Kim Straub

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Christine Sears

Committee Member

John Mohr

Committee Member

Stephen Waring


Jury nullification, Verdicts


This paper examines the changing cultural understandings of jury nullification, with a particular focus on non-judicial explanations from 1700 to 1850; how colonial executives, American legislatures, and the public understood acts of nullification. Early eighteenth-century observers tended to classify acts of jury nullification as anecdotal events placed in a strict socio-moral framework. Revolution brought about a radical new vision of nullification. Beginning in the 1750s, nullification was understood in a new hyper-political way that emphasized jury agency and independence. By the 1820s, the public returned to a socio-moral understanding of nullification. Once again, acts of nullification were explained as a consequence of emotional responses and social connections to the involved parties. The renewed socio-moral framework diminished the power of the jury and shaped the judiciary itself.



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