Fully Informed Jury Association

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FIJA in the News | 04 Feb 2011

Judge’s order bans FIJA educational activities, sparking free-speech debate


Judge Perry’s unconstitutional administrative order is having exactly the opposite effect of his intent. Rather than stopping jurors from learning about their authority when serving on juries, FIJA’s message has been picked up by yet another local media source, The Orlando Sentinel:

Judge’s order bans jury pamphlets, sparking free-speech debate
A passage with discussion by Roger Roots, FIJA Advisory Board member:

“Chief Judge Perry’s order is what is known as prior restraint–one of the most oppressive forms of censorship,” Roots said in a statement sent to the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday after the paper contacted a Florida FIJA representative earlier in the week.

“My initial assessment of Chief Judge Perry’s order is that the order conflicts with dozens of settled U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the rights of citizens to speak and pass out handbills and flyers in public places,” Roots said in his statement. “The fact that the courthouse is an important public building where one would expect people to be free to advocate and speak about matters of the public interest makes Judge Perry’s order especially suspect.”

Roots also takes issue with a part of Perry’s order that “purports to ban citizens from holding up signs with statements that might ‘tend’ to have some impact on jurors.”

He said this country has a long history of people holding up signs outside courthouses with the absolute intention of influencing judges, jurors and policy-makers.

“I’m quite certain that Martin Luther King and other courageous civil rights activists held signs up in front of courthouses which ‘tended’ to influence jurors and judges,” Roots wrote.

When asked directly during an interview if FIJA members would test Perry’s order, Roots said he could not say for sure, but the organization advises people, “Don’t get arrested.”

Click through for the full article including passages quoted from FIJA’s letter to Judge Perry, Governor Scott, and Attorney General Bondi. Please add your voice in the comments section insisting, firmly but politely, that this draconian and unlawful administrative order be rescinded!