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Guilty, Not Guilty, Nullify: Imagining a 3-Option Verdict

Monday, April 4, 2016
12:15pm – 1:30pm

Storrs Campus
Oak 408

Colloquium Event

The UCHI Political Theory Workshop and the Department of Political Science Present

Guilty, Not Guilty, Nullify: Imagining a Three-Option Verdict

Sonali Chakravarti Assistant Professor of Government Wesleyan University

Monday, April 4 12:15PM-1:30PM Oak 408

Free and Open to the Public

About the Talk: Jury nullification refers to the power juries have (but are generally not instructed about) to find a defendant not guilty despite potentially ample evidence, thereby “nullifying” the power of the law in that case. Jury nullification is vulnerable to the harshest type of criticism, including that it introduces instability, bias, and corruption into a legal system whose integrity depends on the disavowal of the same. Yet, nullification should occur when an exceptional challenge to the authority of the criminal justice system is necessary to address urgent concerns such as disparate sentencing and high rates of incarceration. This paper considers the thought-experiment of a three-option verdict: guilty, not guilty, nullify as a way to examine what an assumption of political maturity would look like. Having the three-option verdict would end the current secrecy around the right to nullify and would make responsible decision-making around nullification a conversation in which the public would also be able to participate.

About the Speaker: Sonali Chakravarti received her BA from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D in political theory from Yale University. She is currently Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. Her work on the emotions and transitional justice has appeared in Constellations, Theory and Event, and the journal of Law, Culture, and Humanities. Her book Sing the Rage: Listening to Anger after Mass Violence was recently published by the University of Chicago Press. She is currently working on a project on the concept of political maturity, civil disobedience, and jury service.

This event is hosted by the UCHI Political Theory Workshop and the Department of Political Science.

For more information, contact Fred Lee (


Prof. Fred Lee (

Political Science (primary), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UConn Master Calendar

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