Jury rights outreach – Concord (3/28/16)

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I once again reached Concord jurors to inform them about jury nullification.

Jury nullification is where a jury decides not to convict a defendant not on the grounds of not being guilty of breaking the law, but because the law itself (or this particular application) is unjust. Jury nullification activists inform jurors of this right to nullify via informative pamphlets.

As this was the last selection of the pool, many jurors had already received a pamphlet. In total, 28 were reached (most of them jurors, with a couple of defense attorneys thrown into the mix). One defense attorney requested to view the pamphlet. She was very knowledgeable about jury nullification, including the previous law that had been passed to inform jurors of their right to nullify, as well as the second pending, more comprehensive one. She inquired about the group I was representing, and stopped to talk twice, both on the way into the courthouse and on the way out.

Later, another presumed defense attorney stopped and asked what I hoped to accomplish by distributing these flyers. I explained how the jury system allows the people to counterbalance the legislature and judicial system in cases of abuse. She ask why one wouldn’t simply go through the legislature to change bad laws. I replied that in cases where the legislature is unresponsive to the will of the people, jury nullification acts as an emergency measure to ensure that injustice isn’t done. As she left she mentioned that some would prefer to simply have a judge rather than jury involvement.

Towards the end of the selection, a friendly man with a thick foreign accent who had business with the court approached me on his way out with questions regarding jury nullification. I explained the general concept, as well as specific cases where it might be employed (I gave marijuana laws and accidentally carrying a firearm onto federal property as examples). He seemed satisfied with my response and left.