Denver’s city attorney has directed the police and sheriff’s department to stop arresting people passing out jury nullification literature in front of the courthouse.
I’ve written about jury nullification: Jury nullification: a traditional doctrine in the law that lawyers are not supposed to talk about
Jury nullification describes a jury’s decision to reject a conviction because they believe a law is unjust. Of course, prosecutors and judges don’t want jurors to know they have that power. But they do have that power, it’s got a long tradition in Anglo American jurisprudence, and there is no reason for not letting jurors know it. Will it be abused on some occasions? Sure it will. Will the prosecutor abuse his power on some occasions? Hell yes, on many occasions, probably a lot more than jurors will ever do.
The one hold-out juror in the theater shooting trial of James Holmes abused her power by being the lone hold out on the death penally assuring that Holmes would only get life without parole. There’s an easy remedy for that, and it’s to stop requiring a 100% majority in juror sentencing decisions. That rule makes it almost impossible to ever give anyone the death penalty. That was not a case of juror nullification, it was a case of a juror lying on voir dire when she said she was not ideologically opposed to the death penalty.