A defense of Jury Nullification
Thom Brook’s concern for the credibility for the juries’ decision to nullify rulings is evidently the reason that led him to write the article. He conducts an explicit study of both critics and supporters of jury nullification. Given the reality of circumstances and considering the special exceptions that are often overlooked by judges in their rulings, Brook gives a convincing argument supporting the role of Juries in nullification. He gives his argument in defense of the idea of jury nullification under special circumstances at a time when, in both Britain and the United States of America, there are rising cases of contradictions and debates over the extent of the Juries’ rights and powers. By the year 2003, both nations had experienced controversies and concerns over the increased cases of jury nullification that seem against the law.
The author studied and compared the arguments of earlier writers of both sides of the debate. Some of the critics include Robin Auld in his article; Criminal Law Review, who states that the idea of jury nullification violates and defies the law. Ian Dennis asserts that jury nullification is not only illogical but also against their oaths of office in his article in response and support Auld titled The Auld Review. He also cites John Rawl’s A Theory of Justice that supports the juries’ duties by considering the impartiality and reasonableness of verdicts.He also used cases such as the famous Bushell’s case involving William Penn and William Mead where Lord Vaughan who had a reputation of protecting juries from their controversial verdicts.
Brook succeeded in examining the credibility and logic in both sides of the debate. He quoted both famous critics and supporters such as Lord Vaugan and addressed their arguments. He restrained from giving his opinion and relied on the evidence of the practicability of the issues in examples.
Not only does the author rely on legally sourced evidence to build his argument but also the articles of previous researcher on the subject. This helps him to create a wide range of views and convince a wide audience of readers especially considering the fact that juries do not rely on professionalism like the judges. I believe that this approach makes his article convincing.
Brook’s most compelling argument, in my opinion, would be the fact that the role of the jury, as unprofessional people, would be assessing the sanity and practicability of the rulings. Limiting their powers from nullifying cases they deem unfit and exaggerated would render them useless in the judicial system altogether. The jury, he notes, determines the applicability of the law in particular cases rather than apply the law on every case (as the judges do).
The author also gave other convincing arguments such as showing the role of jury in ensuring that justice is not only served but also manifested evidently in the situation. In perverse and mistaken verdicts, for instance, the jury has the responsibility on ensuring that offenders pay a worthy price to ensure the publics’ faith and confidence in the national judicial system. I find this argument because it shows the importance of the jury in ensuring the publics’ support and faith necessary for them to rely in a system that can protect them by serving justice fairly.
Among the weakest arguments is the role of the jury in giving general verdicts. The author admits that it is difficult to determine whether the verdict is based on law, facts or a combination of both. This exposes the limitations of the jury.
I feel that in his conclusion, Brook gave a credible justification of his arguments by giving a summarized version of the purpose of this article. He not showed why he supported jury nullification but also why the critics’ arguments are invalid and insufficient to justify the removal of role of jury in nullifications of rulings.
The lamp that show that freedom lives – it is worth the candle?
Penny Darbyshire wrote the article; The lamp that show that freedom lives – it is worth the candle? In her efforts to show that the juries are not worth the praise they get and do not deserve appreciation for playing a major role in stabilizing the judicial system. Darbyshire writes in 1991 at a time when jury trials are popular and is furious at the supporters of the jury trials who seem to make the jury as an extremely important tool in ensuring that justice is served.
In her entire article, Darbyshire is bias because she does not examine research articles by critics of jury trial s (of which ideas she supports). Instead, she focuses on confronting the jury defenders without the support of earlier writers. The supporters include Freeman Bankowski and Mungam who, in a particular case, supported the nullification of the jury and correction of the law after trial.
The author strove to examine arguments of both sides of the debate but focused on the insufficiency of the jury defenders’ arguments rather than build her argument using her evidence and previous researchers. Ultimately, she over-emphasized on criticizing the evidence and views of the opposing writers leading to an imbalance in her argument. For example, she used most of the space in the article to explain notions held by jury defenders rather than showing the inability of the jury in helping the judicial service in its mandate to provide justice to the public.
Darbyshire chose to use a wide range of sources for her argument apart from the legally sourced evidences such as recorded cases. She dwelt on the notions that both the public and defenders of the jury trials that are also gaining popularity and not recorded. She shows how these beliefs emanated from a misunderstanding of a historical statement; the Magna Carta that used the word ‘peers’ as lawful determinants of a verdict.
The most convincing and compelling argument, in my opinion, was Darbyshire’s explanation of the increasing and unquestionable praises and dependence of the people in the jury. Since they are not professionals, it is a risky affair to let them have powers to correct and rewrite the law consequently giving them the central role in the judicial system when there are professionals available. The author’s concern of the jury as a gradual replacement of the law according to their equity and sympathy is justified and convincing.
Other convincing arguments include the fact that the legislature can no longer be in control to enforce the law especially when harsh laws are disregarded and nullified. Moreover, the jury may be incompetent from the irrational selection causing inaccurate and risky verdicts.
Darbyshire’s argument on the misconception of the Magna Carta as the provision and description of the role of the jury is not sufficiently convincing. Moreovver, she strove to prove the misuse of the work ‘right’ to show that the juries are powerless in most situations. I found her arguments weak and unsatisfactory.
In her conclusion, Darbyshire restated and constrained herself to show her arguments in relation to the purpose of her paper. She, for instance, shows how praising the jury is unjustifiable and how the misconception of ‘peers’ the Magna Carta has evolved in history to rapidly gain popularity for jury trials.
I find the Thom Brook’s A defense of Jury Nullification, more convincing and reasonable because the writer examines a variety of research article and gives and explicit study of the topic. Brook relies on previous works and avoids using his opinion without evidences. In The lamp that show that freedom lives – it is worth the candle?, on the other hand, Penny Darbyshire dwells on her grievance and disgust in the existing notions rather than give sufficient evidence for her claims.
Penny Darbyshire. The Lamp that shows that freedom lives – Is It Worth the Candle? Journal of criminal procedure, Criminal law Review. L.R. Oct, 740-752 1991.
Thom Brooks. A Defense of Jury Nullification. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands. Print. Res Public 10: 401-423, 2004