Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Race Based Jury Nullification Essay Example for Free

Race Based Jury Nullification Essay Jury nullification can generally be termed as the act by a jury who even though is convinced that a defendant is guilty of the charges he or she is accused of, decides to give out or acquit him or her of the charges for the jury’s own reasons (Brandy R. 2006). Jury nullification or for that matter can be defined as a process whereby the jury(s) nullifies â€Å"unfair laws by declaring guilty defendants not guilty†. On the other hand race based jury nullification involves the process of a jury acquitting an individual based on his or her race. This kind of cases is usually found in homogenous cases where the diversity of the jury is nil or very little. Earlier cases that include runaway slave laws as well as the present day cases like police shootings indicate that race based nullification is still a modern day courtroom issue. The nullification process usually takes place in the event that a criminal trial decides not to convict a defendant in spite of full proof of guilt due to the belief and view by jurors that the law is unfair or at certain times that there is an unjustly application of the said law. The basis of the nullification can be said, thus, to be â€Å"the unjustness of the law†, the application of the same law on the basis of race of a party. Additionally there are instances where cases that involve the terminally ill persons in the society are often given leniency by the jurors, when they do drugs due to their condition. The issue often is not just about nullification per se but at times is based and as such has brought a lot o debate on its essence in view of the law as well as ethics. In this paper, I will discuss the issue of race based jury nullification, its limitations as well as its merits. Finally I will evaluate the relevance of race based jury nullification in our present day society. Race based jury nullification Race based jury nullification involves the process of a jury knowingly acquitting a defendant based on his or her race and with the full knowledge that the defendant is guilty. There are empirical studies, which have shown that about 3 to 4 percent of jury criminal trails have been connected to jury nullification. The dilemma that the situation presents is overwhelming, considering that there exists no chance to stop the process of jury nullification as jurors and are never ordered or forced to convict defendants and also there is also no clause in law that makes it punishable for the juror to acquit someone. The overlying principle function of the jury is that it should complete the law, if necessary through the recognition of fundamentals of justification that traverses beyond the written laws of the land and not to â€Å"nullify† the instructions given by the judge. The focal point of reference when the jurors give the â€Å"not guilty† verdict and in the process is the issue of unjust nature of the law. Pros and cons Depending on which side of the debate you are on, this issue has both the ugly and the good side. There are various reasons why race based jury nullification has encountered criticisms even by its ardent supporters. One, the case can be used for majority cases, that is in instances where the jury consists largely of persons from the same race can effectively acquit one of their â€Å"own† (defendant from the same race). For instance, a largely constituted black jury would free a black American even tough she or he has committed a severe crime. Thus in view of the law, when a dangerous individual is acquitted on the basis of his or her race sets a bad precedence (Jemal, 1997). There are instances when white jurors have acquitted fellow whites through the process of jury nullification while in the face of it the said defendants actually engaged in an illegality that either harmed black or brown people in America. There are also instances when black jurors have freed fellow blacks on the basis of their races while they committed either a racial act or a severe crime. This has not helped the just course of the due process, blacks, whites as well as other races have engaged in the race based jury nullification, something that does not portend well for rules of the law. The nature with which the voting is normally done by the jurors is usually that of conscience, to an extent this is a total disrespect if not abuse of the laws of this land. When someone who is supposedly guilty is acquitted, this is tantamount to nullification of the very law. They are supposed to protect and on whose basis the jury even came into existence. Jury nullification has the potential to turn an otherwise coherent and cohesive society or state into some hostile, incoherent or even lead to civil strife. This is because when serious acts are committed, and rulings are based on races, the respective races may gang up against each other. It seems to be a defeat process in the face of the law that should be the guardian and protector of all. The most often conclusion drawn is usually that nullification is an integral part of power, which is essential for the checks and balances of the judicial system. Jury nullification has and will continue to play a dual role in the history of our country. There are certain instances in our history that jury nullification has proved to be a useful tool. For instance, in those cases that involved slavery or differential prosecution at certain instances let racist to go unabated. There is the possibility that over use of this power together with other real or imagined risks that it possess would be enormous if everyone were to understand and be aware of it. However, the absence of it would put and vest too much power with the executive and surely everyone else understands the consequences of excessive unbalanced power exercised by the government versus the power of the common citizens. Conclusion Overall, the race based jury nullification has been, still is and would always be a very highly debatable topic, whether one supports it or he or she is against it. In each and every argument put forward by anyone in the society for or against jury nullification process, there are strong, valid opinions and facts in support of the various respective reasons that cannot just be wished away. Having evaluated the situation, and with a critical analysis of the basis of the law of our great country, I came to a conclusion that with due respect the good job the jurors have done so far, the race based jury nullification should not be conducted or at least cordoned by the jurors. This does not mean that I am in anyway opposing or rejecting the whole idea of jury nullification. However, if the element of race becomes apart of the whole equation, then I strongly call for its ban. In my opinion and understanding of our history I believe jury nullification based on a defendant’s race does not promote unity within communities at any level. Considering the tremendous efforts our country has made towards a harmonious community and with the effort various personalities have put in educating and sensitizing people on how negative race based ideas has and can be. I believe the whole process is discriminatory and basically racial to the people in our society. This does not in any way mean that individuals should be ashamed of their races and promotes the values and ideals they stand for, but when a defendant is found guilty or innocent on the basis of the law by the jurors based on his or her race alone then there is a problem. Either the problem is with the law or our society but none of us wants either of these two scenarios. The basis for any juror’s decision should be facts, information as well as evidence that they receive throughout the trail. Jurors prejudices be it racial or otherwise should be left at their door steps before they get into the streets leave alone the courtrooms. Reference: Brandy Rivera, 2006, Race based jury nullification. Associated Content Cato Books 1999: Jurors Should Know Their Rights: A historical look at jury independence Jemal, 1997, Race Based Jury Nullification: A Path To Equality! http://www. geocities. com/athens/olympus/1320/nullification. htm Scheflin, Alan W. , (1999) California Bar Journal, Point Counter Point Is it ever proper for juries to ignore or reinterpret the law? , Retrieved September 28, 2007 from http://www. calbar. ca. gov/calbar/2cbj/99mar/page14-1. htm

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