According to Black’s Law Dictionary, jury nullification is “[a] jury’s knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law either because the jury wants to send a message about some social issue that is larger than the case itself or because the result dictated by law is contrary to the jury’s sense of justice, morality, or fairness.” For the purposes of this response paper, assume that jury nullification can happen only in a criminal proceeding when a jury returns a verdict of “not guilty.” (Of course, a jury can acquit a criminal defendant even when it does not nullify – when it is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, on the basis of the law and the evidence, that the defendant is guilty. But if a jury nullifies, then it does so only by acquitting a criminal defendant.)
Does the possibility of jury nullification make the American criminal legal system better or worse (all things of relevance to justice, societal well-being, and the rule of law considered)?
The paper should: (1) start by taking a clear position on whether, all things considered, allowing for jury nullification makes the American criminal legal system, overall, better or worse; (2) then offer arguments in favor of that position in an organized way; and (3) then respond to at least one (you may respond to more than one) of the strongest arguments against that position.
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