Document Type


Publication Date

February 1999


Jury nullification, an issue that has received much public attention, has been used loosely to describe verdicts with which members of the press and public disagree. One aim of this article is to explain what nullification is and to identify and describe three different situations in which nullification is likely to arise. Another aim is to offer two conceptions of the jury before assessing whether nullification is helpful or harmful to the judicial system. One conception, "a conventional view," largely held by judges, regards the jury as a fact-finding body and little more. My own conception, which I have labeled "a process view," envisions a much broader role for the jury, including interpretive and political functions. Under this broader view of the jury, nullification is not always harmful, as it is under the conventional view, but is even beneficial.