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If a jury decides that the prosecution has manufactured evidence against a defendant, are they entitled to find a defendant not guilty, even if they think that the defendant committed the crime they were accused of?

If they did decide to do that, would that be considered a case of jury nullification?

If they are not entitled to do so, what deterrents are there against the prosecution manufacturing evidence against defendants?

I'm thinking about this because of the OJ Simpson case, where I've heard that he did commit the crimes, but I've also heard that the prosecution manufactured evidence.

Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman subsequently faced charges of perjury because of the OJ Simpson case, but the jury would not have known whether he'd face such charges when they handed down their verdict.

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about law and not politics. – DJClayworth Jul 16 '13 at 15:36
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    I disagree, this question is completely about the politics of two high-profile cases. There is significant overlap between law and politics, and so far, I've been very willing to allow that scope. This meta is the place to take it – Affable Geek Jul 16 '13 at 18:44
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    As posed the question is entirely about legal process. It's about what a jury is allowed to do. The answer would be the same under any party government (given the same laws) and would be the same whatever the political views of the people involved. – DJClayworth Jul 17 '13 at 3:30
  • The question addresses the issue of "jury nullification." When it occurs, it is a political act. – Tom Au Jul 19 '13 at 12:32
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Practically, a jury can come to whatever verdict they want for whatever reason they want, and they won't be punished for that. This is what makes jury nullification possible.

But it is a little bit one-sided. If the jury finds a defendant to be Guilty, despite the weight of the evidence, That ruling can be appealed.

Jury nullification in the United States has its origins in colonial British America. Similar to British law, in the United States jury nullification occurs when a jury in a criminal case reaches a verdict contrary to the weight of evidence, sometimes because of a disagreement with the relevant law.1 The American jury draws its power of nullification from its right to render a general verdict in criminal trials, the inability of criminal courts to direct a verdict no matter how strong the evidence, the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause, which prohibits the appeal of an acquittal,2 and the fact that jurors can never be punished for the verdict they return.[3]


In the case where the prosecution manufactured evidence, the judge will often declare the trial to be a mistrial, and they would have to start the trial over again.

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The jury is obligated to find the defendant not guilty if they have ANY reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charges presented against them. Even if they fully believe that the defendant did what he is accused of doing, if the evidence presented leaves any reasonable doubt then the obligation is to find the defendant not guilty.

If after a defendant is found guilty the police are shown to have manufactured evidence to convict, then the judge usually will vacate the conviction. Usually this will lead to the charges being dismissed as this calls into question the reliability of the police officers testimony. However, it is up to the judge whether or not they want to allow a retrial and to the prosecutor to decide if they want to retry the case.

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If a jury decided that a prosecution presented 'manufactured evidence' then that obviously disallows that 'evidence' as real evidence. It does not imply that the prosecution was respinsible for the manufactured evidence. If it tirns out that the manufactured evidence was on the instigation of the prosecution, then that throws doubt on the integrity of the prosecution and would result in perjury and contempt of court. This maybresult in imprisonment.

It does not mean that the defendent is not guilty. He or she may be. The point is left undecided until a prosecution with some kind of integrity is assembled and the case then proceed.

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  • I think you’re being entirely too generous to the prosecution here. If the police manufactured fraudulent evidence in order to convict someone, then it casts reasonable doubt on all the other evidence they presented and pretty much requires a “not guilty” verdict – divibisan Apr 3 at 18:58
  • @divibisan: I'm simply being careful about the term 'manufactured evidence'. I don't assume right from the start that this was instigated by the prosecution, though of course natural suspicion does fall upon them - I mean, in the balance of probabilities. – Mozibur Ullah Apr 3 at 19:01
  • I see. You’re leaving open the possibility that the police made an honest mistake and trusted evidence manipulated by a third party, in which case it wouldn’t contaminate the rest of their case. That makes sense – divibisan Apr 3 at 19:03
  • @divibisan: I think that this will depend upon the seriousness of the crime. A traffic offence will be thrown out, but a traffic accident leading to death - well, one has to be more careful there. – Mozibur Ullah Apr 3 at 19:04

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