Tending to confirm the predictions of those who hoped or feared, as the case may be, that the legal system would not actually be willing to encourage juries to take into consideration the justice of the outcome as well as the facts of the case in deciding whether to acquit. [Tuccille, our post two years ago when the law passed]
It’s a fairly mild enactment as these things go, but any hint that juries are free to acquit a defendant to avoid injustice is deeply controversial in establishment legal circles [Tim Lynch/Cato Institute, Radley Balko, Reason]
“The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage.” (Michael McCarthy, Independent (U.K.), Sept. 11).
Expect some controversy over hints that the Alaska Governor may have expressed sympathy with the argued right of criminal juries to decide on matters of law as well as fact, perhaps in the process acquitting some violators of unjust laws. Despite its extensive pedigree in Anglo-American legal history, that position has become highly unpopular with most authorities in bench and bar, even as it remains popular with many Americans at the grass roots. (Eugene Volokh, Sept. 3). Some blog background on the subject: Randy Barnett, Dan Markel, Anne Reed, Eric Muller, Tim Lynch.