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 ...
What are their names? Why did they do this unconscionable act?
Free Speech is "jury tampering"?
These SOB's can't even get an indictment against Mafia gangsters who really are doing that, and they go after a decent man on the street?
Despicable. Tell us who they are so we can heap shame on them.
Scuttlebutt from a long ago, dismissed, hung-jury, marijuana smoking case in California.
“It they want to smoke pot, let them.”
It’s exclusion should be reason for appeal, I would think.
When one is asked a question and the answer does not include the "whole truth" re critical information to make an informed decision, is that lying? When I was a kid, my dad thought so.
Conscientious juuries frighten the heck out of out corrupt LEO/Judiciary complex.
I’d be interested in knowing what, specifically, he was indicted for. What’s the actual law he is charged with breaking?
This is clearly a very conscientious man. A true hero.
They’ve been harassing him, too, evidently.
Jury nullification goes way back in this land, famously in colonial times when it was used to protect freedom of speech, later in prosecution of the Fugitive Slave Act and during Prohibition. Unfortunately, it was also abused during the Jim Crow days, exonerating obviously guilty whites of crimes against blacks. You take the bad with the good.
The power is absolute and constitutional, upheld multiple times. However, its application has been eroded by later decisions. By the late 1800s judges didn’t have to inform the jury of their power, and by the 1960s they were allowed to prevent the jury from being told in the courtroom that they had this power at all (a judge will declare a mistrial if the defense tries). This guy was simply trying to inform potential jury members of their legal power and their rights as citizens. Consider it Miranda for juries.
“It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision ... you have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy” — John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States
>>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.<<
That is the money quote. When courts hand down decisions, the decision is written with an explanation, such as the 78 pager written by the judge in Florida on the unconstitutionality of obamacare. But a juror is merely asked, if asked at all, is this your vote”. Both times I was on jury duty, after the vertict was announced, each of us were asked for our personal vote.
A juror does not have to justify his decision. The implications are enormous. I was actually thumbing my nose at one judge (In my head, of course) during one small part of his instructions.
No jury. “Because he was charged with a misdemeanor, she said, he was not entitled to a jury trial”
>>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).<<
Exactly how I see it. If they cannot prove he was targeting specific jurors, I honestly do not know how they think they have a case. I think this is intimidation and if he calls them on the bluff, eventually they will have no choice but to blink. And if I were him, I’d ask for a jury trial. :)
A judge "directing" a verdict is a total distortion of the court system. Even chief justices have promoted jury nullification as the greatest balance to the judicial branch. Problem now is we have extreme corruption in the court room.
He only need present those four quotes in his defense case. ;)
During prohibition, especially in Florida, jurors just plain refused to convict rum runners. This irritated prosecutors so much that they first subverted the right against double jeopardy, but that didn’t work, because they couldn’t get a jury to convict no matter how hard they tried.
So judges hit on the idea of using an injunction against them that was so restrictive they couldn’t conduct business. This worked, because if they violated terms of their injunction, they would immediately be taken before that same judge, who would convict them on the spot for “contempt of court”, which didn’t merit a jury trial. So that was up to one year in jail.
Almost immediately this was corrupted so that there was no way they could *not* violate the injunction, including the use of clearly unconstitutional restrictions.
And even when prohibition ended, these techniques did not. Some are still in use. So while jury nullification might work for a while, a court system that does not care what the public thinks will seek to overcome it.
I think the tyranny is running scared.
According to the article: “distributing of such pamphlets at the courthouse entrance violates the law against jury tampering”
The Professor is a crusader, and he has been harassed for informing the jury pool of our common law inheritance — Jury Nullification — before.
There is also a strong current of the War On Drugs here, so we get some “conservative” judges adamantly hammering down on any whiff of “jury nullification” ideas and the persons who would dare say they apply.
See for additional info on the Professor’s crusade: http://www.peoplevstate.com/?p=795
Kimba Wood was Clinton’s second attempt at appointing an Attorney general. Like his first nominee, she was dumped for illegal “nanny” problems. Janet Reno ended up with the job.
Lani Guiniere was nominated by Clinton for Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division, but got dumped for being a radical and basically a complete goofball.