Fully Informed Jury Association

American Jury Institute

Jury Nullification | 20 Apr 2012

Jury Statute Not Violated by Protester, Judge Rules

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Jury Statute Not Violated by Protester, Judge Rules

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.

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