Has anyone ever heard of the term jury nullification?
It’s a legal concept in which a jury disregards completely the evidence in the trial and reaches a verdict based upon their own consciences. Sounds a little vague? Let me explain by an example.
Probably everyone in America has seen the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie classic called “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
You remember the story of the movie voted the #1 most inspiring film of all time.
It stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey who lives in a small town called Bedford Falls.
He hates the small town and wants to get out of there in the worst way.
But every time he is about to leave someone in the town needs his help and that forces him to stay in Bedford Falls.
For example, right after he gets married to co-star Donna Reed, he is leaving the town in a taxi, and there is a run on the bank.
The people in the town are in a panic. The people are about to pull their money out of the Savings and Loan company he started and go to the bank of the villain of the movie, Old Man Potter.
If George Bailey leaves the town, all the people who have $$ in the savings and loan company will go bankrupt.
So what does George Bailey do?
He gets out of the cab and runs back to the savings and loan building to save the people from financial ruin.
He uses his honeymoon money of $2000 to loan to the people and save them from bankruptcy.
Then, as you know George Bailey, through his Saving and Loan relative, somehow misplaces $8,000 cash.
The authorities are notified.
The District Attorney’s office puts out a warrant for George’s arrest for stealing the $8,000.
Well, you know what happens from there. Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, car accident and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully will not tell you the ending in case you didn’t see the movie.
Suppose, though, George Bailey had been tried for the theft. The case would be heard by jurors from Bedford Falls.
Suppose George took the stand and said he he didn’t know what happened to the $8,000.
The prosecutor would be very confident at this point.
George admitted the $8,000 was gone. George admitted he was responsible for the $8,000. George admitted he had no explanation for what happened to the $$$$$.
So the jury goes out to deliberate.
58 seconds later the jury comes back.
NOT GUILTY on all counts.
Even though the evidence was overwhelming against George, no jury in Bedford Falls would convict George of a crime.
Get it? That is jury nullification.
Thanks for reading.
Bernie the attorney