Originally created 04/22/01

Nullifications peril jury system



Taking a swipe at our sacred system of selecting a dozen of our peers to determine guilt or innocence in a court of law may seem unbecoming, if not downright un-American. Despite this, there is a problem that cries out for attention, in light of the increase in incidences: jury nullification.

Citizens have been aware of its existence, but only since O.J. Simpson and more recently, Sean "Puffy" Combs and the like, has there been a face put on it. We are now seeing increasing numbers of trials resulting in race-tainted verdicts, with the exclusion of hard and uncontrovertible evidence presented in court.

The reason race trumps rational decision-making is that, due to perceived past victimization by other races (which has been instilled since childhood), some jury members may feel that this is pay-back time.

How just is justice by jury nowadays? It's still all we have, and it's better than any alternative imaginable.

A remedy has been suggested that would allow a verdict using a vote tally of something less than unanimity. No matter what, it becomes obvious that any possible solution is a lot harder to find than it is to find those who will readily stand up and admit that there is this increasing problem to face.

After all, what could possibly be more important than our system of justice?

Andy Chandler, Augusta