New Hampshire: House Judiciary Committee approves 10-8 specific jury-nullification language judges must use in criminal cases

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee yesterday forwarded with a “Ought to Pass” recommendation HB 133, which would require judges give specific jury nullification instructions in criminal cases. The bill is just the latest in a 20-year effort by the state’s legislature to force judges to give jury nullification instructions and do to so with specific verbiage. A similar bill without specifying what words were to be used was enacted in 2012 only to have the state’s supreme court rule that the law did not require a specific jury nullification instruction.

HB 133 would provide that “in all criminal proceedings the court shall inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.” Moreover, the court would be required to utter the following words, exactly

If you have a reasonable doubt as to whether the state has proved any one or more of the elements of the crime charged, you must find the defendant not guilty.  However if you find that the state has proved all the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.  Even if you find that the state has proved all of the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, and you may find the defendant not guilty.

HB 133 now goes to the full House, which approved the same language in 2016 on a 184-145 vote.