Race-Based Jury Nullification CJA/344 August 15, 2011 Amberly Montoya, Curtis Sweed, David Green, Dennis Dewitt, Heather Feeley, & Michael Geist
The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees all persons due process and equal protection of the laws, and this has been applied to also mean that any person charged with a crime is afforded a jury of her or his peers A person should be judge on the bases of the law. Do we want a system that is flexible and affords a jury of peers some right to change the outcome of a trial based on what seems fair to their community The argument of race based jury nullification is because it is a practice that has been happening for years in this country. In the 1960’s many all white jurors were able to sentence a person of race because of the members on the jury. Why can not a all racial juror find a person a race not guilty Jury nullification has also appeared in the media, both observed by newspaper journalists and created by television series directors. Many believe that juries that racially identify with the criminal defendant and deliver a not guilty verdict—where the evidence appears to overwhelmingly point to guilt—have engaged in jury nullification. For Race-Based Jury Nullification
Against Raced-Based Jury Nullification Despite the burden of proof, some jurors elect not to convict or to convict a person based solely on their skin color. Jury Nullification is wrong but hard to avoid. In most cases, the prosecution, the defense team and the judge have the right to put a juror on the panel or dismiss them from jury duty. The line of questioning submitted by everyone is to ensure that the trial is fair. People should be committed for their criminal actions or acquitted for their lack of involvement in a criminal act. Looking pass the law and taking the role of a vigilante is not the letter of the law but applies to the moral of a single or group of people. The fourteenth amendment guarantees that everyone has a right to a fair trial, using jury nullification voids the terms of that agreement.
Pros & Cons of Race-Based Jury Nullification Pros: Keeps guilty offenders incarcerated. Ensures that there are fair trials. Keeps one less criminal off the streets and from committing similar or the same crimes again. Cons: Has the possibility to set guilty offenders free. Jurors base their verdicts on their personal feelings instead of the facts presented to them by the court. Can create an extremely biased jury panel.
Examples of Race-Based Nullifications The Scottsboro Trial In 1931, nine African American teenaged males were charged with raping two females. This occurred when the African American males fought with white males. The nine males was arrested and convicted on rape charges which was punishable by death during the early 1930’s. Even after several appeals, only one of the nine men made it out of prison alive 15 years later after Alabama admitted they gave the youth a unfair case. This case was known as the Scottsboro trial.
Real-Life Examples The Beating of Rodney King 4 white officers were acquitted for use of excessive force. Their was a jury of 10 white people, 1 Hispanic and 1 Filipina persons Riots occurred because of the verdict Jewish Scholar stabbed by Black Mob Incident occurred 1991 Man was stabbed after a Religious Jewish Motorcade ran over a young boy. Mainly African American jury Jury members later found partying with Nelson
Real Life Examples
Setting an innocent person free Convicting an innocent person Think with your head and not your heart You were a family member of the victim Team Position on Race-Based Jury Nullification
References History.com. (4/29/1992). Rodney King Trial Verdict Announced. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rodney-king-trial-verdict-announced Leo, J. (10/8/1995). The Color of the Law. US News . Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rodney-king-trial-verdict-announced