"The power of nullification plays an important role in the criminal justice system. ... Because an accused criminal is restricted in the defenses he or she can raise, the law recognizes only certain defenses and justification, and correspondingly, limited evidence. The jury’s power to nullify provides an accommodation between the rigidity of the law and the need to hear and respond to positions that do not fit legal pigeonholes, such as claims of spousal abuse before the battered-spouse syndrome received acceptance. Jury nullification permits the jury to respond to a position that does not have the status of a legally recognized defense. The power to nullify guarantees that the jury is free to speak as the conscience of the community. "
by:
Anne Bowen Poulin
Professor of Law, Villanova School of Law
Source:
Article: The Jury: The Criminal Justice System’s Different Voice, 62 U. CIN. L. REV. 1377, 1400 (1994)
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Fantastic, but denied in the statist theocracy infesting this land's practical applications.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US      
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx      
    Nullification of law by jury is as old as democracy itself. It's origin in ancient Greece was a check against majority rule and political tyranny. The jury has the right to judge both the facts and the law. Slavery and prohibition laws in the USA were often struck down by juries preceding emancipation and the repeal of alcohol prohibition. However, I believe the only way to make this argument to a jury is to represent oneself in a court -- a lawyer could lose his license and a judge could lose his seat. Perhaps Mike could expand on this.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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