Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is the NH GOP Aware It HAS a Platform...?

A curious theme appears to be emerging in the Granite State with regard to the NH Republican Party and its stated objectives. The NH GOP's platform specifically states that the party supports expressly acknowledging the right of jury nullification (find some historical opinions on the matter here). Just as the NH GOP's platform specifically states that the party supports the right to record cops, thereby holding public servants accountable (which also resulted in some recent confusion).
The Legal System
The Republican Party believes that the New Hampshire Advantage is, in part, secured and promoted by a legal system that upholds the safety, values and freedoms of law-abiding citizens. We will work to maintain a legal system that provides every citizen prompt and impartial justice by: ...
* Support jurors being instructed on the right of jury nullification
And yet somehow the GOP-dominated House Judiciary Committee nevertheless managed to unanimously recommend killing HB146, 'relative to the right of jury nullification,' NH's 2011 "fully informed jury" bill. Here's the majority opinion blurb published in the House Calendar, where it was placed on the Consent Calendar, with other "non-controversial" bills:
HOUSE CALENDAR
CONSENT CALENDAR
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23

JUDICIARY

HB 146, relative to the right of jury nullification. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Gregory M Sorg for Judiciary: This bill would require judges in all court proceedings to “instruct the jury of its inherent right to judge the law and the facts and to nullify any and all actions they find to be unjust.” The committee concluded that, as drafted, this bill would incorrectly instruct the jury to put the law on trial rather than the application of the law in the case actually before it. The committee further concluded that the so-called “Wentworth” instruction, by which the judge instructs the jury that if it finds that the prosecution has proved all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, it should find the defendant guilty, adequately informs the jury of its unquestioned right of nullification without misleading it. Vote 15-0.
By all indications, much party chaos, embarrassment and hysteria ensued, as it discovered the transparently tenuous nature of its own allegiance to principle, on display for all to appreciate. Here is the subsequent floor debate, mere days later, to salvage both intended citizen control over government, and Republican self-respect, 2/23/2011. The result? Back to Committee. We're gonna keep doin' this until you get it right...! Thank you, Speaker O'Brien.


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