmakers have said that since a jury is representative of a community then jurors should have the right to decide which people they will allow to live among them. (Butler, 1995) This basically means that jurors exercise their power based on conscience and not based on the facts of the case.
This means that black juries would acquit non-violent black defendants even in cases where they were clearly guilty to nullify the effects of a predominantly white judicial system. The belief here is that the laws are inherently unfair because they were created by and for white people. (Butler, 1995) Clearly there is a place for jury nullification in the US. There has been a long history of unfair laws and practices in the country and allowing the jury the power to overturn or nullify them is a good way to keep the government in check. Jones, 2004), but many still are against the concept. The real question is more about race-based nullification. Should race be a factor when juries consider nullification as an option? The answer to this is complicated if a jury really feels that a defendant was targeted unfairly based on race shouldn’t they have some power to affect the trial. (Butler, 1995) Also without a complete revamping of the legal system how would one go about fixing the problem? Can nullification be eliminated with our current system, probably not.
Law makers and groups who are against this feel that the concept is no longer being used for what it was originally intended for and there are individuals that are guilty who are being set free back into our communities. The idea is to really re-examine the selection process. With nullification as a real possibility then prosecutors can act to eliminate it by paying more attention to homogeneity during the selection process. Any prosecutor who allows a homogenous jury runs a real risk of losing the case based on nullification.
Also race based jury nullification has been a useful tool in the past. (Jones, 2004) If not for northern juries how many runaway slaves would have been returned to torture and beatings in the south. In this case we had a manifestly unfair law which juries exercised a legitimate nullification against, but some feel that we are in a different time and place in our countr and that the entire thing should be re-looked at and revamped. Overall race based jury nullification is a scary prospect when taken to the extreme but it is a prospect that bears ome consideration. Since it has been used righteously in the past it is a hard decision to contemplate getting rid of it. If there was no jury nullification of any kind then the country would have missed out on juries taking a stand against poorly thought out laws. The answer is that jury nullification has played a dual roll in our history. At times it is a useful tool as in the cases involving slavery or differential prosecution, at times allowing racists to go free.
So having weighed the merits of the situation it is best left as is currently. There is a real risk for overuse if everyone were aware of the power but in its absence the government would exercise too much power unbalanced by the power of the people. Butler, Paul. (1998). Racially Based Jury Nullification: Black Power in the Criminal Justice System. Yale Law Review, 105, 677-725. Jones Iloilo Marguerite. (2004). American Juror. Retrieved on 11/21/04 from http://www. fffija. org
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