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Sep-18-2017 13:45printcomments

What is Jury Nullification?

Before legalization of recreational cannabis, west coast defense attorneys saw a lot of jury nullification.

jury nullification

(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) - Jury nullification is a concept where a jury on criminal case can hear the entire case, and then find the defendant not guilty because they do not agree with the law or punishment.

If you have ever been to jury duty you will hear often the court saying that as a juror it is your job to “follow the law”, however, the case law in this area says that jury nullification is actually following the law.

It is perfectly legal to have this approach and the law says that this is not grounds to overturn a case.

For example if a jury came back with a not guilty verdict and later came out in public and said “I thought they were guilty but I don’t believe in that law”, the courts have said that this would not be grounds to reverse the conviction or for a new trial.

In the years before recreational Marijuana legalization, defense attorneys saw a lot of jury nullification. Before legalization, along the west coast, including Washington, Oregon and California, defense attorneys would often share stories where a jury would be forced to decide on someone’s fate for a conviction based on simple possession of Marijuana.

Why does Jury Nullification happen?

Some jurors just don’t think that someone should go to jail or prison committing a certain crime. No matter what the prosecutor tells them about the case, or the law, they will find the defendant not guilty.

Some attorneys have even experienced situations where the person literally admitted to committing the crime on the stand, and the jurors still found their client not guilty.

It is a crazy thing to think about, but when you bring in the general public to decide on someone’s life, you have to know that these people are going to bring in their own personal beliefs and opinions when starting their deliberations.

Can an Attorney bring up Jury Nullification?

Although jury nullification is allowed and is part of the court process, it is not something that can be brought up during the trial. That would be considered grounds for a reversal.

So for example, a defense attorney, in their closing argument, can’t just tell the jurors, “Hey if you don’t believe in this, then don’t follow the law”. That cannot be said and the courts are very clear about that.

However, attorneys who are very experienced often find ways in their closing argument to explain that the law may not be a good law, and that maybe the crime their client was charged with was not so bad.


The basis of this article was provided to us by Alex Ozols, who owns Ozols Law Firm, a criminal defense attorney from San Diego California. For more information about his law firm, please visit


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krissie September 20, 2017 8:13 pm (Pacific time)

Jury nullification values morality above obedience, a good principle to live by.

Kevin Wheeler September 19, 2017 8:51 pm (Pacific time)

I believe "Jury Nullification" should be allowed as an "Affirmative Defense" PERIOD !!! Politicians makes laws with unintended consequences and people have to pay the price for their "Short Sightedness".

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