I think that argument is ridiculous as an argument against what Professor Butler is saying because that is already what is happening. Professor Butler is simply making a case for balancing the scales a little.
This argument is logically correct but has no real-world effect because white people are already (and will probably) continue to not convict crimes of "white supremeacy". We live in a post-colonialism "white -supremacist" world and there is no reason minorities should be just/fair/treat everyone equally when white people and have not been doing that for CENTURIES
I am not persuaded. The consequences of locking someone up are so severe that I think the harm of acquitting someone who may have been technically "guilty" is far less than the harm of locking someone up for a crime that perpetuates injustice
If white people want to acquit racists, they will. It may be jury nullification. It might also be racial bias. Black people should also be allowed to use the same tool to protect their community members. They should be encouraged to do it, quite frankly.
it's a specious argument at best, white juries are already engaged in jury nullification whether or not Black jurors are encouraged to do so, not to mention the entire system is set up to uphold the oppression of Black folk. the charging, conviction rates of white police officers and vigilantes speak for themselves.
This argument is persuasive but I do not think it arrives at the crux of the problem. If we had diverse enough juries then we would be able to eliminate the fear that white defendants would be acquitted of heinous, violent or racist crimes just because an all white jury was present. I do not think that a tool that can be used by the jury to eliminate injustice, selective overprotection of certain communities, or that can prevent unequal treatment of certain individuals for minor crimes should be removed simply for this reason. I do agree that this is a tool that should only be used in cases of non-violent crimes as Butler suggests.
Just like many areas of law, jury nullification can cut in ways that I like and don't like. I don't think that's reason to *wish* that the practice didn't exist (I use the term "wish" because it would be impossible to stop jury nullification from happening)
I'm not persuaded that white communities will increase (since it is already being done) their use of jury nullification just because black communities begin to do so. In general, jurors come in with conscious and/or unconscious bias and use that when making their decisions; jury nullification is not very different from this.
Intellectually, I think the argument is ridiculous because of the clear power imbalance and historical difference. Thinking practically, I think the argument is exactly what people are likely to think -- we see similar versions of the "why should we be left out" argument around practices like affirmative action
I'm a bit torn. It makes sense to me to acquit any defendant accused of nonviolent crimes, but I do see the concern that Butler's argument will lead to more white juries endorsing oppression. But at this point, the criminal punishment system is so broken that I'm willing to try despite this risk. We have to do something. .
If the argument is that black jury nullification is the moral equivalent of white jury nullification, it is spurious. But if the argument is that black jury nullification will have the practical effect of increasing white jury nullification, then it has some purchase. Jury nullification will do more to undermine legal and social norms well before it will to give minority communities all of the justice they want. And as Professor Kennedy said, all Americans have an interest in a functional legal order.
If the system is broken then the solution should be to fix it, not to subvert it. If we all decide that we are going to place power over principle then it just becomes a game where the strongest win. I recognize that some will say that this is what we already have but I don't see an alternative to trying to fix it.
There are certainly some just cases for jury nullifcation, but I worry taking it too far. Yeah if there's an unjust law or a tough situation, but try to dissolve all or a huge chunk of laws especially just based on race seems very arbitrary and a form of racism.
I take issue with this strange belief that there is a race war just waiting to break out. That if "black juries" do something, "white juries" will retaliate to make sure their side is even. A minority of radicals are making jury decisions based on their being white. A strategy of action cannot be focused on what a minority might do, but on what we should do as a people.
There is some credibility to that argument, but I still largely agree with Butler. Jury nullification may very well beget more jury nullification. Having a diverse jury required to come to a unanimous verdict seems to militate against this. Maybe there will be people who are inclined to nullify along racial or other identity group lines. Nothing is to say these people so inclined cannot be convinced. If the other jurors are advocating for the moral rightness of convicting the defendant, they can make their case to the would-be nullifiers. The big worry for me is the bright line quality of what Butler is advocating for will almost certainly result in prosecutors doing everything they can to keep black jurors off of the jury for trials against black defendants.
I think that the position advocated by the professor is both unprincipled and dangerous. The premise of his argument, that a jury should nullify on the basis of race, can equally serve as the premise for other communities who feel marginalised on other grounds, eg, class, education, etc. I agree with Prof Randall who says that this would lead to anarchy and a subversion of the justice system. There are other ways to effect change in the law, and it is not by taking the law into one's own hands when one is entrusted precisely to apply those laws.
I think it's right to distinguish between whether 'jury nullication' writ large and in the abstract is good, and whether black communities should use it. The answer to the first I am not sure about, but the naswer to the second seems like an obvious yes in face of the awful realities of the criminal legal system
If jury nullification becomes a more open, publicized, and widespread phenomenon, I don't think it will necessarily mean that largely white juries will acquit white defendants more often. But I think it will mean that jury results will be far less predictable. Jury nullifcation and its focus on the "community" invites an assessment of who is a member of "the community". Is someone part of the community if they are black? Black and gay? Mixed? Black, but a recent African immigrant? The jury will have to make such a decision. Is the individual in front of them a member of their community?
The story of Solomon is one that I heard a lot growing up (in Church and at Catholic School). I always thought the wisdom was that he picked the right woman and the people thought he did as well. Now, with my legal sensibilities, I'm forced to think a little more.
Today really made me think about the value of jury deliberations what we gain and lose by having a group deliberate. This is a part of our justice system that has really been a staple of American life so it
1) I was struck and challenged by the basic question of when to open the jury box. I really am not sure how I come down, but I'm leaning towards opening the jury more (e.g. in the case in which they're intoxicated). 2) My biggest concern is about how little faith we place in the legislature in all of this - it seems like a lot of the premise is that we don't trust that laws are just
If the jury is the theoretical source of legitimacy for our court proceedings, does that mean that (modern) juries that have little invested in cases, make snap decisions, and do not take the process seriously, erode the fundamental legitimacy of the courts? Are process rules enough to save our legal system? Are juries even the right source of legitimacy, or would a lifetime, independent judiciarcy better serve our interests?
I very much enjoyed the 60 minutes clip - it was inspiring to see someone fight for what he believed in wholeheartedly even in the face of strong opposition on the part of the interviewer. I am concerned and intrigued by how and when to open the black box
1) After today, I'm struck by the importance of predictability in framing a case correctly in order to win. I'm also struck by the challenge in balancing a fair system with what is right for the individual
The topic that I find most interesting is when/where/why we decide to probe -- or leave alone -- the jury's decisions and decision-making process. That, also, is probably what bothers me the most. There appear to be times when it's appropriate to intervene, but it does open "Pandora's Box" to make us question the whole system. Perhaps, we either accept that safeguards have to occur earlier (e.g., voir dires) or later (e.g., juror affidavits), but we can't continuously question every step of the way if we want a process that is workable.
1. It was interesting to me that many of the suggestions made in the class to improve the jury system seem to bring the juror closer to a judge. If that is preferable, wouldn't it just be better to have a judge or panel of judges instead of a jury? 2. It concerns me that the jury process seems so arbitrary.
Inspired me: wanting to learn more about Paul Butler's and Randall Kennedy's divide on the use of race-based jury nullification; Biggest concern: I would like a clearer discussion of the jury as a black box. I'd like to take a beat and flush that out more
The way we ended class today peaked my interest. Right now, I'm not convinced one way or the other whether an inquisitorial system or a jury system is better. The biggest concern I have is that jury decisions can be so unaccountable.
I was struck by the thought that the "best interest of the child" standard comes from the wisdom of Solomon. As someone who grew up in the church, I never thought of it so explicitly in those terms (thinking of how the standard is used today). It is a standard I am often torn about because I want children to be safe and happy, but the courts do not have a great track record of not taking children when they should be with their families and perhaps their families simply given services. As for what bothers me, the unfairness overall. Neither jury trials nor bench trials seem like they can be fair to certain groups, especially people of color and poor folks.
1) I am intrigued by our willingness to question the very worth of juries as an institution, and by the question of whether another model (e.g. inquisitorial) may be more rational/just. 2) I believe it is valuable to highlight the inherent design flaws in various institutions (jury, judge, etc.) but I worry about this leading to the conclusion that we should throw out the baby with the bathwater.
I think the illustrations given earlier in the class today of a multitude of ways in which a jury can undermine the criminal justice system (essentially, by not taking their duty as a juror seriously) is what bothers me most. They perform an integral role in the justice system, yet there are few safeguards to ensure that they discharge their roles meaningfully.
I enjoyed today’s class. I never really considered nullification as a tool for racial justice. It seems problematic, but I’ll consider it more. One thing that concerns me is the iron clad nature of the jury black box. Though there should be many protections for the jury, having jurors who are inebriated during deliberations presents a clear problem for justice.
A man is driving down the road and breaks down near a monastery. He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, My car broke down. Do you think I could stay the night? The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, even fix his car. As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a very strange sound. The next morning, he asks the monks what the sound was, but they say, We can't tell you. You're not a monk.
The man is disappointed but thanks them anyway and goes about his merry way. Some years later, The same man breaks down in front of the same monastery. The monks again accept him, feed him, and again fix his car. That night, he hears the same strange noise that he had heard years earlier. The next morning, he asks what it is, but the monks reply, We can't tell you. You're not a monk.
The man says, All right, all right. I'm dying to know.
If the only way I can find out what that sound was is to become a monk, how do I become a monk?
The monks reply, You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of sand pebbles, when you find these numbers, you will become a monk. The man sets about his task. Some 54 years later, he returns and knocks on the door of the monastery.
He says, I have traveled the earth and have found what you have asked for. There are 145,236,284,232 blades of grass and 231,281,219,999,129,382 sand pebbles on the earth.
The monks reply, Congratulations. You are now a monk. We shall now show you the way to the sound.
The monks lead the man to a wooden door where the head monk says, The sound is right behind that door. The man reaches for the knob, but the door is locked.
He says, Real funny. May I have the key? The monks give him the key, and he opens the door. Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone.
The man demands the key to the stone door. The monks give him the key, and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. He demands another key from the monks, who provide it.
Behind that door is another door, this one made of sapphire, And so it went until the man had gone through doors of emerald, silver, topaz, and amethyst.
Finally, the monks say, This is the last key to the last door.
The man is relieved to know that he has finally reached to the end .
He unlocks the door, turns the knob, and behind that door he is amazed to find the source of that strange sound.
But he can't tell you what it is because you're not a monk.
I am intrigued by the idea of an expert judge presiding over an entire case. Solomon did seem very wise. The women who stole the child had a motivation to have it cut in half, as doing so would end the inquiry into her crime. The other mother did not. My intrigue is balanced by the risk of tyranny endemic in a repeat establishment player making such decisions. Based on the well-reasoned comments of my classmates, I worry that the jury trial is in jeopardy. Judges will apply the law to defendants whether or not the law is just. I do not have enough faith in democratic processes of lawmaking to believe unjust laws will be taken off the books or not made in the first place. Jurors are the last line of defense and are effective in part because they are not repeat players. They consider the case at hand rather than the policies implicated in creating bad precedent.
Biggest concern: people dont seem to see jury nullification (and other legal means of protest) as legal! It's frustrating that any legitimate arguments against oppression are criminalized when minorities use them to point out systematic issues with our "justice" system. I was most inspired how we could use cases and stories together; it makes you think more about the people involved, and the narratives implicated, than just the legal principles behind itthan
Questions of what qualifications and requirements we should place upon juries most excited me. It's a very human process: deeply flawed, subject to arbitrary inflections of personality, narratives of self, stories of society. But I think its black-box nature — and its ultimate sovereignty — are worth preserving. The Jury represents the community and its judgment of the situation, and I don't think that its sovereignty should be eroded. I'm most concerned by how jury nullification, despite its appeal, might operate when applied to actual, complex individuals. It's easy to say that the criminal legal process treats folks differently based on the color of their skin and always has. But jury nullification does invite the jury to project all of its inherent biases onto the defendant, which may be deleterious to the pursuit of justice.