I imagine most of you by now have heard about the policeman in Connersville that rescued an injured fawn and nursed it back to health. A Department of Natural Resources officer issued a ticket, the DNR ordered the deer killed, and the policeman and his wife now face possible fines and jail time. As you would expect, and as it should have, the case has raised a great deal of sympathy and support for the dependents, and a great deal of scorn and disgust for the DNR. I’m glad to see it is also raising awareness of a much underpublicized and underutilized resource we have as citizens. Jury nullification.
Article 1, Section 19, of Indiana’s Constitution says: In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts.
It simply means, if you are on a jury, you get to judge the law...not just the defendant. If a law is so bad that it would send a person to jail for demonstrating an act of compassion, you can find the defendant not guilty. It’s just that simple.
I hope a lot of people will familiarize themselves with the concept of jury nullification because of this particular case. I also hope they will discuss it with their friends, and then the next time they are on a jury where the defendants are charged with a crime wherein no one was hurt or defrauded, and the only thing that was threatened was government power, I hope they will use the power they have to save the defendant from suffering because of an unjust law.
I know I will.
By the way, if you would like to learn more about your rights and jury nullification, please visit The Fully Informed Jury Association at http://fija.org/