Skip to comments.Jury Nullification Advocate Is Indicted
Posted on 02/25/2011 10:52:20 AM PST by Second Amendment First
Since 2009, Mr. Heicklen has stood there and at courthouse entrances elsewhere and handed out pamphlets encouraging jurors to ignore the law if they disagree with it, and to render verdicts based on conscience.
That concept, called jury nullification, is highly controversial, and courts are hostile to it. But federal prosecutors have now taken the unusual step of having Mr. Heicklen indicted on a charge that his distributing of such pamphlets at the courthouse entrance violates the law against jury tampering. He was arraigned on Friday in a somewhat contentious hearing before Judge Kimba M. Wood, who entered a not guilty plea on his behalf when he refused to say how he would plead. During the proceeding, he railed at the judge and the government, and called the indictment a tissue of lies.
Mr. Heicklen insists that he never tries to influence specific jurors or cases, and instead gives his brochures to passers-by, hoping that jurors are among them.
But he feels his message must be getting out, or the government would not have brought charges against him.
If I werent having any effect, would they do this? said Mr. Heicklen, whose former colleagues recall him as a talented and unconventional educator. You dont have to be a genius to figure this thing out.
Prosecutors declined to comment on his case, as did Sabrina Shroff, a lawyer who was assigned to assist Mr. Heicklen. (He is acting as his own lawyer.)
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Some lawyer, huh?
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1789): I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
JOHN ADAMS (1771): It’s not only ....(the juror’s) right, but his duty, in that case, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1804): Jurors should acquit even against the judge’s instruction....”if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction that the charge of the court is wrong.”
U.S. vs. DOUGHERTY (1972) [D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals]: The jury has....”unreviewable and irreversible power...to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge.”
Judges “instructing” juries should be illegal. Advise, yes, but instruct, no.
Actually, jury nullification goes back to the beginnings of this nation
The publicity over this will destroy citizen confidence in the Just Us system far more than this guy's pamphlets, and he'll beat the rap with twelve jurors nullifying instead of one.
No that was Lainie Guinier.
However Wood is of kindred spirit
>>Only judges are allowed to influence juries, even if they do so in unconstitutional ways.<<
In the courtroom, but handing out pamphlets on the street is a free speech issue. Now, if what he is saying is false, that is another matter.
I’ve been on two juries, both of which were for trials that lasted roughly a month. In both cases I told my fellow jurors that, regardless of what the judge instructs, each of us can individually decide which way to vote in any way we see fit, even if it’s because you don’t like the guys heairstyle. It’s really only common sense.
I did not know at the time that it was called jury nullification (it was 20 years ago) but I knew enough about law to look up the responsibilities of the individual juror, plus, I saw 12 angry men. ;)
In my opinion, jury tampering is only a valid charge if he handed out the pamphlets only to specific juror(s) for purposes of influencing the verdict in specific case(s).
Excellent quotes. Thanks.
I’m wondering how the prosecution is going to make its case, dancing around the offense he is alleged to have committed.
Even then it is covered by the First Amendment. Why? It’s not germane to the facts of the specific case. It’s no different then telling jurors that 2+2 is 4.
His pamphlet should be entered into evidence, and trial by jury.
The jury can then examine the evidence.
That will be interesting for sure.
No, it is not. This is no attempt to defraud, slander, defame. It is still free speech even if false.
And even in a case like this -- WHO determines what is political fact, or a historical fact? The history of jury nullification is strong and a certain influence upon the Bill of Rights. Go look up the Trial of William Penn in London.