New Hampshire is the first state to adopt the Jury Nullification Law. In a nutshell, the law allows attorneys to explain to the jury that if individuals don’t agree with the specific law that the charges are based on or how they were applied in the case, each juror can refuse to convict, even if the accused was technically guilty of said charges. To me, the Founding Fathers wanted this for America. A trial among your peers. If your peers don’t agree with the law that you are being charged with, they can choose not to convict, even if the evidence against the defendant is overwhelming “beyond a reasonable doubt”
The idea that the average citizen can just decide that they agree with a certain law or not completely undermines our legal system. If the evidence against the accused is beyond a “reasonable doubt”, then the juror must convict. This is how the justice system is meant to work. If a law is deemed inappropriate, it is up to individuals to go through the proper channels so that lawmakers can possibly repeal it, not for jurors to take the law into their own hands.
FLIP SIDE is not the opinion of the author.
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed HB 146, on June 18, 2012 which reads:
A Right of Accused. In all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.
I am no lawyer or claim to be one; however, I am a freedom loving American Citizen who loves the idea that the people of the United States are the ones who make the laws. Laws are mainly designed to protect the people from the actions of each other and of an oppressive government. So, if I was a juror and I did not agree with a law that the accused was clearly guilty of, I would choose not to convict. I personally feel that the government has so many laws that it is only a matter of time that, sooner or later, everyone is going to be guilty of one of them.
Jury Nullification is already occurring all across America. The National Institute for Justice wrote a paper on September 30th, 2002 discussing this exact issue. Also, in the Cornell University Law Library, there was a paper written on January 1st, 2003 titled,“Nullification at Work? A Glimpse from the National Center for State Courts Study of Hung Juries”. Then on December 16, 2010, a case in Montana never went to court because they could not find a juror who thought the marijuana law they were trying to convict the accused on was fair or just. With all of this documented evidence of Jury Nullification already occurring, I can only feel it is appropriate that New Hampshire realizes that, if this is going to happen, then it should be out in the open.
Besides…it is “we the people” who the laws are made to protect. If the majority does not feel threatened and believes the law is misguided then this gives the average citizen the ability to voice their disappointment towards a law in the country they love, one juror at a time.