In United States v. Dougherty 1972 the decision read, in part, “The fact that there is widespread existence of the jury’s prerogative, and approval of its existence as a “necessary counter to casehardened judges and arbitrary prosecutors,’ does not establish as an imperative that the jury must be informed by the judge of that power.” So, while the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the right of the jury to nullify the law in any case, it also allows the court to hide that fact from the jury. Jury nullification goes back to at least the Magna Carta. What Alaska legislators are trying to accomplish is to allow juries to know their rights and powers. Cops can lie to anyone legally and judges can lie to jurors at least sometimes. Courts will still hide information from the jury, but this is a step in the right direction. – R.
HJL Adds: The only thing more scary than a manipulative judge is an ignorant jury. While I’m not sure that the proper way to deal with this is to include the instructions via the court, every potential jurist should know that the power of nullification exists. Jury nullification is a powerful tool in the hands of the common man even if that man is the “Obama phone woman”. I can see a time where nullification of the law may be the only choice in states like New York or Connecticut regarding the absurd firearms laws.