ABKLaw BLOG: Jury Nullification

BLOG from our #ABKLaw Partner Michael Jaccarino, Esq.:  Jury Nullification

Jury Nullification is the practice of a deliberating jury voting “Not Guilty” when the jury disagrees with the criminal charge………even after the defendant’s guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.   Some argue, this practice is a juror’s constitutional right. Is it?

In New York State, jurors are told by the Judge that if the prosecutor proves the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they MUST convict, even if they disagree with the law.  For instance, a juror deliberating on a marijuana case must convict a defendant if it is proven that the defendant possessed marijuana, even if the juror disagrees with the laws making marijuana possession illegal.    Should a juror have to vote against this belief? Some law professors believe that since we have the right to free speech, a juror’s vote of not guilty in such a scenario is an exercise of that free speech.

In fact, some would argue that a juror should reach whatever verdict her conscience leads her to and that, by doing that, jurors act as the voice of their community and a check of the illegitimate use of state power.  

Of course, lately, the rising tide of exonerations for botched or unjustified arrests and prosecutions have eroded many citizens blind faith in the American system of justice, perhaps making them more receptive to the concept of jury nullification.

Jury selection is more art than science, as juries are composed of human beings who are complicated.   Why juries do what they do is a mystery. However, our lawyers at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins have decades of jury trial experience.  The skills that are required to be able to speak to jurors and decide what jurors will be receptive to your case can only be developed and honed by being involved in hundreds of jury trials.  We put that wisdom into practice for many of our clients when we select a jury, empower the jurors during voire dire, establish credibility during the trial, skillfully offer and present evidence, and seek a winning verdict from the jury at the end of the trial.  

Contact our office today to find out more about how this can impact you. 212-486-0011

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