The concept of jury nullification – namely, that a jury can refuse to convict, no matter what the facts of the case or the letter of the law may be – is absolutely fundamental to jurisprudence.
Without it, the law becomes a coldly inhuman axiomatic system, which is necessarily devoid of any such concept as justice.
Nullification is the process by which the jury judges the law itself. If the jury finds the law to be unjust, it can simply refuse to apply it.
And then there’s Canada…
Technically, Canadian juries have the ability to nullify, but Canadian judges refuse to acknowledge that they have a right to do so.
Worse, the concept of nullification is not taught in Canadian schools, and Canadian defence attorneys are specifically prohibited from informing juries that they may nullify the law.
In the rare cases when Canadian juries attempt to nullify, Canadian judges almost always manage to bully them into convicting. And when the jury nullifies anyway, the Crown simply appeals as many times as necessary to get a conviction.
The one and only counter example I could find is the case of R. v. Morgentaler, in which the crown finally gave up after being repeatedly thwarted by jury after jury for a decade.
Interesting point about the linguistics, CodeSlinger!
As a matter of fact, when Vigna sued Ezra Levant for defamation, he did so in French, even though the complained of words were published in English. While it did not occur to me then, I have been thinking about it later and I think that had the trial been held in English, the outcome may well have been different.
Precisely because some words do not translate accurately from one language to another.
One complained of terms, which was found to be defamatory, was the word ‘fib’. As in, Ezra Levant said the Mr. Vigna had ‘fibbed’ about something. Vigna said that as a lawyer, he cannot be acused of lying and went on to say that fib means a lie. Of course, all of this was being argued in French. I don’t know if there is a direct translation of ‘fib’ into French, but Vigna was definitely translating the word as ‘lie’, which is not entirely accurate: the words have very different colouring.