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Jury Nullification in DC

The recent posting of a “jury nullification” poster in the Judiciary Square metro resulted in an interesting Washington Post story and brought attention to the issue of jury service, a critical civic responsibility that merits more attention. In 2012, there were about 40,000 people summoned for jury service and almost 500 trials held and in both the DC Superior Court and the US District Court for DC.

Prompted by CCE’s DC Jury Project, jurors in DC have tools at their disposal to help them render verdicts in cases, including a well-established practice of judges permitting jurors to take notes and ask questions.

Jury nullification advocates often urge such action in response to specific types of laws, such as vandalism, gun possession, or low-level drug crimes like marijuana possession. The DC Council appears to be taking steps to explore which types of crime may no longer merit criminal penalties, suggested by the recent DC Council hearings on marijuana decriminalization.

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