Ethics of Jury nullification and TDT?

by Psy-Kosh1 min read26th Oct 201032 comments

12

Personal Blog

I've been sort of banging my head on this issue (I have jury duty next week (first time)).

 

The obvious possibility is what if I get put on a drug use case? The obvious injustices of the anti-drug laws are well known, and I know of the concept of nullification, but I'm bouncing back and forth as to its validity.

 

Some of my thoughts on this:

 

Thought 1: Just decide if they did it or didn't do it.

Thought 2: But can I ethically bring myself to declare guilty (and thus result in potential serious punishment) someone that really didn't actually do anything wrong? ie, to support a seriously unjust law?

Thought 3: (and here's where TDT style issues come in) On the other hand, the algorithm "if jury member, don't convict if I don't like a particular law" seems to be in general a potentially really really bad algorithm. (ie, one obvious failure mode for that algorithm would be homophobic juries that refuse to convict on hate crimes against gays)

Thought 4: Generally, those sorts of people tend to not be serious rationalists. Reasoning as if I can expect correlations among our decision algorithms seems questionable.

Thought 5: Really? Really? If I wanted to start making excuses like that, I could probably whenever I feel like construct a reference class for which I am the sole member. Thought 4 style reasoning seems itself to potentially be shaky.

 

So, basically I'm smart enough to have the above sequence of thoughts, but not smart enough to actually resolve it. What is a rationalist to do? (In other words, any help with untangling my thoughts on this so that I can figure out if I should go by the rule of "nullify if appropriate" or "nullification is bad, period, even if the law in question is hateful" would be greatly appreciated.)

Personal Blog

12