Jury Nullification

For more than six hundred years -- that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 -- there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such law.

--Lysander Spooner, The Right of Juries

If a juror accepts as the law that which the judge states then that juror has accepted the exercize of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered a power and a right that once was the citizen's safeguard of liberty.

-- Bancroft, History of the Constitution

When a jury acquits a defendent even though he or she clearly appears to be guilty, the acquittal conveys significant information about community attitudes and provides a guideline for future prosecutorial discretion...Because of the high acquittal rate in prohibition cases in the 1920s and early 1930s, prohibition laws could not be enforced. The repeal of these laws is traceable to the refusal of juries to convict those accused of alcohol traffic.

-- Sheflin and Van Dyke, "Law and Contemorary Problems," 43, No. 4, 1980

It is not only the juror's right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the directions of the court.

-- John Adams

Do not annoy people at home.
Do not pester them at work.
Leave them alone, or they will curse you.


If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence.
-- 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, US v Moylan, 1969

Every jury in the land is tampered with and falsely instructed by the judge when it is told that it must accept as the law that which has been given to them, or that they can decide only the facts of the case.
-- Lord Denham, O'Connell v Rex (1884)

The jury has the power to bring in a verdict in the teeth of both the law and the facts.
-- Justice Holmes, Homing v District of Columbia, 138 (1920)