LIO Friend and revered civil rights activist, scientist Dr. Julian Heiklen was harassed by a crazed judge for handing out FIJA materials in a public area. This is criticized as part of a campaign by many judges to jeep jury rights in the background in the US. Libertarians have accomplished important improvements such as extending jury use, education on the right to ignore an unjust statute in the case, clearer instructions, better pay for jurors, and the right to take notes and ask questions among other informational issues. LI views 12 person informed juries as foundatiuonal to law.
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.”
Judge Wood added that she would not “stretch the interpretation” of the statute to cover speech that was “not meant to influence” a juror’s actions in a specific case.
Note that FIJA’s guidelines for activists (.pdf) include this important point- activists should conduct general outreach activity and avoid even the appearance of being associated with a particular case. If you would like to read the entire Opinion and Order from Judge Wood, please click here.