Fully Informed Jury Bill Passes in New Hampshire
After well over a decade of work, New Hampshire finally passed a fully informed jury reform bill.
Technically, according to the legal experts, New Hampshire law not only allows for jury nullification but it informs juries about their ability to exercise jury nullification. Judges in NH say something like, “If the prosecution has met its legal burden, the jury should find the defendant guilty” in NH courts. The word should does not mean must. If judges used the word must, they would be telling jurors that jury nullification is illegal. Since judges use the word should, they say that jury nullification is legal, possible and you may use it but you shouldn’t use it.
Thanks to House Bill 146, the defense is now allowed, over a judge’s objection, to inform a jury that a jury has a right to judge the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy. How will a defense attorney choose to make such a legal argument to a jury? Will judges try to restrict an attorney for making such an argument in non-legalese? We don’t know the answers to these questions yet. While HB 146 may have gone rather than any similar law in any other state, it may not have gone far enough. Rest assured, the people of NH will be paying attention to future trials in NH and if we feel we need to push further legislation, we will.
HB 146 was championed in the NH House by the sponsor, Rep. Lars Christiansen, Rep. Dan Itse and the Speaker of the House. It was championed by Senators Jim Forsythe and Fenton Groen on the Senate Judiciary Committee and passed the Senate 14-9 over the wishes of Senate President Peter Bragdon. Governor John Lynch signed HB 146 into law last week.
This bill only became law because of the dedication of pro-liberty lawyers, Ron Paul supporters and free staters. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
BTW, HB146 isn’t the first fully informed jury bill to be proposed in NH. Here is some of the recent history with fully informed jury bills in NH.
2000 HB 1236 – Jury Nullification passed House, 5-0 ITL in Senate Committee, Full Senate did a voice vote supporting the ITL
2001 HB 133 – Jury Nullification didn’t pass House
2003 HB 122 – Jury Nullification passed House, 3-2 ITL in Senate Committee, Full Senate did a voice vote supporting ITL
2005 HB 530 – Jury Nullification didn’t pass House
2007 HB 906 – Jury Nullification didn’t pass House
2010 HB 1347 – Jury Nullification didn’t pass House
Cato Institute http://www.policemisconduct.net/jury-nullification-law-signed-new-hampshire-governor/
The Agitator http://www.theagitator.com/2012/06/30/new-hampshire-passes-jury-nullification-law/
Free Keene TV Free Keene TV coverage of the informed jury bills passage