Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, April 20, 2012

Man allowed to inform public about jury law

The NY Times reports:
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the dismissal of an indictment against the professor, Julian P. Heicklen, who had been charged with jury tampering for advocating the controversial position known as jury nullification while outside the courthouse.

Mr. Heicklen had repeatedly stood with a “Jury Info” sign and handed out brochures supporting nullification, the view that jurors who disagree with a law may ignore their oaths and vote to acquit a defendant accused of violating it.

Prosecutors said such advocacy, “directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.”

But the judge, Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court, wrote that a person violated the jury tampering statute only when he or she knowingly tried to influence a juror’s decision through a written communication “made in relation to a specific case pending before that juror.”
No, that is an incorrect definition of nullification, and it is unlikely that Heicklen was advocating that jurors ignore their oaths. The Fully Informed Jury Association defines their message:
FIJA Activists Inform potential jurors of their traditional, legal authority to refuse to enforce corrupt laws; Inform potential jurors that they cannot be required to check their conscience at the courthouse door; Inform potential jurors that they cannot be punished for their verdict; Inform everyone to protect human rights against government tyranny. That is FIJA’s message.
A legal site defines:
Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty" despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate they are charged with deciding.
Wikipedia defines Jury nullification:
Jury nullification is a constitutional doctrine which allows juries to acquit criminal defendants who are technically guilty, but who do not deserve punishment. It occurs in a trial when a jury reaches a verdict contrary to the judge's instructions as to the law.
Jurors might take an oath to deliver a lawful verdict, and the judge might instruct them on the meaning of the law, but none of that contradicts FIJA's message to jurors. The jurors' role is not just to obey the judge's instructions; it is also to fulfull their constitutional role of rendering a just verdict.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

jury nullification may seem on the surface like a patriotic out in some cases. Certainly there are good historical example of Jury Nullification working well.

There are also thousands of cases where it failed disgracefully and criminally.

There were many trials held in the South with all white juries in which a white man was charged with all types of crimes and the evidence was overwhelming and as conclusive as having a video of the event. Yet the Juries did not find them guilty due to Nullification.

(((Wake UP Time))) - The OJ Simpson trial was a Jury Nullification Verdict. One Black Juror refused to vote guilty.

It is possible to have Jury Anarchy where Juries can find any one innocent because of Race or other reasons.

Remember it requires a Unanimous Verdict and any Juror could decide to """Nullify""" the Court decision. Further they could not be punished.

Jury Nullification could destroy the whole trial - jury system.

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