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Acquittals

Duke Law Journal

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Balancing Lenity, Rationality, And Finality: A Case For Special Verdict Forms In Cases Involving Overlapping Federal Criminal Offenses, Meghan A. Ferguson Mar 2010

Balancing Lenity, Rationality, And Finality: A Case For Special Verdict Forms In Cases Involving Overlapping Federal Criminal Offenses, Meghan A. Ferguson

Duke Law Journal

The Framers placed a high premium on jury independence and viewed the jury's ability to dispense lenity as an important check on the legislative and executive branches. Many features of the criminal justice system are designed to interpose the jury between the accused and overzealous legislators and prosecutors. The general verdict and the absolute finality of acquittals, for example, empower the jury to acquit a defendant against the weight of the evidence. Although these features of the criminal justice system were conceived to protect defendants, they may be more harmful than helpful to defendants, given changes in the criminal justice …