Fully Informed Jury Association

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Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 22 Jan 2011

Jurors Unanimously Say NO to Abuse of Laws to Harass Phil Mocek


For those who are not familiar with the case of State of New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek:
What is this case about?

Phil Mocek was arrested by Albuquerque police at a TSA checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport on November 15, 2009. He had a valid ticket on Southwest Airlines (”You are now free to move about the country”), and was attempting to get to his flight. Like the “Freedom Riders” of the 1960s on interstate buses, Mr. Mocek sought to exercise his Federally and Constitutionally-guaranteed right to travel, but was arrested by local police for alleged violations of state and local laws and ordinances.

The first statement by the police (on their own live audio recording) was that he was being arrested, “for being stupid”. The real motivations of the police for arresting Mr. Mocek remain a potential issue at trial. Based on the available evidence, we are concerned that Mr. Mocek was arrested because he declined to show ID credentials, declined to answer questions about his identity, and/or because he attempted to photograph and record his interactions with the TSA and police – all of which were activities protected by the First Amendment and other laws.

See the video Mr. Mocek recorded of TSA and law enforcement officers abusing their powers in an attempt to intimidate him into compliance and out of exercising his rights:

For exercising his Constitutionally-guaranteed human rights in contradiction to unlawful demands of the TSA agents and law enforcement officers, Mr. Mocek was charged and prosecuted on four counts. Mr. Mocek was put in jeopardy of a total maximum sentence of 15 months in jail.

We are happy to report yesterday’s verdict in the case was unanimously NOT GUILTY on all counts:

Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury

A six-woman Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court jury has found Phil Mocek “NOT GUILTY” of all of the charges brought against him following his arrest in November 2009 at the TSA checkpoint at the Albuquerque airport.

Mr. Mocek did not testify, and the defense rested on Friday without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence. the jury found that even without rebuttal, the TSA and Albuquerque police had failed to satisfy their burden of proving any of the four charges: concealing his identity, refusing to obey a lawful order (it was never entirely clear whether this was supposed to have been an order to turn off his camera, an order to leave the airport despite having a valid ticket, or an order to show ID, none of which would have been lawful orders), trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

The best evidence in the case was the video from Mr. Mocek’s digital camera that both the TSA and the police had tried to stop Mr. Mocek from filming, and which ended when they seized his camera out of his hands and shut it off. In her closing argument, defense counsel Molly Schmidt-Nowara argued that the police and TSA witnesses were not credible, that their testimony was contradicted by the video and by common sense, that what they really objected to was having Mr. Mocek legally take pictures, and that any disorderly conduct was on the part of the police and TSA.

The verdict of “NOT GUILY” on all counts shows that the jurors saw through the police and TSA lies.

Annoying the TSA is not a crime. Photography is not a crime. You have the right to fly without ID, and to photograph, film, and record what happens. Your best defense is your own camera and microphone. Ordinary jurors know, and are prepared to recognize with their verdict, that the TSA and police lie about what they are doing and why.

Click through for the entire summary from Papers, Please!

Juror nullification happens any time a jury refuses to enforce a misguided prosecution, a bad law, or a misapplied law. Nullification can happen in any instance when jurors exercise their authority to protect someone from any over-reaching government action. Any action which violates either the Constitution or human rights, not necessarily in that order, must be nullified. We applaud the jurors in this case for protecting Mr. Mocek’s rights, and all of our rights in the process.