Last week the New Hampshire House approved a plan to require judges to give jury nullification instructions to jurors in that state. Now an Alabama lawmaker wants judges to post the information in courts and swear an oath to jury nullification.
Alabama HB 408 as filed yesterday provides for nearly 5 pages of rationale for the instructions/postings and warns that “While it is one thing for a Legislature to enact a statute, it is often another thing entirely to insure that the statute is properly administered free of judicial rewriting.” and “What judges today are careful to conceal from jury members is that judges are the chief competition to the jury.”
HB 408 provides that the following instructions are to be read in their entirety to every juror and posted in every courthouse
“The laws of this state are established by the vote of the duly elected representatives of your Legislature and are to be presumed as being representative of the will and purpose of the people of this state. As the will and purpose of the people change, our system of government assumes that the representatives of the people will adjust the laws governing the people accordingly. Sometimes, however, laws are passed that do not represent the will of the people, or laws are interpreted in ways that exceed the original scope and intention of the law when it was created. If you as the jury find the evidence shows the defendant violated the law, but you disagree with the law you are being asked to consider as part of your deliberations, and believe such a law should not be enforced, then you have the legal authority to return a verdict of not guilty on the ground of Jury Nullification.
“Jury nullification is nothing less than a rejection of a law of this state that has been passed by the state Legislature and signed by the Governor, and for this reason it should never be undertaken lightly. Nevertheless, jury nullification also provides an opportunity for you, as citizens of this state, to inform your government that the laws the defendant is charged with violating exceeds what you consider appropriate and acceptable in our society and should be either repealed or revised.
“If you choose to find the defendant not guilty by reason of jury nullification, then you should check the box marked jury nullification on the verdict form.”
Judges who failed to read/post this would be impeached, arrested and, if convicted, sentenced to a mandatory 3 days in jail.
Moreover, every judge in the state would be required to read a statement and swear an oath to uphold jury nullification.
Finally, “no Alabama State Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Court Judge, or Circuit Court Judge may interpret this statute.”
HB 408 has been filed but not yet assigned to a committee