Volume 53

Jury Nullification: Fixing the Law When Politicians Won’t

by Leigh Ainsworth

New Hampshire is poised to be the first state in the country to pass legislation requiring judges to inform juries of their right to “nullify.” Jury nullification has existed since the nation’s founding and allows juries to acquit defendants in cases where conviction would proper under the law but would result in an unjust verdict. The Supreme Court, however, has held that judges are not required to tell juries of their right to nullify, and some states have even allowed arresting individuals who inform juries of their right to nullify. New Hampshire’s move towards requiring judicial instructions about jury nullification is thus exciting and daunting all at the same time—it is an opportunity to see what could happen if juries really know about nullification.

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