Man Charged for Advocating Jury Nullification

Julian Heicklen is a good man who has been informing jurors of their right to nullify for some time. Unfortunately for him he’s in the state of New York which isn’t known for their respect of law or rights, which is what has likely lead to his arrest:

Julian P. Heicklen, a 79-year-old retired chemistry professor, has often stood on a plaza outside the United States Courthouse in Manhattan, holding a “Jury Info” sign and handing out brochures that advocate

Emphasis mine. The idea of jury nullification isn’t controversial, it has a long standing precedence in English common law which our system was built upon. Nullification is an extension of the fact that juries can’t be punished for the verdict they deliver. That is to say if a jury finds a defendant not guilty members of the jury can’t be charged with a crime because they ruled in opposition to the desires of the court. Were this protection removed it would effectively eliminate the entire idea behind juries.

Thus jury nullification isn’t controversial but an unpreventable (thankfully) side effect of jury trials. Juries are not required to even justify their verdict hence they could nullify without anybody knowing they did so. In summary nullification is a power juries have by the very fact juries exist. It pisses me off when people claim the idea of nullification is in any way controversial and demonstrates the sheer ignorance of the person making the statement regarding jury trials. The following quote is also golden:

“No legal system could long survive,” they added, “if it gave every individual the option of disregarding with impunity any law which by his personal standard was judged morally untenable.”

Actually our legal system, as well as the legal system of countless other countries, have survived giving every juror the option of disregarding the letter of the law. Again nullification is a power that is granted juries by the very fact that juries can’t be punished for their verdict. Since there has never been a case in the United States (that I’m aware of) where members of a jury have been punished for delivering an “incorrect” verdict and our system is still in operation it’s impossible to claim a legal system can’t survived nullification.

I wish more people were capable of using basic logic and had an understanding of history.

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