by Justin Gardner, D. C. Clothesline
When government demands allegiance to the idea that its actions are always just, it’s refreshing to see some lawmakers remind us that we can, in fact, deem government to be wrong.
The New Hampshire House passed a bill that would make it the first state in the nation to require courts to inform juries of their right to vote not guilty when the verdict would produce an unjust result. This right, which all juries possess, but may not be aware of, is called jury nullification. The bill is now awaiting approval in the Senate.
Even if government has proved that someone is guilty under its law, a jury can let the person go free if it disagrees with the law and the punishment. This is one of the few ways in which citizens have power within the system to counter the irrational tendencies of centralized bureaucracy.
New Hampshire currently allows 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.” However, the House bill would have judges explain this right to juries which, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, makes it “more likely that a juror will consider this option.”
© 2016 D. C. Clothesline