Criminal justice system Review Example

Simply defined, race-based jury nullification occurs when a jury refuses to convict a defendant despite proof of guilt because jurors believe the law is unjust or unjustly applied to the defendant based on that person’s race. A number of famous examples of race-based jury nullification like John Peter’s trial in 1735, Harriet Tubman and even the Dr. Kevorkian case. Other examples are cases, which involve terminally ill persons charged with doing drugs. It seems those who are terminally ill use these drugs to ease severe pain of life and thus are given leniency by nullification.

Many individuals support race-based nullification for instances of minorities on trial for non-violent crimes. It is believed if juries are nullified in these instances it could have a dramatic impact on current day demographics of our prison populations. For & against race-based jury nullification: There have been proven pros to race-based jury nullification that provides jurors with a better understanding about the defendant or the situation at hand. When a person of the jury can relate to an action and the belief of being acquitted is present since the jury sympathize more with the defendant.

Race-based jury nullification can have a positive and negative outcome during trial. An acquittal may not be what a defendant receives if he or she solely relies on a jury’s emotional connection with the defendant. The criminal justice system has come a long way but one way or another race is still the center of attention. Jemal (1997) believes “that race-based jury nullification will be able to destroy the criminal justice system’s status quo on minorities being incarcerated and jury nullification is power to the people that gives them the right to exercise their political power.

”Because jury trials began in America race-based jury nullification existed and has been practiced. It was created in order to protect offenders against unjust prosecution. Race-based jury nullification is a crucial structure that balances the jury and gives all races the right to utilize their endowment as a juror allowing them to decide what is just or unjust. People must understand race-based jury nullification gives all races a place within the jury room, allowing an opportunity to serve equal and fair justice with the best interest for society.

Not all crimes are cut and dry a great deal of gray areas about fact and law can be used and twist to benefit a defendant or lead to a guilty verdict. Jury nullification allows for the “play on” the human emotional element of a case. Ethnicity, gender and other elements of difference should have no weight in a court of law. Courtrooms and juries who decide over the guilt or innocence of a person should do so based solely on the facts of a case. When juries acquit based on a defendants ethnicity or gender they are clearly stating they do not trust in our justice system and its process of determining a person’s guilt or innocence.

Race-based nullification leads to acquittals of possibly guilty persons for serious crimes left to victimize another innocent person. Conclusion: Race-based jury nullification is inappropriate on every level because justice is not being served. For an African American on a jury to find an African American defendant innocent because the defendant is the same race and ethnicity he or she is in the wrong as a Caucasian juror to decide based on the it is for a defendant’s race or ethnicity.

The jury’s are responsibility of following the instructions given by the judge, which are to hear the facts and evidence presented in the case. Along with making a decision if the defendant is guilty or innocent based on the facts produced by both the defense attorney and the prosecutor. The verdict should never be based on race or ethnicity. Members of a criminal jury are repeatedly told that their solemn duty is to follow precisely the instructions provided by the trial judge. Yet all judges and lawyers know that, if a jury wishes to acquit, its members are free to ignore both facts and law.

This is the doctrine of “jury nullification” (O’Neill, T. O. , 1997, p. 1). Jury nullification has become a great controversy and cause for many instances of racial discrimination in the courtroom. There is power in jury nullification because the jury decides if a person is going to prison or walking away from trial and going home based on the color of their skin or ethnicity. There have been instances where both Whites and Blacks have been known to participate in jury nullification. There has been racial tension between jurors because of race-based jury nullification.

Juries are quite often made up of different races and cultures. “Some racial division on juries is simply the result of different people bringing different life experiences into court and viewing evidence through different lenses” (Leo, J. , 1995, p. 2). Jury nullification is wrong and should not be tolerated because it can cause an innocent person to go to jail and a guilty person to go free. The jury should not be given that kind of power over an individual’s life, especially when it is based on race or ethnicity.

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Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th edition Retrieved May 8, 2010 from http://www. blackslawdictionary. com/ Jemal, . (1997). Race Based Jury Nullification: A Path to Equality: www. associatedcontent. com: Retrieved May 8, 2010, Leo, J. (1995). The color of the law. U. S. News, p. 2. Retrieved from U. S. News (http://www. usnews. com/usnews/opinion/articles/951016/archive_033097_print. htm) Lessenberry, J. (1996). Jury Acquits Kevorkian in Common Law Case.

New York Times, Retrieved on May 8, 2010 from http://www. nytimes.com/1996/05/15/us/jury-acquits-kevorkian-in-common-law-case. html? sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=all? pagewanted=all O’Neill, T. P. (1997). The role of race-based jury nullification in American criminal justice. John Marshall Law School, p. 1. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from John Marshall Law School (http://www. jmls. edu/facultypubs/oneill/oneill_article_role. shtml) Straughan,G. , (2005). Introduction to Criminal Justice. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from (http://www. lcsc. edu/gtstraughan/js103/Discuss/discuss2ed. htm)