Ethics of Jury nullification and TDT?

by Psy-Kosh1 min read26th Oct 201032 comments


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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.)

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