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Jury Nullification

Did you ever want to tell “the man” that his rules were bogus, and you simply were not going to play by them? Little known fact: as a juror, you can. Today’s topic is jury nullification.

By
Michael W. Flynn
4-minute read

First, a disclaimer: Although I am an attorney, the legal information in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for seeking personalized legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Further, I do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any listener.   

Did you ever want to tell “the man” that his rules were bogus, and you simply were not going to play by them? Little known fact: as a juror, you can. Today’s topic is jury nullification. Chris from North Carolina wrote:

Could you explain what "Jury Nullification" is, and why judges never mention it when giving instructions to jurors?

Jury nullification refers broadly to a jury's knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law either because the jury wants to send a message about some social issue that is larger than the case itself or because the result dictated by law is contrary to the jury's sense of justice, morality, or fairness.

In jury trials, a jury of 6-12 people is sworn in to apply the facts to the law. Attorneys present their evidence, and make arguments about what the evidence shows, and what it does not show. After the attorneys present their evidence, then the judge will instruct the jury on the law. The judge will tell the jurors that, if they find certain things to be true, then the law is that they should render a certain verdict. Then, the jurors deliberate until they reach the required consensus to render a verdict. In criminal trials, verdicts typically must be unanimous, and civil verdicts usually require about three-fourths of the jurors to agree on one verdict. After the jury reaches the proper consensus, then it hands its verdict to the judge, and that verdict usually becomes the official outcome of the case.

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