Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification & Media Releases | 02 May 2013

-Deputy Park County Attorney Kathleen Carrick Seeks to Prevent Montana Jurors from Being Fully Informed


FIJA Logo with URL2 May 2013

Deputy Park County Attorney Kathleen Carrick
Seeks to Prevent Montana Jurors from Being Fully Informed

(406) 442-7800; aji@fija.org

Helena, MT—Deputy Park County Attorney Kathleen Carrick recently filed a Motion in Limine in a Park County, Montana court in the case of The State of Montana v. Joel Elmer Boniek that appears, among other things, to be aimed at preventing jurors from being fully informed of their right to refuse to enforce unjust or unjustly applied laws.

The motion asks the Court to exclude any evidence or references by witnesses or the defendant to jury nullification or challenging the Constitutionality of any law. It further seeks to gag private individuals exercising free speech protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article II, Section 7 of the Constitution of Montana by prohibiting distribution of any pamphlets at or around the court house on the day of the trial. Such a gag order would prohibit volunteers from distributing educational materials produced by the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) to inform everyone of the traditional, legal authority of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts of a case at hand and to rely on their consciences in coming to a just verdict.

It is unclear whether Carrick is unfamiliar with the long legal history of jurors’ right of nullification and of everyone’s right to use of the public sidewalk for the exercise of First Amendment rights, or whether she is willfully choosing to ignore laws she finds inconvenient. FIJA Executive Director Iloilo Jones asks for clarification from Carrick regarding her obvious legal gaffes. “As a government employee, what is her stance on protecting human rights? What is her stance on freedom of speech? Why is she afraid of jurors being fully informed?” asks Jones.

The right of jurors to judge both the facts of the case and the justice of the law as it is applied has been recognized repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court, as early as the 1794 case of Georgia v. Brailsford. In this case Chief Justice John Jay wrote in charging the jury that, “You have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy.” In its 1906 decision in the case of State v. Koch, the Montana Supreme Court also upheld jury nullification, ruling that, “It has nevertheless always been recognized in practice in this jurisdiction, that the jury has the power to disregard the law as declared and acquit the defendant, however convincing the evidence may be, and that the court or judge has no power to punish them for such conduct.” No U.S. Supreme Court or Montana Supreme Court ruling has ever overturned this role of the jury in protecting human rights.

Just as jury rights have been upheld at the highest levels of our court system, so too have our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press and public expression. Such rights are a key check on government, guaranteed to us by design in order to prevent it from overstepping the very Constitutional bounds that Carrick’s motion seeks to sweep under the rug. In the landmark Supreme Court ruling in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States, regarding government censorship by prior restraint, Justice Hugo Black clearly explained this essential function: “In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

FIJA National Coordinator Kirsten Tynan notes the telling nature of the very first line item of Carrick’s list, requesting that the defendant and witnesses be barred from discussing the Constitution. “Is it any surprise that Carrick’s motion requests prohibition of any mention of the failure of law to meet Constitutional muster given that she seems willing to cast it aside when it does not suit her?” asks Tynan.

In the event that this abusive motion results in an order from the court violating First Amendment rights, FIJA asks volunteers to exercise peaceful forbearance and not violate any such order. Those who choose to distribute literature should request clarification from the court as to the exact boundaries of the Constitution-Free Zone it intends to enforce and distribute literature everywhere else outside those boundaries. Those who are told by government agents that they cannot distribute FIJA literature in public places should contact the FIJA office at (406) 442-7800 or aji@fija.org with as many details as possible of such orders.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
FIJA is a non-profit association dedicated to educating the general public about their full rights, powers, and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts as trial jurors. The organization publishes and distributes educational literature and maintains a web site at FIJA.org to inform the general public of their Constitutional authority to protect human rights by refusing to enforce bad laws. FIJA encourages all jurors to consult their consciences when deliberating over a case, and to refuse to enforce any law that violates the human rights of the defendant.

Contact Information:
Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA)
(406) 442-7800
P.O. Box 5570
Helena, MT 59604-5570


Carrick’s Motion In Limine: State of Montana v. Joel Elmer Boniek Motion in Limine (.pdf)

Opinion of the Court: 3 U.S. 1 Georgia v. Brailsford (1794)

Concurrence (Black): 403 U.S. 713 New York Times Co. v. United States