Fully Informed Jury Association

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Freedom Friday & Lunch Break for Liberty & Volunteer | 11 Mar 2011

Freedom Friday: Lunch Break for Liberty

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We know that some potential activists may be concerned about encounters with law enforcement while distributing FIJA literature near courthouses. Thousands of activists over the years have distributed FIJA literature near courthouses without any legal issues. We do not want FIJA activists getting arrested because it detracts from our mission which is to educate all potential jurors about their rights and responsibilities when serving on a jury.

This week’s Freedom Friday video features FreeKeene.com activists in Cheshire County, NH peacefully asserting their right to distribute FIJA literature while gracefully but assertively avoiding a legal situation.

Being jailed virtually end one’s ability to reach jurors for the duration of one’s imprisonment. Activists getting arrested have also been cited by many other potential activists as reasons they have been dissuaded from handing out literature. This is counterproductive to FIJA’s mission of educating as many potential jurors as possible. Therefore, FIJA’s policy is for activists to avoid getting arrested and instead challenge any violations of their right to distribute literature by other means.

FIJA does not provide legal advice, nor do we have resources for your legal defense should you get arrested. When we are distributing literature and are confronted by law enforcement, we do our best to defuse the situation peacefully rather than escalating the confrontation.

If told to leave the place we are handing out brochures, we may ask the officer, “Where am I allowed to stand?” If the officer will not point out a specific location, we may ask about a specific location. For example, “Do you have any objection if I stand (across the street, over there, etc.)?”

We may ask the officer “I’m willing to leave, but can you please tell me what law or statute you are enforcing because I believe it violates my First Amendment rights?” Before we leave, we may ask, “May I have your name and employee identification number? If I decide to challenge this, I may want to call you as a witness.”

For more of our observations on what has traditionally worked for our activists who distribute brochures near courthouses, we encourage you to read our flyer on Handing Out FIJA Literature Near Courthouses (pdf).

If you would like to recommend a jury-related video for Freedom Friday, let us know in the FIJA forum or by sending an e-mail to us at aji(at)fija.org/aie653l.

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