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Articles by J.D. Schmidt

Jury Nullification: The People’s Tool Against Bad Laws and Bad Legal Actors

by J.D. Schmidt

A specter is haunting the courtrooms of the United States—the specter of jury nullification. All the powers of the United States legal system have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this specter: judge, prosecutor, and legal scholar, “conservative” and “liberal” alike. What is jury nullification, and why do so many people in positions of power in American jurisprudence either refuse to speak of it or openly attack it?

Jury nullification is a centuries-old practice that exists in many countries. In the U.S., it is a highly contested but historically legal practice with pre-Revolutionary roots in English common law. A law is said to be “nullified” in a particular case when a jury refuses, or is unable, to apply it as written by lawmakers or described to them by prosecutors and judges. Cases in recent years involving issues from drug offenses to climate change protests and even the January 2021 riot at the Capitol have stirred up interest in, and debate over, jury nullification. 

Nullification in a Nutshell

“The judge can come outside and speak to me.” This is what Keith Eric Wood told a Mecosta County, Michigan, sheriff’s deputy who stopped him from handing out a ...

I, Robot, Am The LAW!

Robot Dogs, Lethal Autonomous Weapons, and the Dawn of Robo-dystopia

by J.D. Schmidt

Back in 1942 when science fiction author Isaac Asimov introduced his “Three Laws of Robotics” in a short story, he was imagining how we could grapple with some of the problems that might arise as human beings ...

Highway Robbers Return Money Taken from Ex-Marine The Catch? They Were Cops

by J.D. Schmidt

While driving cross-country from Texas to California in February, retired Marine Stephen Lara was pulled over by the Nevada Highway Patrol. Little did Lara know, but he was about to become the victim of an all too common form of (legal) highway robbery: a thorough fleecing at ...

Boston Cops Fleece Citizens to Secretly Buy Controversial Spy Tech

by J.D. Schmidt

Boston police used money obtained via civil asset forfeiture to secretly purchase high-tech cell phone surveillance equipment, a new report claims. The exposé, published jointly by Pro Publica and WBUR, details how the Boston Police Department (“BPD”) used over $600,000 from a civil asset forfeiture “slush fund” ...



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