Don’t fear the nullification

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Although it is completely within the individual’s right to do, many people are uncomfortable with the notion of jury nullification. People tend to like order. Having a set of rules being applied to everyone helps keep life simple and tidy. The idea of jury nullification is therefore concerning because the order provided by the law is subject to the whim of a single juror.

If the idea of jury nullification causes you this kind of dismay, just remember this: you already nullify laws all the time.

When approaching a stop sign, how often do you actually follow the law and make a complete stop? The answer, if you are anything like me, is never—unless not stopping puts you or someone else in danger. You approach the stop sign and see that there’s no one else around. Though you realize that rolling the stop sign is against the law, you’re willing to commit the “crime” because you won’t be harming anyone.

The world is not flipped on its head because people routinely choose to break that law. The same goes for a multitude of other laws, including sales tax, drugs, etc. Nullification is not an avant garde movement being pushed by the edgiest of libertarians. Anyone who has ever thought for himself has practiced nullification. The only “radical” idea being advanced is that the individual has the right to practice nullification even though the current power structures do not want him to.

If you fear a jury knowing its rights to nullify, you should be absolutely terrified of people having the freedom to act in ways that could put them in front of a jury.

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George Donnelly
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Nice. I agree. A zero-tolerance society is neither natural nor any fun.

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