New Hampshire Bar Association
About the Bar
For Members
For the Public
Legal Links
Online Store
Vendor Directory
NH Bar Foundation
Judicial Branch

A confidential, independent resource for NH lawyers, judges and law students.

Trust your transactions to the only payment solution recommended by over 50 bar associations.
New Hampshire Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service Law Related Education NHBA CLE NHBA Insurance Agency
Member Login
Member Portal

Bar News - January 18, 2013

Nullification: When Jurors Are More Than Fact-Finders

Jury Nullification: New Law Sparks Intense Debate

The state’s jury nullification statute, which went into effect Jan. 1, has sparked not only disputes over the precise mandate of the law’s language, but also philosophical discussions about the juror’s role in the legal system.

The statute refers to the de facto power of juries to find a defendant not guilty, even when the state has proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This power stems from the prohibition against punishing jurors for their verdicts and the principle of double jeopardy, which prohibits retrial after acquittal.

This month, NH Bar News features two perspectives on the new law, which appears to be the first of its kind in the nation. New Hampshire Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice and veteran defense attorney Mark Sisti have laid out their positions on the issue in two opinion pieces on page 4.

Sisti and co-author Jared Bedrick argue that jury nullification is a historical prerogative of juries that is essential to their ability to "do the right thing" in deciding some criminal cases. Rice maintains that encouraging nullification negates the legislative system of debating and passing laws that apply to everyone.

The new law, while not mentioning jury nullification by name, states: "that in all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy."

The law is almost sure to be the subject of future litigation in New Hampshire. In the meantime, "jury nullification" is a phrase that is about to become a lot more common in the state’s criminal courtrooms.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

Home | About the Bar | For Members | For the Public | Legal Links | Publications | Online Store
Lawyer Referral Service | Law-Related Education | NHBA•CLE | NHBA Insurance Agency | NHMCLE
Search | Calendar

New Hampshire Bar Association
2 Pillsbury Street, Suite 300, Concord NH 03301
phone: (603) 224-6942 fax: (603) 224-2910
© NH Bar Association Disclaimer