Jury nullification is defined as when juries believe a case is unjust or wrong and may set free a defendant who violated the law. Jury nullification has been an option of a jury in the United States. In the legal system that we use today, jurors have the power to give a non-guilty verdict even when the evidence clearly shows that the defendant is guilty. In cases like this, the jurors decide that the certain laws should not be applied to the particular case or that the laws are unjust for the case. In other cases the jurors may believe that the laws are certainly bias against the defendant to begin with. The 14th amendment in our Constitution promises that all persons no matter race, sex, or religion are allowed due process and equal protection from the law. Today society find it vital to question to what extent a jury may take these laws and make them their own. In this paper it will explain whether ethnicity influences courtroom proceedings and judicial practices, summarize the arguments for and against ethnicity-based jury nullification, include contemporary examples of ethnicity-based jury nullification and last but not least conclude by choosing a position for or against ethnicity-based jury nullification and defend your decision.
A debate that has been going on for some time has always been race-based jury nullification. Jury nullification does have some good point in which it benefits the criminal justice system as it allows the jury to interpret the law and come up with an agreement based on their beliefs. There are reports and statistics that prove discrimination is alive and that a persons race does affect the length and severity of the punishment assigned to him or her. Racial- based nullification can be beneficial in addressing the unfair issues in the criminal justice system. According to the article, Race Based Jury Nullification, it indicated that Jury nullification occurs when a criminal- trial jury refuses to convict a defendant despite proof of guilt because the jurors believe the law is unjust or is being unjustly applied (Rivera). When this method is applied and used in an honest manner, it could possibly to help even out the playing fields for racial based jury nullification for minorities in the courtroom when it is time for sentencing based on the law rather than on race. Many of the candidates picked to be a part of the jury knows about jury nullification.
Anywhere in the world a jury just like a judge can nullify a criminal case. Based on race many of these cases are nullified even though the evidence proves guilt. For example OJ Simpsons case proved that he was guilty but since the Rodney King incident occurred prior too, he was nullified by the jury. Often times it is not supported because it allows a biased judgment to be formed not based on guilt of the person but based on race. Majority of the times setting criminals free to commit the same crimes again. Being acquitted of all charges is usually how jury nullifications occur. Many believe that racial nullification should be possible for those that have committed non-violent crimes even if the evidence shows that the person is in fact guilty. The contribution to the criminal justice system is that this would allow the prison system to have more space for those that commit more violent crimes regardless of their race.
As we see jury nullification can either be beneficial or it can truly destroy the criminal justice system. Courtrooms need to recognize that there needs to be no biases within the system or people need to be blindfolded before being a part of a case. There needs to be a model set forth in regards to the influence that justice should outweigh any feelings in regards to race and one should serve time for the crime that they was convicted of. African American, or Hispanic or minorities races apply society ought to come close to their effort and be aware of its supporting nature and their choice to practice their authority in benefit of their area. In all these cases, the juror should be educated through his or her viewpoint of what is just and unjust. An opinion paper mentioned that all Black Americans should partake in race- based jury nullification and that to do so would bring about changes in how the justice system handled minority cases, (Jemal, 1997). Other valid points are made by Jemel, supporting his belief in race-based jury nullification by stating The system is designed to put blacks in jail for largely economic crimes while letting child molesters, rapist and murderers go free (1997).
After doing all the necessary research, I stand to say that I am against race based nullification. As stated the juror knows what the defendant has done and yet still allows him or her to be acquitted of the crimes because they feel bad for them or the most used their race. These are biased reasons that should not be used when a person is involved with a criminal case. Race nullification either helps or hinders the system and we are always fighting for a better system. The 14th Amendment helps supports my stance by stating that All persons receive a fair trial by their peers and that can have no effect at all on the decisions made by the jury.
The jury is also sworn into the court by swearing on a Bible that they will not only take into consideration the evidence presented by both parties and that they will not allow for any personal feelings or personal bias to get in the way of their vote. Upon reading this paper it provide detailed information about the influence that ethnicity had on courtroom proceeds and judicial practices, the arguments that were for and against race based nullification with contemporary examples. Where I stand on this subject is evident based on my response and I am a firm believer in equality for all. Racism comes in all forms as we can see.