IanMasters Jury Nullification PAPER 1.pdf

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Now that I have laid out a general “roadmap” of the direction this paper is to take, I will
disclose a bit about myself, the author. In this way, you might better understand where this paper
is headed and just who it is that is at the wheel. First, and perhaps most revealing, I am a
member of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) and I have taken part in the reform efforts
and promotional campaigns of the organization.
FIJA is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization aiming to inform Americans about their
rights, powers, and responsibilities when serving as trial jurors. Among the goals enumerated in
the FIJA mission statement are to “educate Americans regarding their full powers as jurors,
including their ability to rely on personal conscience, to judge the merit of the law and its
application, and to nullify bad law, when necessary for justice . . . .” FIJA works to restore the
political function of the jury as the final check and balance on our American system of
While I believe that jury independence is an important right of the citizenry, a necessity
of healthy government, and a critical element of a respectable criminal justice system, I am well
aware of its potential hazards. My support of jury independence should not be construed as
ignorance of these criticisms but rather an opinion that any potential shortcomings are less
destructive to justice as a whole than a system in which jurors are relegated to mere “finders of
fact” with no power to nullify unjust laws.