UNITED STATES v. DOUGHERTY (1972)

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

473 F.2d 1113 (1972)


JUDGES: Bazelon, Chief Judge, Leventhal, Circuit Judge, and Adams, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Bazelon, Chief Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

LEVENTHAL, Circuit Judge:

Seven of the so-called "D.C. Nine" bring this joint appeal from convictions arising out of their unconsented entry into the Washington offices of the Dow Chemical Company, and their destruction of certain property therein. Appellants, along with two other defendants who subsequently entered pleas of nolo contendere, were tried before District Judge John H. Pratt and a jury on a three count indictment alleging, as to each defendant, one count of second degree burglary, and two counts of malicious destruction of property valued in excess of $100. On February 11, 1970, after a six-day trial, the seven were each convicted of two counts of malicious destruction. The jury acquitted on the burglary charges but convicted on the lesser-included offense of unlawful entry. . . .

Appellants urge three grounds for reversal as follows: (1) The trial judge erred in denying defendants' timely motions to dispense with counsel and represent themselves. (2) The judge erroneously refused to instruct the jury of its right to acquit appellants without regard to the law and the evidence, and refused to permit appellants to argue that issue to the jury. (3) The instructions actually given by the court coerced the jury into delivering a verdict of guilty. On the basis of defendants' first contention we reverse and remand for new trial. To provide an appropriate mandate governing the new trial, we consider the second and third contentions, and conclude that these cannot be accepted.

I. The Record in District Court

The undisputed evidence showed that on Saturday, March 22, 1969, appellants broke into the locked fourth floor Dow offices at 1030 - 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., threw papers and documents about the office and into the street below, vandalized office furniture and equipment, and defaced the premises by spilling about a blood-like substance. The prosecution proved its case through Dow employees who testified as to the lack of permission and extent of damage, members of the news media who had been summoned to the scene by the appellants and who witnessed the destruction while recording it photographically, and police officers who arrested appellants on the scene.....

On Friday, February 6, after an opening statement by Mr. Bowman, appellants O'Rourke and Malone made opening statements on their own behalf, as the other defendants had done prior to the Government's case. They directed their remarks, as had the others, to an attack on the role of Dow Chemical Company and other unspecified corporations in supporting American military efforts in the Vietnam War. When Sister Malone referred to Vietnam, Judge Pratt interjected: "the war in Vietnam is not an issue in this case." A disruption ensued. Events happened too quickly for the court reporter to provide a complete record. The court later inserted this description of what happened, Supplement to Transcript, p. 595: 

The record being unclear as to what transpired in the courtroom shortly before the Court adjourned Friday, February 6, 1970, the following is a recital of those events.

Defendant JoAnn Malone, while making her opening statement, referred to the Vietnam War. The Court ruled that "the War in Vietnam is not an issue in this case." Defendant Arthur Melville rose to object and was ordered by the Court to be seated. Defendant Michael Slaski also objected and when he failed to obey the Court's order to be seated, the Marshals were ordered to seat him. While this was taking place, two spectators in the rear of the courtroom then stood and shouted to the bench concerning the relevancy of the War in the case on trial. Marshals moved to eject these two persons. The first was removed without incident. While the second was being ejected with some difficulty, a woman member of the DC-Nine Defense Committee seated in the front row in back of the defendants rose and ran to the back of the courtroom to impede the Marshals and assist the two spectators being removed. When the Marshals resisted her, she screamed at them. Defendant Michael Slaski then wrestled free from the Marshals who were attempting to seat him, hurdled the rail and engaged in an altercation with the Marshals at the rear of the courtroom. During these events the jury was ushered from the courtroom. The Court ordered the courtroom cleared and took a recess. It is reported that the fighting involving defendant Slaski ceased after two or three minutes and the Marshals began clearing the courtroom amid shouts of "pigs" and obscenities. Loud shouting occurred during the entire incident. A number of spectators refused to leave the courtroom and had to be ejected forcibly. The Court returned after the courtroom had been cleared and the press, counsel and the defendants had been readmitted. The jury was recalled, admonished to disregard what it had seen, and sent home. The Court then adjourned until Monday, February 9, 1970.

When the trial resumed on Monday, February 9, defendant Slaski was cited for contempt for his role in the disturbances and the judge sternly admonished the spectators and remaining defendants against further outbreaks. Appellants Slaski and Moloney did not make opening statements. After appellant Malone finished her statement, the case for the defense began. It consisted entirely of defendants' testimony. Appellants Arthur Melville, O'Rourke, Malone and Begin testified. During the testimony there were several further disruptions requiring a brief recess at one point and ejection of a spectator from the courtroom at another. The judge confined closing argument to counsel. He instructed the jury on the three counts of each indictment as well as on the lesser-included offense of unlawful entry under the burglary count. He refused to instruct the jury that it could disregard the law as he gave it to them, and refused to instruct the jury that "moral compulsion" or "choice of the lesser evil" constituted a legal defense....
 

III. The Issue of Jury Nullification

Our reference to the "intensity" factor underlying the
pro se right should not be understood as embracing the principle of "nullification" proffered by appellants. They say that the jury has a well-recognized prerogative to disregard the instructions of the court even as to matters of law, and that they accordingly have the legal right that the jury be informed of its power. We turn to this matter in order to define the nature of the new trial permitted by our mandate.

There has evolved in the Anglo-American system an undoubted jury prerogative-in-fact, derived from its power to bring in a general verdict of not guilty in a criminal case, that is not reversible by the court. The power of the courts to punish jurors for corrupt or incorrect verdicts, which persisted after the medieval system of attaint by another jury became obsolete, was repudiated in 1670 when Bushell's Case discharged the jurors who had acquitted William Penn of unlawful assembly. Juries in civil cases became subject to the control of ordering a new trial; no comparable control evolved for acquittals in criminal cases.

The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard uncontradicted evidence and instructions of the judge. Most often commended are the 18th century acquittal of Peter Zenger of seditious libel, on the plea of Andrew Hamilton, and the 19th century acquittals in prosecutions under the fugitive slave law. The values involved drop a notch when the liberty vindicated by the verdict relates to the defendant's shooting of his wife's paramour, or purchase during Prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

Even the notable Dean Pound commented in 1910 on positive aspects of "such jury lawlessness."
(1) These observations of history and philosophy are underscored and illuminated, in terms of the current place of the jury in the American system of justice, by the empirical information and critical insights and analyses blended so felicitously in H. Kalven and H. Zeisel, The American Jury. (2)

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n1: "Jury lawlessness is the greatest corrective of law in its actual administration. The will of the state at large imposed on a reluctant community, the will of a majority imposed on a vigorous and determined minority, find the same obstacle in the local jury that formerly confronted kings and ministers." Pound comments that the law as written, and invoked by prosecutors, "demands conviction of persons whom local or even general opinion does not desire to punish," and adds that "the law is often too mechanical at a point requiring nicety of adjustment."

n2 The study of the American jury system, undertaken at the University of Chicago Law School, is a composite analysis of 3576 criminal jury trials, with particular focus on the 1063 instances where the judge reported that he disagreed with the jury verdict, and why. Half these cases present an apparent difference between judge and jury on "sentiments on the law."

The study supports in depth the conclusion that the jury is likely to call on its prerogative of lenity and equity, contrary to the judge's instruction, when the case is one where it can empathize with the defendant, feeling either that the jurors might well have been or come to be in the same position, or that in the large the defendant's conduct is not so contrary to general conduct standards as to be condemned as criminally deviate conduct. From a study teeming with illustrations, the following are cited as examples.

The authors broadly discern that "in cases having a de minimis cast or a note of contributory fault or provocation * * * the jury will exercise its de facto powers to write these equities into the criminal law" and "an impatience with the nicety of the law's boundaries hedging the privilege of self-defense". (E.g., acquittal for retaliation following assaults, or even harassment and provocation, without present danger; for violence erupting after domestic strife, or unfaithfulness of spouse; for fraud of a victim still the seller's friend; for statutory rape of a girl unchaste; for sale of liquor to a minor who is a member of the armed forces).

Perhaps most relevant is ch. 19 on Unpopular Laws. Though the authors discerned no law prompting a jury revolt comparable to the historic acquittals on charges of violation of seditious libel or fugitive slave laws, or even Prohibition, the data indicate that the historic role of the jury as a bulwark against official tyranny is "dimly evident in its contemporary role as a moderate corrective against undue prosecutions for gambling, game and liquor violations and, to some extent, drunken driving", the jury's traditional hostility to sumptuary legislation being "keyed to its perception that . . . widespread violation is tolerated" so that prosecution of a particular defendant is contrary to the principle of evenhanded justice. And so in some counties "people generally do not like the game law". In counties where jurors play the numbers they acquit broadly in gambling cases etc. When the jurors "feel the same thing could happen to them," they will acquit even of negligent manslaughter charges, as in running a red light, though there are more convictions in cases involving extreme speed.

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Reflective opinions upholding the necessity for the jury as a protection against arbitrary action, such as prosecutorial abuse of power, stress fundamental features like the jury "common sense judgment" and assurance of "community participation in the determination of guilt or innocence."  Human frailty being what it is, a prosecutor disposed by unworthy motives could likely establish some basis in fact for bringing charges against anyone he wants to book, but the jury system operates in fact, so that the jury will not convict when they empathize with the defendant, as when the offense is one they see themselves as likely to commit, or consider generally acceptable or condonable under the mores of the community.

The existence of an unreviewable and unreversible power in the jury, to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge, has for many years co-existed with legal practice and precedent upholding instructions to the jury that they are required to follow the instructions of the court on all matters of law. There were different soundings in colonial days and the early days of our Republic. We are aware of the number and variety of expressions at that time from respected sources -- John Adams; Alexander Hamilton; prominent judges -- that jurors had a duty to find a verdict according to their own conscience, though in opposition to the direction of the court; that their power signified a right; that they were judges both of law and of fact in a criminal case, and not bound by the opinion of the court.

The rulings did not run all one way, but rather precipitated "a number of classic exchanges on the freedom and obligations of the criminal jury." This was, indeed, one of the points of clash between the contending forces staking out the direction of the government of the newly established Republic, a direction resolved in political terms by reforming but sustaining the status of the courts, without radical change. As the distrust of judges appointed and removable by the king receded, there came increasing acceptance that under a republic the protection of citizens lay not in recognizing the right of each jury to make its own law, but in following democratic processes for changing the law.

The crucial legal ruling came in United States v. Battiste (C.C.D.Mass. 1835). Justice Story's strong opinion supported the conception that the jury's function lay in accepting the law given to it by the court and applying that law to the facts. This considered ruling of an influential jurist won increasing acceptance in the nation. The youthful passion for independence accommodated itself to the reality that the former rebels were now in control of their own destiny, that the practical needs of stability and sound growth outweighed the abstraction of centrifugal philosophy, and that the judges in the courts, were not the colonial appointees projecting royalist patronage and influence but were themselves part and parcel of the nation's intellectual mainstream, subject to the checks of the common law tradition and professional opinion, and capable, in Roscoe Pound's words, of providing "true judicial justice" standing in contrast with the colonial experience.

The tide was turned by Battiste, but there were cross-currents. At mid-century the country was still influenced by the precepts of Jacksonian democracy, which spurred demands for direct selection of judges by the people through elections, and distrust of the judge-made common law which enhanced the movement for codification reform. But by the end of the century, even the most prominent state landmarks had been toppled; and the Supreme Court settled the matter for the Federal courts in Sparf v. United States (1895) after exhaustive review in both majority and dissenting opinions. The jury's role was respected as significant and wholesome, but it was not to be given instructions that articulated a right to do whatever it willed. The old rule survives today only as a singular relic.

The breadth of  the continuing prerogative of the jury, however, perseveres, as appears from the rulings permitting inconsistent verdicts. These reflect, in the words of Justice Holmes, an acknowledgment that "the jury has the power to bring in a verdict in the teeth of both law and facts," or as Judge Learned Hand said: "We interpret the acquittal as no more than their assumption of a power which they had no right to exercise, but to which they were disposed through lenity."

Since the jury's prerogative of lenity, again in Learned Hand's words introduces a "slack into the enforcement of law, tempering its rigor by the mollifying influence of current ethical conventions," it is only just, say appellants, that the jurors be so told. It is unjust to withhold information on the jury power of "nullification," since conscientious jurors may come, ironically, to abide by their oath as jurors to render verdicts offensive to their individual conscience, to defer to an assumption of necessity that is contrary to reality.

This so-called right of jury nullification is put forward in the name of liberty and democracy, but its explicit avowal risks the ultimate logic of anarchy. This is the concern voiced by Judge Sobeloff in United States v. Moylan (4th Cir. 1969):

To encourage individuals to make their own determinations as to which laws they will obey and which they will permit themselves as a matter of conscience to disobey is to invite chaos. No legal system could long survive if it gave every individual the option of disregarding with impunity any law which by his personal standard was judged morally untenable. Toleration of such conduct would not be democratic, as appellants claim, but inevitably anarchic.

The statement that avowal of the jury's prerogative runs the risk of anarchy, represents, in all likelihood, the habit of thought of philosophy and logic, rather than the prediction of the social scientist. But if the statement contains an element of hyperbole, the existence of risk and danger, of significant magnitude, cannot be gainsaid. In contrast, the advocates of jury "nullification" apparently assume that the articulation of the jury's power will not extend its use or extent, or will not do so significantly or obnoxiously. Can this assumption fairly be made? We know that a posted limit of 60 m.p.h. produces factual speeds 10 or even 15 miles greater, with an understanding all around that some "tolerance" is acceptable to the authorities, assuming conditions warrant. But can it be supposed that the speeds would stay substantially the same if the speed limit were put: Drive as fast as you think appropriate, without the posted limit as an anchor, a point of departure?

Our jury system is a resultant of many vectors, some explicit, and some rooted in tradition, continuity and general understanding without express formulation. A constitution may be meaningful though it is unwritten, as the British have proved for 900 years.

The jury system has worked out reasonably well overall, providing "play in the joints" that imparts flexibility and avoid undue rigidity. An equilibrium has evolved -- an often marvelous balance -- with the jury acting as a "safety valve" for exceptional cases, without being a wildcat or runaway institution. There is reason to believe that the simultaneous achievement of modest jury equity and avoidance of intolerable caprice depends on formal instructions that do not expressly delineate a jury charter to carve out its own rules of law....

The way the jury operates may be radically altered if there is alteration in the way it is told to operate. The jury knows well enough that its prerogative is not limited to the choices articulated in the formal instructions of the court. The jury gets its understanding as to the arrangements in the legal system from more than one voice. There is the formal communication from the judge.  There is the informal communication from the total culture -- literature (novel, drama, film, and television); current comment (newspapers, magazines and television); conversation; and, of course, history and tradition. The totality of input generally convey adequately enough the idea of prerogative, of freedom in an occasional case to depart from what the judge says. Even indicators that would on their face seem too weak to notice -- like the fact that the judge tells the jury it must acquit (in case of reasonable doubt) but never tells the jury in so many words that it must convict -- are a meaningful part of the jury's total input. Law is a system, and it is also a language, with secondary meanings that may be unrecorded yet are part of its life.

When the legal system relegates the information of the jury's prerogative to an essentially informal input, it is not being duplicitous, chargeable with chicane and intent to deceive. The limitation to informal input is, rather a governor to avoid excess: the prerogative is reserved for the exceptional case, and the judge's instruction is retained as a generally effective constraint. We "recognize a constraint as obligatory upon us when we require not merely reason to defend our rule departures, but damn good reason." The practicalities of men, machinery and rules point up the danger of articulating discretion to depart from a rule, that the breach will be more often and casually invoked. We cannot gainsay that occasionally jurors uninstructed as to the prerogative may feel themselves compelled to the point of rigidity. The danger of the excess rigidity that may now occasionally exist is not as great as the danger of removing the boundaries of constraint provided by the announced rules.

We should also note the inter-relation of the unanimity requirement for petit juries, which was applicable to this trial, and is still the general rule though no longer constitutionally required for state courts. This is an additional reason -- a material consideration, though neither a necessary nor sufficient condition -- to brake the wheels of those who would tell the petit jurors they are to determine the rules of law, either directly or by telling them they are free to disregard the judge's statement of the rules. The democratic principle would not be furthered, as proponents of jury nullification claim, it would be disserved by investing in a jury that must be unanimous the function not merely of determining facts, hard enough for like-minded resolution, but of determining the rules of law.

Rules of law or justice involve choice of values and ordering of objectives for which unanimity is unlikely in any society, or group representing the society, especially a society as diverse in cultures and interests as ours. To seek unity out of diversity, under the national motto, there must be a procedure for decision by vote of a majority or prescribed plurality -- in accordance with democratic philosophy. To assign the role of mini-legislature to the various petit juries, who must hang if not unanimous, exposes criminal law and administration to paralysis, and to a deadlock that betrays rather than furthers the assumptions of viable democracy.

Moreover, to compel a juror involuntarily assigned to jury duty to assume the burdens of mini-legislator or judge, as is implicit in the doctrine of nullification, is to put untoward strains on the jury system. It is one thing for a juror to know that the law condemns, but he has a factual power of lenity. To tell him expressly of a nullification prerogative, however, is to inform him, in effect, that it is he who fashions the rule that condemns. That is an overwhelming responsibility, an extreme burden for the jurors' psyche. And it is not inappropriate to add that a juror called upon for an involuntary public service is entitled to the protection, when he takes action that he knows is right, but also knows is unpopular, either in the community at large or in his own particular grouping, that he can fairly put it to friends and neighbors that he was merely following the instructions of the court.

In the last analysis, our rejection of the request for jury nullification doctrine is a recognition that there are times when logic is not the only or even best guide to sound conduct of government. For machines, one can indulge the person who likes to tinker in pursuit of fine tuning. When men and judicial machinery are involved, one must attend to the many and complex mechanisms and reasons that lead men to change their conduct -- when they know they are being studied; when they are told of the consequences of their conduct; and when conduct exercised with restraint as an unwritten exception is expressly presented as a legitimate option.

What makes for health as an occasional medicine would be disastrous as a daily diet. The fact that there is widespread existence of the jury's prerogative, and approval of its existence as a "necessary counter to case-hardened judges and arbitrary prosecutors," does not establish as an imperative that the jury must be informed by the judge of that power. On the contrary, it is pragmatically useful to structure instructions in such wise that the jury must feel strongly about the values involved in the case, so strongly that it must itself identify the case as establishing a call of high conscience, and must independently initiate and undertake an act in contravention of the established instructions. This requirement of independent jury conception confines the happening of the lawless jury to the occasional instance that does not violate, and viewed as an exception may even enhance, the over-all normative effect of the rule of law. An explicit instruction to a jury conveys an implied approval that runs the risk of degrading the legal structure requisite for true freedom, for an ordered liberty that protects against anarchy as well as tyranny....

BAZELON, Chief Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part:

My disagreement with the Court concerns the issue of jury nullification. As the Court's opinion clearly acknowledges, there can be no doubt that the jury has "an unreviewable and unreversible power * * * to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge * * *."  More important, the Court apparently concedes -- although in somewhat grudging terms -- that the power of nullification is a "necessary counter to case-hardened judges and arbitrary prosecutors," and that exercise of the power may, in at least some instances, "enhance, the over-all normative effect of the rule of law."
We could not withhold that concession without scoffing at the rationale that underlies the right to jury trial in criminal cases, and belittling some of the most legendary episodes in our political and jurisprudential history.

The sticking point, however, is whether or not the jury should be told of its power to nullify the law in a particular case. Here, the trial judge not only denied a requested instruction on nullification, but also barred defense counsel from raising the issue in argument before the jury. The majority affirms that ruling. I see no justification for, and considerable harm in, this deliberate lack of candor.

At trial, the defendants made no effort to deny that they had committed the acts charged. Their defense was designed to persuade the jury that it would be unconscionable to convict them of violating a statute whose general validity and applicability they did not challenge. An instruction on nullification -- or at least some argument to the jury on that issue -- was, therefore, the linchpin of the defense. 

At the outset it is important to recognize that the trial judge was not simply neutral on the question of nullification. His instruction, set out in part in the margin, emphatically denied the existence of a "legal defense" based on "sincere religious motives" or a belief that action was justified by "some higher law." That charge was not directly inconsistent with the theory of jury nullification. Nullification is not a "defense" recognized by law, but rather a mechanism that permits a jury, as community conscience, to disregard the strict requirements of law where it finds that those requirements cannot justly be applied in a particular case. Yet the impact of the judge's instruction, whatever his intention, was almost surely to discourage the jury from measuring the defendants' action against community concepts of blameworthiness.

Thus, we are left with a doctrine that may "enhance the over-all normative effect of the rule of law," but, at the same time, one that must not only be concealed from the jury, but also effectively condemned in the jury's presence. Plainly, the justification for this sleight-of-hand lies in a fear that an occasionally noble doctrine will, if acknowledged, often be put to ignoble and abusive purposes -- or, to borrow the Court's phrase, will "run the risk of anarchy."  A breakdown of the legal order is not a result I would knowingly encourage or enjoy. But the question cannot be resolved, at least at this stage of the argument, by asking if we are for or against anarchy, or if we are willing to tolerate a little less law and order so that we can permit a little more jury nullification. No matter how horrible the effect feared by the Court, the validity of its reasoning depends on the existence of a demonstrable connection between the alleged cause (a jury nullification instruction or argument to the jury on that issue) and that effect. I am unable to see a connection.

To be sure, there are abusive purposes, discussed below, to which the doctrine might be put. The Court assumes that these abuses are most likely to occur if the doctrine is formally described to the jury by argument or instruction. That assumption, it should be clear, does not rest on any proposition of logic. It is nothing more or less than a prediction of how jurors will react to the judge's instruction or argument by counsel. And since we have no empirical data to measure the validity of the prediction, we must rely on our own rough judgments of its plausibility.

The Court reasons that a jury uninformed of its power to nullify will invoke that power only where it "feels strongly about the values involved in the case, so strongly that it [will] itself identify the case as establishing a call of high conscience * * *."  In other words, the spontaneous and unsolicited act of nullification is thought less likely, on the whole, to reflect bias and a perverse sense of values than the act of nullification carried out by a jury carefully instructed on its power and responsibility.

It seems substantially more plausible to me to assume that the very opposite is true. The juror motivated by prejudice seems to me more likely to make spontaneous use of the power to nullify, and more likely to disregard the judge's exposition of the normally controlling legal standards. The conscientious juror, who could make a careful effort to consider the blameworthiness of the defendant's action in light of prevailing community values, is the one most likely to obey the judge's admonition that the jury enforce strict principles of law.

Moreover, if it were true that nullification which arises out of ignorance is in some sense more worthy than nullification which arises out of knowledge, the Court would have to go much further. For under the Court's assumption, the harm does not arise because a jury is
told of its power to disregard the law, but because it knows of its power. Logically construed, the Court's opinion would seem to require the disqualification at voir dire of any prospective juror who admitted to knowledge of the doctrine. By excluding jurors with knowledge of the doctrine the Court could insure that its invocation would be spontaneous. And yet, far from requiring the exclusion of jurors who are aware of the power, the Court takes comfort in the fact that informal communication to the jury "generally conveys adequately enough the idea of prerogative, of freedom in an occasional case to depart from what the judge says." Majority opinion at 1135. One cannot, it seems to me, have the argument both ways. If, as the Court appears to concede, awareness is preferable to ignorance, then I simply do not understand the justification for relying on a haphazard process of informal communication whose effectiveness is likely to depend, to a large extent, on whether or not any of the jurors are so well-educated and astute that they are able to receive the message. If the jury should know of its power to disregard the law, then the power should be explicitly described by instruction of the court or argument of counsel.

My own view rests on the premise that nullification can and should serve an important function in the criminal process. I do not see it as a doctrine that exists only because we lack the power to punish  [*1142]  jurors who refuse to enforce the law or to re-prosecute a defendant whose acquittal cannot be justified in the strict terms of law. The doctrine permits the jury to bring to bear on the criminal process a sense of fairness and particularized justice. The drafters of legal rules cannot anticipate and take account of every case where a defendant's conduct is "unlawful" but not blameworthy, any more than they can draw a bold line to mark the boundary between an accident and negligence. It is the jury -- as spokesman for the community's sense of values -- that must explore that subtle and elusive boundary.

Admittedly, the concept of blameworthiness does not often receive explicit recognition in the criminal process. But it comes very close to breaking through the surface in cases where the responsibility defense is raised, 
and it is implicit in every case where criminal sanctions are imposed. More than twenty-five years ago this Court recognized that "our collective conscience does not allow punishment where it cannot impose blame." 
 
The very essence of the jury's function is its role as spokesman for the community conscience in determining whether or not blame can be imposed.

I do not see any reason to assume that jurors will make rampantly abusive use of their power. Trust in the jury is, after all, one of the cornerstones of our entire criminal jurisprudence, and if that trust is without foundation we must re-examine a great deal more than just the nullification doctrine. Nevertheless, some abuse can be anticipated. If a jury refuses to apply strictly the controlling principles of law, it may -- in conflict with values shared by the larger community -- convict a defendant because of prejudice against him, or acquit a defendant because of sympathy for him and prejudice against his victim. Our fear of unjust conviction is plainly understandable. But it is hard for me to see how a nullification instruction could enhance the likelihood of that result. The instruction would speak in terms of acquittal, not conviction, and it would provide no comfort to a juror determined to convict a defendant in defiance of the law or the facts of the case. Indeed, unless the jurors
ignored the nullification instruction they could not convict on the grounds of prejudice alone. Does the judge's recitation of the instruction increase the likelihood that the jury will ignore the limitation that lies at its heart? I hardly think so.

As for the problem of unjust acquittal, it is important to recognize the strong internal check that constrains the jury's willingness to acquit. Where defendants seem dangerous, juries are unlikely to exercise their nullification power, whether or not an explicit instruction is offered. Of course, that check will not prevent the acquittal of a defendant who may be blameworthy and dangerous except in the jaundiced eyes of a jury motivated by a perverse and sectarian sense of values. But whether a nullification instruction would make such acquittals more common is problematical, if not entirely inconceivable. In any case, the real problem in this situation is not the nullification doctrine, but the values and prejudice that prompt the acquittal. And the solution is not to condemn the nullification power, but to spotlight the prejudice and parochial values that underlie the verdict in the hope that public outcry will force a re-examination of those values, and deter their implementation in subsequent cases. Surely nothing is gained by the pretense that the jurors lack the power to nullify, since that pretense deprives them of the opportunity to hear the very instruction that might compel them to confront their responsibility.

One often-cited abuse of the nullification power is the acquittal by bigoted juries of whites who commit crimes (lynching, for example) against blacks. That repellent practice cannot be directly arrested without jeopardizing important constitutional protections -- the double jeopardy bar and the jury's power of nullification. But the revulsion and sense of shame fostered by that practice fueled the civil rights movement, which in turn made possible the enactment of major civil rights legislation. That same movement spurred on the revitalization of the equal protection clause and, in particular, the recognition of the right to be tried before a jury selected without bias. The lessons we learned from these abuses helped to create a climate in which such abuses could not so easily thrive.

Moreover, it is not only the abuses of nullification that can inform our understanding of the community's values and standards of blameworthiness. The noble uses of the power -- the uses that "enhance the over-all normative effect of the rule of law" -- also provide an important input to our evaluation of the substantive standards of the criminal law. The reluctance of juries to hold defendants responsible for unmistakable violations of the prohibition laws told us much about the morality of those laws and about the "criminality" of the conduct they proscribed. And the same can be said of the acquittals returned under the fugitive slave law as well as contemporary gaming and liquor laws. A doctrine that can provide us with such critical insights should not be driven underground.

On remand the trial judge should grant defendants' request for a nullification instruction. At the very least, I would require the trial court to permit defendants to argue the question before the jury. But it is not at all clear that defendants would prevail even with the aid of an instruction or argument. After all, this case is significantly different from the classic, exalted cases where juries historically invoked the power to nullify. Here, the defendants have no quarrel with the general validity of the law under which they have been charged. They did not simply refuse to obey a government edict that they considered illegal, and whose illegality they expected to demonstrate in a judicial proceeding. Rather, they attempted to protest government action by interfering with others -- specifically, the Dow Chemical Company. This is a distinction which could and should be explored in argument before the jury. If revulsion against the war in Southeast Asia has reached a point where a jury would be unwilling to convict a defendant for commission of the acts alleged here, we would be far better advised to ponder the implications of that result than to spend our time devising stratagems which let us pretend that the power of nullification does not even exist.
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