State v. Ragland
Supreme Court of NJ - 1986
- At the end of D's trial for armed robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, the judge instructed the jury that if the jury found D was in possession of a weapon during the commission of the robbery, the jury must find him guilty of the possession charge.
- D was convicted. D argued that the jury instruction conflicted with the jury's power of nullification.
- Trial court found D guilty.
- NJ Supreme Court affirmed, D guilty. (however, reversed and remanded on other grounds)
- Is the power of the jury to acquit, despite overwhelming proof of guilt and the jury's belief, beyond a reasonable doubt, in guilt, one of the essential attributes of the right to trial by jury?
- The power of the jury to acquit, despite overwhelming proof of guilt and the jury's belief, beyond a reasonable doubt, in guilt, is not one of the essential attributes of the right to trial by jury.
- The power of the jury to acquit despite proof of guilt is known as the jury's power of nullification.
- The exercise of such power is undesirable and runs counter to gov't policy and sound administration of criminal justice.
- Instruction about nullification is not required by constitution, statute, or common law.
- Jury nullification is inconsistent with the most important value of western democracy, that we should live under a gov't of laws and not of men.