The Interplay of Race and False Claims of Jury Nullification

After the verdicts in the OJ Simpson and Stacey Koon/Laurence Powell cases, many in the press explained the juries’ acquittals as instances of jury nullification. However these were unlikely to have been instances of nullification, particularly because the jurors explained that their verdicts were based on reasonable doubt. One motivation for these false claims of jury nullification was the homogeneity of the juries-a largely African-American jury in the case of Simpson and a largely white jury in the case of Koon/Powell. Nullification became the term by which press and public attempted to discredit verdicts rendered by juries they distrusted. A false claim of nullification could also be used, as with the Simpson case, to perpetuate racial stereotypes. One step toward reducing false claims of nullification and their concomitant harms is to encourage diverse juries.