Justice vs. the Law: Billy Budd to be hanged at dawn; Justice or the Law

Posted: Jun 12, 2011

"We do not deal with justice here, but with the law." "Was not the one conceived to serve the other?" Are we always free to choose, or sometimes do we have to follow the law? Without the law what do we have? Should we pick and choose when to follow the law based on how we "feel" at the time? But of course our legal system gives us leeway in considering the circumstances of the case. And then there is the jury that has the final say. Some think that a jury can only come to the decision of guilty or not guilty, but there is a third option called jury nullification. Jury nullification is when a jury finds someone not guilty even though they are, at least by the letter of the law, as guilty as can be. If a jury finds the law to be unjust in the case at hand, then they have the right, and in my opinion the obligation, to see that justice is done. No judge will ever inform a jury of this "right" of theirs, but it is a right nonetheless. There is another path available to a person of a jury to make sure that the "innocent" get another chance, but in my opinion it should rarely if ever be used. And that is to create a hung jury; a jury that does not have all 12 members in agreement. I think that it's the duty of all members of a jury to come to a consensus, guilty or not guilty, but in the extreme case that you personally cannot find a person guilty, then it is your right to vote against the consensus of the jury. But before a person does that, they should make every attempt possible to either convince the other members to come around to their way of thinking, or they should try to understand why the other jurors think the other way. What makes you think that you out of 12 people know what the truth is? Would you be that arrogant and sure of yourself to hold up the entire justice system? And even if you did create a hung jury, it would not be the end. There would be another trial, and another jury. Justice would be served eventually. If you are ever on a jury dealing with the life or death of another human being, then just keep in mind. Remember that some day it could be you awaiting the decision of a jury, the decision of whether you live or die, so do not take it lightly. jbranstetter04