Jury Nullification—Not Guilty Because It’s A Stupid Law, Your Honor!

Jury nullification strikes terror into the hearts and minds of prosecutors, district attorneys, and judges. While the issue can be complicated, let me simplify it.

If you serve on a criminal jury, deciding the guilt or innocence of an accused person, you can decide to judge the law. That’s right! You can decide for yourself whether the law is valid or not. If you decide the law is stupid, insane, unconstitutional, arbitrary, racially motivated, unethical, or invalid on its face, you can choose to vote ‘Not Guilty”.

Here’s an example. You’re called for jury duty to sit in judgment of a young man of twenty. He’s been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to resale.  He was sitting in his living-room, smoking a joint, when the police knocked on his door to ask about a missing person in the neighborhood. The cops smelled pot, went into his house, and found his two-ounce stash in a cigar box on the coffee table.  The young man was arrested.

Now the young man has decided to fight the charges and has opted for a jury trial.  Good for him!

You’ve listened to the evidence presented. There’s no doubt that the young man was in possession of the pot (though the reselling charge is ridiculous). You’re now in the jury room to decide his fate.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. Even though you know the law is stupid (vices are not crimes), that the total court case has been a sham (prosecutors love these fail-safe cases for public brownie points), and the judge has instructed you that you are to decide ONLY on the law, (judges won’t dare discuss jury nullification), KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!  Don’t announce that the law is idiotic, that the prosecutor is a jerk, that the police have nothing better to do than roust people, that the judge is not interested in justice, just vote NOT GUILTY!

If you tell the other jury members that you’re voting “not guilty” by reason of Jury Nullification, some juror will tell the judge. At the least you’ll be removed from the jury, and at worst you’ll be arrested. That’s right, ARRESTED!

See, judges don’t like it when the great unwashed decide for themselves the validity of the law. That’s why they get the big, black robes. Not for being judges of justice, but being executioners for the law.

Prosecutors don’t like jury nullification it as it takes TV time away from them and makes them look foolish (not that they need any help). Instead of going after violent criminals and corrupt government officials, they’d rather find the easy court victory over some poor shmuck minding his own business.

To be fair, not all judges and prosecutors are this way; just 95% of them.

Jury nullification has a long and honored past.  It deserves resurrection and used often in the criminal injustice system to safeguard the rights of individuals against undue and oppressive prosecution and judges who uphold immoral and unconstitutional laws.

For more information on Jury Nullification, these are excellent websites.








“In criminal trials, the jury has the power to ‘judge’ the justice of the law according to their own conscience, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive. In our system of checks and balances, the jury has the final veto. It is our last peaceful safeguard against oppressive law and tyranny.
The Florida Jury Power Association

Thanks to the Florida Jury Power Association for that concise statement.

It’s time to stop stupid laws and immoral prosecutors and judges. So remember, YOU can decide the validity of the law–just keep it to yourself. And give ’em the Harry Statel Finger Wave for me!

Harry Statel


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