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South Dakota and Jury nulification

Paul Marks reports on some interesting developments in the USA… and the politico-legal establishment do not like it one bit!

Our old friend jury nulification is back. For those people who have not heard of jury nulification it is the doctrine that a jury has the right to judge, not just the ”facts of the case”, but THE LAW as well. All the Founding Fathers of the United States believed in this doctrine, but it tends to make modern legal folk froth with rage – things like the “war on drugs” might get into some difficulty if jury nulification makes a come back.

This November in South Dakota an amendment to the Constitution of the State will be on the ballot. The amendment will explicitly give a defendent the right to argue against the law (whether in terms of what it makes illegal or in terms of the severity of the sentance) .

Now I am not claiming that the admendment will pass (no doubt the legal establishment will do just about anything to defeat it), but it would be interesting to see “judge made” and “politician made” law mitigated by a real jury.

Of course, I should not assume that a jury would be more libertarian than a judge or a group of politicians in a legislature – but it may put an obstruction in the way of the statists.

Paul Marks

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