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   Danger ahead -- the nullification of the Congress

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1/23/2010 7:35 am

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Entered 1/23/2010, Updated 1/23/2010

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There hasn't been so much heated discussion of "nullification" since the OJ trial. You remember that culture-clash moment in American Justice, don't you? When OJ Simpson, the former NFL star turned actor, was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend? The 1995 courtroom spectacle in Los Angeles has been described as the most publicized criminal trial in American history. Its outcome — an acquittal in the face of reasonably damning evidence — has also been cited as one of the most glaring examples of a legal phenomenon known as "jury nullification." Put simply, jury nullification is the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her. It is the power of the panel to act in bold defiance of both law and fact, voting to set a defendant free, even if that person did run afoul of a particular criminal statute. In the OJ case, the sympathetic jury essentially poked a prominent finger in the eye of the system, giving their own peculiar twist to the term "blind justice." More recently, nullification of a different sort has been put on trial in the court of public opinion and pursued in the chambers of state legislatures across the country. This type of nullification is not an act of defiance, rather one of obedience — obedience to the Constitution of the United States and to the conscience of its determined protectors.


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