22 J. Psychiatry & L. 165 (1994)
Jury Nullification

handle is hein.journals/jpsych22 and id is 173 raw text is: The Journal of Psychiatry & Law/Spring 1994

COMMENTARY
Jury nullification
BY PROFESSOR RALPH SLOVENKO
As we know, juries sometimes return verdicts contrary to law.
After all, they do not have to give a reason for their decision.
Returning a verdict contrary to law is known as jury nullifi-
cation. It occurs when the jury believes the defendant's con-
duct should not constitute a crime (although it does), or that
the defendant was morally (but not legally) justified in violat-
ing the law; or the jury may simply feel compassion for the
defendant.
In the days preceding a trial in Michigan on assisted suicide,
Jack Kevorkian's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, said in statements
to the media that he would urge the jury to disregard the law.
Kevorkian was charged with violating the state's ban on
assisted suicide, a ban he claims is improper and immoral.
Foreseeing this argument, the prosecutor, by pretrial motion,
prevailed upon the trial judge to enter an order barring any
mention of nullification during the trial. However, pretrial
statements on nullification were reported extensively in the
media.'
The question of jury nullification has come up in a number of
much-publicized trials. Perhaps the most famous example
arose during the colonial era, when John Peter Zenger, a New

 1994 by Federal Legal Publications, Inc.

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