Jury nullification is a legal term that refers to a specific action taken by a jury. Jury nullification occurs when a jury’s verdict is held contrary to the weight of evidence or the witness statements made in a trial case. The process in essence, occurs when the verdict reached is held in contrast to the letter of the law, or the official rule of legislative enactment. The process is not held in disagreement with a judge, but instead, the process concerns what the law states.
A jury verdict which is held in contrast to the letter of the law strictly pertains only to the particular case in question. That being said, if a pattern of similar verdicts develops in response to consecutive attempts to prosecute a offense, it will eventually be ruled de facto. In this regard, a jury nullification is a resource used by the general public to express a distinct sentiment regarding a law or a piece of legislation. If enough opposition is expressed and repeated instances of jury nullification are present in a particular law, the legislative bodies will convene to alter the specifics of the law.
Jury nullification, at first thought sounds like an ineffective or fraudulent practice, however, it is simply a function of the common citizen. The jury system was established to terminate corruption in the process of reaching a verdict. It was originally feared that a single judge or a panel of government officials would be influenced to follow the established legal practice, even if the laws are obsolete or prejudiced. Jury nullification is a byproduct of the random citizen selection; if the opinions of the public remain contrary to a single law, overwhelming evidence exists to alter the established law.