CTU Jury Nullification Discussion

The role of the jury is to apply the law as the judge has instructed. In this case, the defendant was charged with possession of marijuana, based on a search of his car following a traffic stop for speeding. The police did not charge him with the speeding, but only possession of marijuana. The jury was instructed accordingly. During their deliberations, the jurors discussed their anger at the police and prosecutors for using the speeding just to stop the defendant’s car and search it and decided that they wanted to send a message to police and prosecutors that they should be focusing on “real” crimes and leave people in possession of marijuana alone, even though it was still illegal in their state. Their belief was that voting “not guilty” would be a message to prosecutors and the police.

Review the materials provided, and discuss the following:

  • Did the jury in this instance act outside of its scope?
  • Is there any remedy for the jury’s actions?

Answer:

The jury in this instance appears to have acted outside of its scope by allowing personal biases and opinions about law enforcement practices to influence their decision-making process. The role of the jury is to apply the law as instructed by the judge and determine guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented during the trial, not to send messages or make statements about law enforcement practices or public policy.

Jurors are expected to base their decisions solely on the facts of the case and the relevant legal instructions provided by the judge. Allowing personal opinions or feelings about law enforcement practices to influence the verdict undermines the fairness and impartiality of the judicial process.

As for remedies for the jury’s actions, it would depend on the specific circumstances and procedural rules of the jurisdiction in which the trial took place. Generally, if it is determined that the jury acted improperly or outside of its scope, there may be grounds for an appeal or for the verdict to be set aside. The defense could potentially argue that the jury’s decision was influenced by extraneous factors unrelated to the evidence presented at trial and therefore should not be considered valid.

However, it can be challenging to prove that the jury’s decision was solely based on their personal biases rather than the evidence presented during the trial. Additionally, courts are generally reluctant to overturn jury verdicts without clear evidence of misconduct or legal error. Ultimately, whether there is a remedy for the jury’s actions would depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the legal standards applied by the court.

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