What Everyone Should Know About the
Clay S. Conrad is an attorney in private practice in Houston, Texas.
Contents: Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. The Origins of the Doctrine; 3. Revolutionary Times; 4. The Development of the Modern View; 5. The Modern Era; 6. The Current Debate; 7. Scapegoating the Jury; 8. The Capital Jury; 9. The Obligations of Jury Duty; 10. The Lawyer’s Challenge; 11. Summary; Index.
"Trust in the jury is, after all, one of the cornerstones of our entire criminal jurisprudence, and if that trust is without foundation we must re-examine a great deal more than just the nullification doctrine." Judge David L. Bazelon
There may be no feature more distinctive of American legal culture than the criminal trial jury. Americans have a deep and stubborn devotion to the belief that the guilt or innocence of a person accused of crime can only be judged fairly by a "jury of his peers." This notion is a particularly American one, although it was inherited from English common law during the Colonial era.
What Jury Independence Is All About
Jury independence is a simple doctrine, although in individual applications it has occasionally had dramatic and wide-ranging implications. The doctrine states that jurors in criminal trials have the right to refuse to convict if they believe that a conviction would be in some way unjust. If jurors believe enforcing the law in a specific case would cause an injustice, it is their prerogative to acquit. If they believe a law is unjust, or misapplied, or that it never was, or never should have been, intended to cover a case such as the one they are facing, it is their duty to see justice done.