Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2190703
 


 



Nullification as Law


Jenny E. Carroll


University of Alabama - School of Law

December 17, 2012

Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 102, 2014
Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2190703

Abstract:     
The rule of law is central to our notion of governance and our legal system. The ideal of a knowable, regular, public law shimmers in the discourse of our democracy. It stands in sharp contrast to the arbitrary and often anarchic law of men, in which those with absolute power rule absolutely. But the devil is always in the details. To move past the idealism is to enter a contested realm where competing theories seek to claim the mantle of the rule of law. While this article cannot claim to resolve the dispute over the precise meaning or construct of the rule of law, it does seek to consider the questions that jury nullification raises in the context of our republican democracy. In so doing, a more nuanced conception of the rule of law emerges – one grounded in the daily realities of the lives the law would govern, and that would include, if not at times encourage, the possibility of nullification.

Jury nullification questions the formal paradigm surrounding law and seeks to inject the law with communal values. The audacity of a juror defining law speaks of some small space where law is constructed and given meaning outside the halls of formal government. It imagines a law that is more than the written word of statutes, executive orders, or judicial opinions, but is an interplay between the written word and the citizen’s interpretation of that word. In its very nature, nullification points to the citizen juror as a source of the law itself. It pushes against static constructs of law and seeks to inject ideals of justice and equity into the larger body of law. Equally importantly, it recognizes the democratic function of the criminal jury and asserts that nullification promotes that function.

In placing nullification within the context of the rule of law, this article considers how the citizen’s relationship with the government has developed in light of changing notions about the criminal jury’s role in the interpretation of law. It concludes that nullification is not inconsistent with notions of the rule of law, and instead ensures an active role for the citizen in the construction and deconstruction of the law itself.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 68

Keywords: Jury Nullification, Rule of Law, Concept of Law

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: December 17, 2012 ; Last revised: October 8, 2013

Suggested Citation

Carroll, Jenny E., Nullification as Law (December 17, 2012). Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 102, 2014; Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2190703. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2190703

Contact Information

Jenny Elizabeth Carroll (Contact Author)
University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 390
Downloads: 82
Download Rank: 176,990
People who downloaded this paper also downloaded:
1. Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals
By Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo2 in 0.407 seconds