Must juries adhere to the letter of the law? A referendum in South Dakota might mean the end of that standard Read the LA Times story.
There are many times and places where the literal application of the law creates an injustice. That is undisputable. However, what would become of justice if each jury were to decide for itself the standard of justice? The result would be chaos.
The time for consideration of a law’s appropriateness is during the approval stage; i.e., in the legislative bodies. Unfortunately, that process does not always work as citizens wish it would.
A case in point is this country’s war on drugs. Read some interesting factoids on recent prison population statistics.
Most people are against drugs, certainly. However, I doubt seriously if most people believe in either the sentences being handed out under the related laws or the number of people being incarcerated.
The result, in some instances, is that juries refuses to apply the law. Is that a problem with the jury or the law? Depending on the circumstances of the case, it could be either.
Consider why we are fighting this so-called war. Are the benefits of restricting trade in these products worth the cost, as expressed in terms of the effort itelf and its unintended side-effects? That’s the question Congress should be asking itself on this topic.