Jury nullification can be defined as a jury who believes the defendant is guilty of the charges. Jury nullification occurs when a criminal trial jury refuses to convict a defendant despite proof of guilt because the jurors believe the law is unjust or is being unjustly applied. According to the studies 3 to 4 percent of jury criminal trials involve jury nullification. There is no way to prevent jury nullification because juries never can be ordered to convict or be punished for acquitting someone.
The function of the jury as the ultimate authority on the law is not to “nullify” the instructions of the judge, but to complete the law, when necessary, by recognizing principles of justification that go beyond the written law. (Brandy Rivera, 2006). Ethnicity Influences Courtroom Proceedings and Judicial Practices There have been research findings on racial and ethnic disparities in crime and the criminal justice system in The United States, with particular emphasis on studies that illustrate differences that can be explained by discrimination.
The discussion focuses on issues relating to race and ethnicity in different stages of criminal justice processing at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Data reflecting trends over time are presented for context. It seeks to present a balanced picture of what is known about this issue from systematic research evidence. Some of the important scientific knowledge that helps understands the intersection of race and ethnicity and the criminal justice system in America.
For much of the twentieth century, crime and punishment have provided someone of the most overrepresented in delinquency, offending victimization, and all stages of the criminal justice process pro arrest to pretrial detention, sentencing and confinement. Researchers have made significant efforts to examine the causes and consequences of racial disparities in criminal justice processing. There are several of experiences that reveal an important part of the story of discrimination and racial prejudice in America. The focus of much historical analysis has been on the experiences of African Americans under slavery.
Native Americans were also oppressed and brutalized trough enforcement of legal systems. When it comes to race-based jury nullification, the same principles apply. The African-American, or Hispanic or whatever race applies; community should approach their work cognizant of its political nature and their prerogative to exercise their power in the best interests of their particular community. (American Sociological Association, 2007). Pros and Cons Ethnicity – Based Jury Nullification Jury nullification takes place on a daily basis, because of many motives some are positive and some are negative.
If jurors were supposed to judge “only the facts”, the computer could do their job. It is precisely because people have feelings, opinions, wisdom, experience, and conscience that depend upon jurors, not upon machines, to judge court cases. Some positive aspects of jury nullification are that it keeps guilty offenders incarcerated. It ensures that there are fair trials, and it keeps one less criminal off the streets and from committing similar or the same crimes again. In every case, the juror should be guided by his or her view of what is just.
Judges routinely instruct jurors that they are not to determine the justness of the law in question, only whether the defendant is guilty of breaking it. Jurors also need to go into the jury room with the understanding that race has no place in the verdict of the case. In addition, those who may support race based jury nullification have identified a few problems with it. One, it can be used for majority cases. A defendant with similar race jury members can be given the same freedom to nullify a case based on race and Black Americans do not think that is a good idea.
It allows a criminal to go free just because of his or her race and though some support this nullification it is not favored for severe crimes. It is to focus on lesser crimes that target Black Americans, specifically drug crimes. So, to some, allowing a dangerous person to go free just because of their race and allowing white defendants to be nullified just as easily are great examples as to why some are against race based jury nullification. (Brandy Rivera, 2006). Contemporary Examples
Race-Based Nullification has been playing a role in the courts for several years. One example is the Scottsboro Trial In 1931, nine African American teenaged males were charged with raping two females. This occurred when the African American males fought with white males. The nine males was arrested and convicted on rape charges, which was punishable by death during the early 1930’s. Even after several appeals, only one of the nine men made it out of prison alive 15 years later after Alabama admitted they gave the youth an unfair case.
Another example is the Beating of Rodney King 4 white officers were acquitted for use of excessive force. Lastly the Jewish Scholar stabbed by Black Mob, the incident occurred in 1991 when a man was stabbed after a Religious Jewish Motorcade ran over a young boy. Mainly African American jury members where reviewing this case. (Brandy Rivera, 2006). Against Ethnicity –Based Jury Nullification Against Raced-Based Jury Nullification Despite the burden of proof, some jurors elect not to convict or to convict a person based solely on their skin color.
Jury Nullification is wrong but hard to avoid. In most cases, the prosecution, the defense team and the judge have the right to put a juror on the panel or dismiss them from jury duty. The line of questioning submitted by everyone is to ensure that the trial is fair. People should be committed for their criminal actions or acquitted for their lack of involvement in a criminal act. Looking pass the law and taking the role of a vigilante is not the letter of the law but applies to the moral of a single or group of people.
The fourteenth amendment guarantees that everyone has a right to a fair trial; using jury nullification voids the terms of that agreement. (American Sociological Association, 2007) Conclusion Overall, race based jury nullification is a highly debatable issue whether for or against. Each argument has strong opinions and facts to support them as well as a variety of reasons. We are not opposed to jury nullification as a whole, but when race is put into the equation we are opposed to nullification. Race based jury nullification does not promote community unity by any means.
This thought process is simply racial and based on discrimination which as a society we are trying to educate individuals on how negative race based ideas can be. We are not stating that races should not be proud of who they are and promote what they stand for, but when a jury finds a defendant guilty or innocent simply based on race alone there is a problem. As we have continued to state, jurors need to base their verdicts on facts, information and evidence that is shown to them throughout any trial. Racial biased opinions need to be left at the door.