Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

TimS comments on Politics is the Mind-Killer - Less Wrong

72 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 February 2007 09:23PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (228)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: TimS 26 January 2012 03:24:47PM 2 points [-]

There is no good reason for any to engage any discussion point-by-point. There are core points and peripheral points. And there's no reason to think they are equally worth thinking about.

Regarding jury nullification, I've worked in places where it occurred frequently. For what seemed to the population like good and sufficient reasons, the citizenry intensely distrusted the local police force. The net effect that I observed was that it was practically impossible to get a jury conviction for "petty" offenses like domestic violence and driving under the influence (DUI). You may think this is an improvement (or at least an incentive for the police to make improvements), but I'm not convinced.


With full awareness of the dangers of generalizing from one example, here is one of the worst cases:

At trial, defendant's wife testified that he was very drunk at the house (and she was only other person there), the family car was at the house, then the defendant and the car were not at the house. A short time later, a police officer found the car at some location a short driving distance from the home. The engine was warm and the defendant was laying near the vehicle. While performing field sobriety exercises (walk & turn, one-leg-stand, etc), the defendant fell down multiple times. The field sobriety exercises were recorded by the patrol vehicle's dash camera.

You'd think this would be enough to show that the defendant was too drunk to drive, and did drive the vehicle. Not guilty verdict. One of the jurors told the prosecutor (not me) that it wasn't clear that the defendant was too drunk to drive.

Comment author: Prismattic 27 January 2012 03:53:12AM *  2 points [-]

It's probably worth noting, when someone brings up jury nullifcation, that historically, at least in the US, the largest source of jury nullification cases was all-white juries refusing to convict actually-guilty white defendants of crimes against black victims.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 January 2012 04:15:31AM 0 points [-]

It's probably worth noting, when someone brings up jury nullifcation, that historically, at least in the US, the largest source of jury nullification cases was all-white juries refusing to convict actually-guilty white defendants of crimes against black victims.

Who gets to choose that such a jury is null? It seems rather exploitable!

Comment author: Prismattic 27 January 2012 04:39:23AM 3 points [-]

Who gets to choose that such a jury is null?

I can't parse this.

It sounds like you may be misunderstanding the term "jury nullification". It does not mean overturning the decision of a jury. It means the members of a jury choosing not to follow the guidelines of the law in reaching a decision.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 January 2012 09:04:44PM 1 point [-]

Do you have a citation for this? I've seen the claim before but I have't seen any data backing this up.

Comment author: TimS 27 January 2012 09:20:54PM 2 points [-]

I don't know whether "largest" is justified, but it seems hard to doubt that racial nullification is a significant part of the history of jury nullification in the US. Wikipedia links sources that suggest that Prohibition and the Fugitive Slave Laws also were major sources of nullification.

Comment author: gwern 27 January 2012 11:39:40PM 1 point [-]

And let us not forget the very honorable origin of jury nullification, which established American freedom of the press: the Zenger trial.