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Jury Nullification is in the news again in New Hampshire

October 3, 2012

You had to know this was coming, after all, a Union Leader article said talk of jury nullification was going to be common in New Hampshire courts. Sure enough, there is a 3rd high profile case since the law passed in June with the defense bringing up the jury nullification argument in New Hampshire.

The backstory on jury nullification. Jury nullification has been widely known as a right, at least to the legal class, since the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, in 1794 explained the right in the Georgia v. Brailsford case. Unfortunately, several judges and courts have tried to restrict or even deny the right since then. This summer, a bill which prevented activists judges from interfering with the defense making a case for jury nullification to a jury was signed into law by Governor John Lynch.

That law says that a judge cannot prevent the defense from fully informing the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law. New Hampshire Representative McClarren has set the groundwork to submit a bill which goes further. 2013-H-0258-R is titled requiring courts to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of law. This means that a judge would go from having an option to talk about jury nullification, to being required to say a couple sentences about the subject.

Having fully informed juries improves the justice system by making it more transparent. It also allows juries to act as a check on judicial or prosecutor misconduct.


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