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Should Jury Nullification Be Used to Reduce Ethnic and Racial Inequities? (From Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Crime and Criminology, Fifth Edition, P 188-199, 1998, Richard C. Monk, ed. -- See NCJ-183062)

NCJ Number
Paul Butler; Randall Kennedy
Richard C. Monk
Date Published
12 pages
A professor at the George Washington University Law School notes that a vastly disproportionate number of blacks are under the auspices of the criminal justice system and argues that black jurors should acquit black defendants of certain crimes regardless of whether they perceive the defendant to be guilty; another professor at Harvard Law School maintains that allowing black criminals to go free does not help minorities, especially since their victims are likely to be other blacks.
In theory, during a trial, the judge decides on correct legal procedures and matters of legal interpretation. Juries decide the guilt or innocence of the defendant, based on the evidence. Jury nullification, in which a jury acquits a defendant even though guilt has been proven, can be seen throughout U.S. history. One professor encourages jurors to acquit black defendants in many cases to remedy past and current discrimination in the criminal justice system. The other professor argues that the need to convict a murderer and the need to protest the intolerability of official racism must remain separate if either need is to be met. He believes that promoting jury nullification as a legitimate way to right racial wrongs will only worsen the crime situation in black communities.