A Florida circuit judge has issued an administrative order virtually certain to result in a court battle pitting the right of free speech against the duty of courts to protect the integrity of jury deliberations. The order prohibits the dissemination of all leaflets and other materials to summoned jurors, ....Hope so.
Several months prior to entry of the order, another judge in the same circuit felt compelled to disqualify a jury panel whose members were found to be in possession of FJIA educational pamphlets, concluding that the distribution of the materials to prospective jurors was a form of jury tampering under Florida law. Florida statutes make it a third degree felony to influence a juror with the intent to obstruct justice.
The FJIA contends that their information is generic and is intended solely to educate jurors on the historical right to acquit a criminal defendant, even in the face of evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, if they conclude that the law is unjust or is being unjustly applied. ...
The order will undoubtedly be attacked as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech, at least in the absence of evidence that the dissemination of the information created a clear and present danger to the administration of justice. It is highly doubtful that the order as drafted can withstand a constitutional challenge.