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Jury Nullification Essay

1101 words - 5 pages

Jury Nullification
Jury selection plays a significant role in the criminal justice system. Their primary role of the jury lies within the courtroom setting during criminal proceedings. These individuals are charged with the responsibility of hearing testimony from the prosecution and defense and also evaluating any evidence brought before the court. Their understanding and interpretation of all testimony and evidence greatly determine the final result of the trial, the verdict. In many circumstances a jury may dismiss the testimony and evidence and inject their own personal opinions regarding the law. This is known as jury nullification. Jury nullification permits juries to acquit even when ...view middle of the document...

Those in favor of ethnicity-based jury nullification argue that the criminal justice system provides certain benefits to Whites while discriminating against minorities. They believe that minorities are oppressed by the criminal justice system. Jury nullification is often attributed to juries that identify with and share the same characteristics as the defendant, such as the defendant’s racial or ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or value system (Keneally, 2010). The occurrence of this type of nullification has been attributed to a potential response to social conditions, including the perception that the criminal justice system targets minorities (Keneally, 2010).
Those individuals that are against ethnicity-based jury nullification state that “the criminal justice system in the United States is a system that is set up to be fair to all people (Race-Based Jury Nullification, 2009). They believe that the influence of ethnicity in regards to court proceedings is unjust. That it allows the guilty to go free and that no justice is served to the victim or community. Jurors must understand the importance of their role within the criminal justice system and punish those that have violated the law. Opponents of ethnicity-based jury nullification also argue that “this nullification may also place an innocent person in prison or result in the loss of an innocent life (Race-Based Jury Nullification, 2009).
Contemporary Examples of Ethnicity-Based Jury Nullification
There have been several episodes of alleged jury nullification due to race throughout the history of the criminal justice system, most notably the criminal trial of former football player O.J. Simpson, as well as the criminal trial of Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell, the police officers in the Rodney King beating (Keneally, 2010).
In early 1995, O.J. Simpson went on trial for the murder of wife Nicole Simpson. This trial was highly publicized due to his status as a professional athlete. The final jury selected for the trial consisted of 9 blacks, 1 Hispanic, and 2 whites (Linder, 2012). Many believe that the demographics of the selected jury played a part in the jury rendering a “not guilty” verdict in this case based primarily on the jury questionnaire and their personal opinions of O.J. Simpson.
In the early nineties Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell stood trial for the beating of Rodney King. These officers, as well as a few others, were charged...

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