General Question

luigirovatti's avatar

Is the following case about jury nullification true?

Asked by luigirovatti (2297points) 1 month ago

If you lie about jury nullification in order to get on a jury with the intent to nullify and actually get indicted for perjury, just demand a trial by jury. The facts of your case will require that your jury learns about jury nullification, so all you have to do is convince them that this whole case is absurd and you’ll probably be found not guilty of nullification due to nullification.

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9 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’m not a lawyer, but I think your scenario is entirely too cute. Among other things, it assumes that:

a) the judge doesn’t see through this ploy and calls you out on it, and
b) the prosecutor of the perjury overlooks your premeditation in the first place.

It seems like an awfully precarious gamble to take for your freedom.

It might look good in the plot of a book, but I think in real life, it wouldn’t stand up in a courtroom.

gorillapaws's avatar

Sounds like a great backstory anecdote for a character in a story. In real life, I would guess most lawyers would advise against it, but I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice.

Lightlyseared's avatar

You would probably get charged with contempt not perjury. There is right no right to a jury trial, the judge you just pissed off decides your guilt or innocence and there is no principle proportionality.

So… good luck with that.

Zaku's avatar

I think the main error, is that jury nullification is a concept and not a crime, and I think it would take quite a clear and egregious case of perjury to get a charge and a trial.

How would you accomplish the part about convincing the jury that the case is absurd, when the judge and the attorney for the prosecution will be trying to convince them otherwise?

I think it may work in the story because the story’s author thinks everyone would agree with the author’s thinking that the case is absurd.

In practice, if the judge’s thinking about the situation is otherwise, I imagine the jury might not end up with anyone who would agree with the author nor be willing to nullify.

Zaku's avatar

@Lightlyseared Well, except judges tried that in 1670 and a higher court overruled them and reinforced the principle that jurors cannot be punished for the verdicts they give.

Forever_Free's avatar

It is a crime (however rare) in some countries still.

Great topic! The question here however may be one of frivolity.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Zaku I think you’re missing the point. Lying to the court is contempt. That’s what will get you.

Zaku's avatar

It seems to me that in a country where you can’t be punished for voting “incorrectly” as a juror, there isn’t likely a lie to punish, either, and even if someone were extremely blatant in exposing their behavior, it would be legally equivalent to punishing them for their vote, no? What point do you think I’m missing? What lie would “I” be punished for (not that I would do this).

JLoon's avatar

The short answer is – No.

Jury nullification is a twisted issue in American law, but your question is confused because rules of practice in state and federal courts prohibit both attorneys and judges from questioning jurors regarding their uderstanding and belief in nullification – either before or after they’re selected. The protection is based on a US Supreme Court ruling from 1895 in Sparf and Hansen vs United States. Despite debate over the effect of jury nullification, the precedent still holds.

The few cases where jurors have been removed or prosecuted have really involved misconduct by introducing information not in evidence into deliberations, or instances where they’ve openly declared they intend to nullify.

Because of the inconsistent balancing act between court interest in rule of law and the public interest in preventing unjust prosecution, jury nullification is treated with a “don’t ask don’t tell” approach. So the scenario you propose in your question would be very unlikely.

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