The Duty to Disregard the Law

Abstract

In the practice of jury nullification, a jury votes to acquit a defendant in disregard of the factual evidence, on the grounds that a conviction would result in injustice, either because the law itself is unjust or because its application in the particular case would be unjust. The practice is widely condemned by courts, which strenuously attempt to prevent it. Nevertheless, the arguments against jury nullification are surprisingly weak. I argue that, pursuant to the general ethical duty to avoid causing unjust harms to others, jurors are often morally obligated to disregard the law. (~7400 words)

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2014-03-19

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Michael Huemer
University of Colorado, Boulder

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