The Instigator
redsoxfreak010
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
hrvdbnd2013
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points

Resolved: In the United States, the principle of jury nullification is a just check on government.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
hrvdbnd2013
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,116 times Debate No: 11274
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)

 

redsoxfreak010

Con

I will await my opponents case. This debate will follow a LD structure. Good luck
hrvdbnd2013

Pro

"Law and justice are not always the same." Because I agree with Gloria Steinmen, I stand in firm affirmation of today's resolution Resolved: In the United States, jury nullification is a just check on government. The law as recorded by our founding fathers was meant to be a framework of society, not to be the rule indelibly. It is up to the judicial branch to interpret the law as it is meant to apply in our society. Jury nullification has been an established part of American law for centuries. One prime example is the Bushell's Case of 1670, in which William Penn and William Mead, two prominent Quaker leaders, were put on trial for unlawful assembly and disturbance of the peace. When Penn was asked how he pled, Penn answered with a long explanation and argued that the jurors should go "behind" the law and engage their consciences as to whether or not he deserved to be judged and punished as guilty. The judge admonished Penn and instructed the jury to ignore Penn's plea. In addition, he instructed them that Penn's admissions had constituted an admission of guilt. Despite such instruction from the judge, after extended deliberation, the jury returned a not-guilty verdict for both Penn and Mead. The judge disagreed, imposing a fine upon the jury for rendering a decision contrary to evidence and his instructions. One juror, Bushell, refused to pay his fine. The case eventually reached the highest court of its time, the Court of Common Pleas, where it was ruled that jurors could not be punished for a not-guilty verdict, no matter how vigorously the judge might disagree with the outcome
The value I offer in today's debate is that of morality, or the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. Something that is just in the resolution is based on what is morally right and fair. Jury nullification in a criminal case occurs when the jury or a juror assumes a right not just to decide whether the defendant committed the crime but also whether he should be convicted of it. The jury goes beyond the question of the defendant's guilt to a further question of, despite his guilt, should he be convicted? The jury will look at the motivation of the crime committed, and not just simply as a law infraction. Ordinarily, a finding of guilt automatically leads to a conviction. Nullification is a decision by the jury to provide mercy rather than justice.
My criterion is John Locke's Second Treatise of Government in which Locke expresses his view of the social contract between the people and the government, with the power lying in the hands of the former, being that of the people. Locke's social contract states that in a situation where the people oppose a government's actions, it is not only their right, but also their obligation to repel those actions and laws. He states that when any branch of government acts contrary to the trust of the people, it is the people that must judge in the end. The government was made for the people, by the people. Logically, it should be the people who are making the decisions of guilt in a court of law.
Contention One: Jury nullification checks government in preventing the spread of tyranny and unjust rule.
The principle of jury nullification is a just check on government in the United States because it prevents the spread of tyranny and unjust rule. John Locke defines tyranny as "the exercise of power beyond right." In a democratic society like the United States, it is up to the people to justly check the government in order to ensure that society does not become subject to a rule of tyranny or injustice. Jury nullification serves as a vessel for such a check on government. According to Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., of Los Angeles Valley College, jury nullification is "a check against the bias of judges and the irrationality and corruption that creeps steadily into the law, as irresponsible legislators and judges think about things other than justice. … The jury is the last line of defense, the last check and balance, against tyrannical government, if, that is, it is charged with determining the justice of a case and not just with blindly applying the law as given by a judge." Thus, if a jury follows the layout of the law and the instructions of the judge with "blind obedience," the need for a jury is eliminated and this is unconstitutional. With that in mind, jury nullification is a form of responding to unjust rule by nullifying said rule. Such action is in sync with Locke's argument of judgment of the laws and the rulers by the people and, thus upholding a just and morally right and fair society.
Contention Two: Jury nullification allows the people to protest unjust laws.
Jury nullification is most often used when the jury regards the law under which the defendant is being charged as unjust. Jury nullification is rooted deep in the history of our nation. Many juries often refused to convict violators of unjust laws such as the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1850 and the Alien and Sedition Acts of the late eighteenth century. Just as men and women in the past, including Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, have practiced civil disobedience to protest government action, so does a jury nullifying a law practice civil disobedience. According to Radley Balko, editor of Reason magazine and former policy analyst with the Cato Institute, it is not only the right of a jury to nullify unjust laws, but their obligation. On the principle of jury nullification, Balko states that the concept "may seem radical, perhaps even subversive, but jury nullification serves as an important safeguard against unjust laws, as well as the unfair application of well-intended laws." Such a safeguard against unjust laws is Locke-supported action against an unjust government, thus allowing a just and morally fair and right society to survive.
Contention Three: Jury nullification checks against abuses of power by the legislature and executive agencies.
By serving as a last line of defense against unjust laws and unequal application of such laws, juries serve as a defense against politically gridlocked legislatures and deeply flawed social institutions.
Abramson, Jeffrey. 1998. "Two Ideals of Jury Deliberation." The University of Chicago Legal Forum. Volume 125.
Jury Nullification permits jurors to make their own response to official lawlessness, when they essentially set the defendant free rather than ratify the misconduct that built the case against him. Of course, sensibly exercising the nullifying power will require jurors to weigh the gravity of the crime against the severity and frequency of the misconduct. We certainly would not encourage jurors to refuse to convict an obviously guilty murderer simply as a way of condemning a prosecutor who suborned perjury. But in the case of a nonviolent drug crime, jury refusals to go along with a borderline legal sting operation may well foster rather than undermine respect for law. In the above sort of cases, jurors revolt not against the law itself, but against the silliness of applying the law in certain situations or against the rottenness of the agents enforcing it. What about those grander instances where the jury nullifies to declare its rejection of the law itself as unjust? Several Michigan juries have apparently done just that, refusing to convict Dr. Jack Kevorkian of violating state law against physician-assisted suicide even though Kevorkian has defiantly admitted his acts. The pluralist model seeks to make room for jury nullification as jury revolt. While it is true that we elect legislators, not jurors, to pass laws, we continue to call on jurors to decide if even duly enacted laws remain worthy of enforcement.
Debate Round No. 1
redsoxfreak010

Con

redsoxfreak010 forfeited this round.
hrvdbnd2013

Pro

So are you really done? No offense but that's crazy!!!!!
Debate Round No. 2
redsoxfreak010

Con

redsoxfreak010 forfeited this round.
hrvdbnd2013

Pro

hrvdbnd2013 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
redsoxfreak010

Con

redsoxfreak010 forfeited this round.
hrvdbnd2013

Pro

Alrighty then. Well since my opponent forfeited I guess all that I can say is that uhmm. . . . jury nullification is a just check on goverment. Vote aff!
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by WakeUpCall 6 years ago
WakeUpCall
I really hope the Con didn't just want to steal your case.
Posted by hrvdbnd2013 6 years ago
hrvdbnd2013
The person who was being tried in this case was Wiliam Penn, the person who established the colony of Pennslyvania, so this was a part of American law because the case was tried on American soil. This case was also used as a precedent in the years following the verdict.
Posted by Clockwork 6 years ago
Clockwork
The fact that America wasn't established until the mid-late 1700s would be one reason.
Posted by AnthonyLiardo 6 years ago
AnthonyLiardo
Technically jury nullification is not an established part of American law because it is De Facto.
Yes, it has been found to be implied in amendment 6 in supreme court, but it is not technically written law.
Posted by hrvdbnd2013 6 years ago
hrvdbnd2013
Uhhmm...would you like to elaborate just a little Clockwork on as to why "Jury nullification has been an established part of American law for centuries. One prime example is the Bushell's Case of 1670" is an epic fail?
Posted by Clockwork 6 years ago
Clockwork
Jury nullification has been an established part of American law for centuries. One prime example is the Bushell's Case of 1670"

Epic fail.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by hrvdbnd2013 6 years ago
hrvdbnd2013
redsoxfreak010hrvdbnd2013Tied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07