Twelve Absent Men: Rebuilding the American Jury. "Juries hear only 4 percent of criminal trials in America. Their decline has fostered radical punitiveness, but reforms and novel institutions are breathing new life into the jury and civic participation more broadly."
Scott Horton at Harpers.org writes about Julian P. Heicklen, a 78-year-old retired chemistry professor from New Jersey, now faces federal criminal charges for informing people entering the federal courthouse about the doctrine of jury nullification. Scott Horton's post is a response to the New York Times column on Mr. Heicklen. [more inside]
I’ve spent the better part of the week serving as the foreman for a jury in a criminal case. As they tell you, you’re not allowed to talk about it with anyone, not even your fellow jurors, during the trial. As they also tell you, once the trial is over you can talk about anything you want. So, here goes.
Jury nullification, a situation in which jurors acquit in a criminal trial even if the facts favor conviction (often because the jurors disagree with the law), is of ancient provenance in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Courts are ambivalent towards it, regarding it both as quasi-illegal (they'll remove jurors if they catch them during the attempt) and as something that they cannot overturn once it happens. Nullification has furthered many causes, from anti-death-penalty to pro-southern-lynchings. Lawyers can't mention it in court on pain of contempt, but some hope to educate people in other ways.
The first criminal trial without a jury to take place in England and Wales in more than 400 years begins tomorrow. [more inside]
Laywer/novelist Scott Turow (non-wp, non-reg-req. link) and Nat Hentoff discuss the DOJ's decision to release a declassified document detailing the possible charges against Jose Padilla, at the same time as the U.S. Supreme Court nears a decision on the constitutionality of holding Padilla without due process ... "So at this point, you have no plans to present any of this to a grand jury?"
U.S. Embassy bomber given life sentence. This is kind of the flipside of the McVeigh execution; Saudi man helps bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi which kills 213 people. Jury cannot agree to execute him, as some believe he would become a martyr for the cause, and others believe this wouldn't "alleviate the suffering of the victims or family members". Why is this any different from the McVeigh situation?