"The failure to instruct jurors on their power to nullify also raises constitutional concerns. The right to a jury actually exists as part of a constitutional framework designed to protect defendants from potential government abuse. The Sixth Amendment states, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a ... public trial by an impartial jury. ...” The Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial is “fundamental to the American scheme of justice,’ acting as a safeguard against the government. This constitutional safeguard is achieved through the “participation of the community in determinations of guilt and by the application of the common sense of laymen who, as jurors, consider the case.” "
by:
Robert E. Korroch
(1959- ) Lieutenant Commander US Coast Guard, lawyer
Source:
Korroch, Lieutenant Commander Robert E., and Major Michael J. Davidson, Jury Nullification: A Call for Justice or an Invitation to Anarchy?, 139 MIL. L. REV. 131, 142 (1993) citing Ballew v. Georgia, 435 U.S. 223, 229 (1977) citing Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78, 100 (1970).
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Joe, Metropolis      
Jury nullification is indeed "a safeguard against the government".
 -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  •  
     -- watchman 13, USA      
    I think this aphorism is weak to the point of useless and a waste of time reading. He states that judging the law is in the Constitution. It isn't. Just that a jury is to be there. It is tradition and eventually a cultural meme that the jury can judge the law. BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THOSE WHO DENY THE RIGHT TO JUDGE THE LAW HOLD THAT THE PURPOSE OF A JURY IS TO ALLOW PEERS TO JUDGE WHETHER THE DEFENDANT IS TELLING THE TRUTH OR NOT. That's all. They merely serve as lie detectors.
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton CA     
  •  
    As with a number of shortcomings in the Constitution, a great deal has been assumed to be common knowledge and therefore not included in the language of the Constitution. But some state constitutions do make it clear:

    "In all criminal cases whatsoever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts."
    ~ Indiana Constitution Article I, Section 19

    Indiana did not make this up out of nothing, it is the true tradition of trial by jury. The Constitution has been turned on its head now -- rather than being a strict rule book for the government, it has become the justification for unlimited power of the government. It was understood at one time that the government only had the powers granted to it and all else not enumerated belonged to the People -- now it is treated as a rule book for the people and that the government can do whatever it wants as long as it is not prohibited in the Constitution.

    It was also understood that each State was its own sovereign state and not subject to the dictates of Washington -- this very important distinction has almost been lost in America.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  •  
    Walter, please read my comments on "Georgia Code" and "Indiana Constitution" from a few days ago.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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