Double-Edged Sword or Shield?

I can see how jury power can protect some people from injustice, but isn't telling people about their power really a double edged sword?

A:

Jury power is not a sword. It is a shield against the sword of government.

It is possible for a jury to err by letting someone go free who deserves to have the sword of government used on them. But, our criminal justice system was designed on the belief that it is better to let some criminals go free than it is to jail the innocent.

Commitment to restoring the jury system to the way the framers envisioned by informing jurors of their power to acquit based on conscience is a commitment to a process of law, not necessarily to any predetermined outcome. It may be that some laws which you think are right and proper will not be supported by enough of the community to achieve convictions from fully informed juries.

Commitment to jury power is putting trust in the citizens of your community that they will do what is right more often than not. Jury independence is a profoundly democratic institution in that it puts power in the hands of the people. It is a republican institution in that it protects individual, natural rights.

The alternative to putting your trust in the citizens is to trust the elite who control the government to always act in the interest of the people.  Our system was designed to put the people - not the elites - in charge.  Jury nullification is an important tool toward that end.

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  • Tom Glass
    published this page in FAQs 2021-02-18 16:53:26 -0600