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How Should Jury Nullification Be Used?

This thesis by Karen Cummins deals with the topic of jury nullification, its meaning, history, legality, significance and value to our society, the opinions of the Courts, and the messages being sent by jurors to the general public and the judiciary.

The Role of Jury Nullification in the Legal Process

My name is Karen Cummins. I live in Beaufort, South Carolina and am currently the senior paralegal with the law firm of Ralph V. Baldwin, Jr., Attorney at Law, LLC. I am a NALS Certified Paralegal, with 30 plus years of professional experience. My education consists of a Master of Professional Studies from GWU, a B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration from Park University and an A.A. in Public Service and Paralegal studies. My expertise is in, family law, criminal defense, personal injury, and medical malpractice litigation. My affiliations include the SC Association for Justice and American Association for Justice. I am a member of the International Who’s Who of Professionals, the Pinnacle Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, National Association of Legal Staff, Legal Staff of South Carolina and the Hilton Head Legal Staff Professionals.


Throughout history, the role of a jury is to listen to the facts and apply them to community standards because there were no written codes to violate at that time.

Jury nullification or the rights of juries to make decisions based on their judgment and conscious has been a factor since the beginning of our country. Section II of this writing provides the definition of jury nullification. Section III discusses the history of jury nullification while Section IV relates to jury’s rights. Section V addresses the United States Constitution’s support of jury nullification and Section VI provides case law and articles regarding jury nullification. Section VII discusses jury nullification and the rule of law, Section VIII compares jury nullification to the case of Miranda v. Arizona, Section IX discusses the implications and recommendations to jury nullification and Section X concludes this writing.



When defining jury nullification, it appears to be an injustice to society departing from all our Constitution has laid out for us. Jury nullification is an interesting phenomenon simply because it contradicts everything that, as an American society, we are led to believe by our lawmakers.

Historically, juries have been tasked with certain responsibilities. Juries are required to listen to the facts of a case and determine, by those facts, whether an individual is guilty or not of the crime of which he has been charged. They are to listen to the judge as he charges them with the law and their responsibilities to it, and make a decision accordingly.Jury nullification is not about the acquittal of minorities for the sake of sending a message, it is about humanizing the Defendant, the circumstances surrounding the issue, and setting aside the letter of the law just because it may be, in the eyes of the jurors, the right thing to do. Jury nullification should be viewed liberally, taking into account all aspects of the criminal justice process as well as the individual and the circumstances involved. “We the People”, as stated in the United States Constitution, can have an entirely different connotation when taking these issues into consideration. An individual has the right to be tried by an impartial jury as provided by Amendment VI of the United States Constitution. The people of the United States have been charged with a civil duty to determine the fate of those accused as well as a moral duty to do what is just and proper for us because we are the people.

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