The Instigator
aburk903
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Objectivity
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

In The United States, Jury Nullification Is A Just Check On Government

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/28/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,039 times Debate No: 55571
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

aburk903

Con

I contend that jury nullification is not a just check on government. First round is for acceptance only. Best of luck.
Objectivity

Pro

I accept my opponent's challenge and look forward to an interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1
aburk903

Con

Thanks for accepting, Pro.

In the United States, jury nullification is not a just check on government. Jury nullification is defined by www.legaldefinitions.com as "where a jury deliberately rejects the evidence or refuses to apply the law either because the jury wants to send a message about a social issue or because the result dictated by the law is against the jury"s sense of justice or morality."

After observing my opponent"s profile I see that he (as well as myself) enjoys the LD style of debate. We have agreed to continue in that format, with VP VC and subsequent contentions. Negating jury nullification as a just check on government will achieve the value of societal welfare, which is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "the health, organization, and functioning of society". For society to function properly, to be organized uniformly, and to be kept healthy on the grounds of morality justice is a necessity. Therefore the value criterion to determine when societal welfare is reached must be justice, which is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "properly due or merited". I will show how jury nullification is unjust in three ways: that it allows juries to convict the innocent and pardon the guilty, that jury nullification does not distinguish between good law and bad law, and that jury nullification logically ends in an anarchist state.

I.Nullification Allows Juries To Convict The Innocent And Pardon The Guilty

The Iowa State Bar Association explained in "Jury Nullification" "Nullification instructions place citizens at the mercy of a small group of people who may grant or withhold justice at their whim, in complete disregard of the law. Proponents of this type of legislation state that a nullification instruction will protect criminal defendants from "unfair" laws. In reality, a nullification instruction invites and authorizes juries to acquit defendants who have clearly committed atrocious crimes. For example, in the 1960s, state juries frequently acquitted members of the Ku Klux Klan for some of the most heinous acts against other human beings that have ever been committed in the United States. These instances of jury nullification were so wide spread that Congress enacted separate federal laws to address the issue. A nullification instruction allows a jury to convict innocent persons even when the evidence does not show guilt. Jury nullification allows jurors to act out of hatred or sympathy, rather than following the law, and makes these acts a real and legitimate part of the legal system."

The Iowa State Bar Association shows us that while jury nullification may have the glamorous claim of freeing the innocent who corrupt legislators would otherwise condemn guilty, it also bears the heavy negative aspects of its potential to pronounce the guilty innocent and the innocent guilty. Allowing criminals to go free and proclaiming the innocent guilty is a travesty against justice and the true welfare of society.

II.Jury Nullification Makes No Distinction Between Good Law And Bad Law

In his work "Empowering Juries and Weakening Democracy" Steve Chapman states, "Advocates could do more to publicize that the measure would let juries effectively suspend not only bad laws but good laws, and not just in rare cases but in common ones. Prosecutors say that it could be invoked in up to half of all criminal trials- and might offer a refuge not only for those defendants charged with "victimless" offenses like drug use and prostitution but also domestic abuse, drunk driving and statutory rape. As the puckish legal scholar Herbert Wexler once put it in reference to jury nullification, "What"s sauce for the goose depends on whose ox is being bored." If you allow juries to acquit pot-smoking invalids, you have to let them give a pass to husbands who slap the missus around or good old boys who fail roadside sobriety tests. Good laws and bad laws alike can be overridden."

What Steve Chapman shows us rather humorously in this example is that under the same legal exceptions a jury can make towards defendants being prosecuted for "victimless" offenses, they may also let those guilty of more sever crimes that infringe on the freedom of others go free. Laws may be reformed by proper processes, but this form of jury vigilantism opens the door to increased crime because of the precedent of exception and a legal system which subjectively changes from case to case being run by the individual"s personal beliefs. This inequality is highly unjust and is not good for society.

III.Jury Nullification Risks Anarchy And Complete Subversion Of The Law

Circuit Judge Leventhal writes, "This so-called right of jury nullification is put forward in the name of liberty and democracy, but its explicit avowal risks the ultimate logic of anarchy. This is the concern voiced by Judge Sobeloff in United States v. Moylan : to encourage individuals to make their own determination as to which laws they will obey and which they will permit themselves as a matter of conscience to disobey is to invite chaos. No legal system could long survive if it gave every individual the option of disregarding with impunity any law which by his personal standard was judged as morally untenable. Toleration of such conduct would not be democratic, as appellants claim, but inevitably anarchic."

Judge Leventhal shows us the dangerous potential of jury nullification and the logical conclusion of what it could mean if taken to its furthest extremes- anarchy. Anarchy by definition cannot be just. Justice regards law and anarchy regards absence of law, and as such an absence of justice. So justice is violated and society is hurt by jury nullification.
Objectivity

Pro

Objectivity forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
aburk903

Con

I extend my case from round two as it has not been countered. I hope my opponent is well.
Objectivity

Pro

Objectivity forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
aburk903

Con

Shame to see a good topic go to waste. Vote Con, ladies and gentlemen.
Objectivity

Pro

Objectivity forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Objectivity 2 years ago
Objectivity
Sure, I do LD in real life so that would be most preferable
Posted by aburk903 2 years ago
aburk903
Objectivity, I see from your profile that you enjoy LD format. Care to continue this debate in that format?
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