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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 09 Jul 2014

-Jury Nullification Educator’s Case Continues

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Jury BoxWe have an update on the Luke Lamb case, which had an 18 June 2014 hearing for the defendant’s Motion to Reconsider his Motion to Dismiss. Lamb is being pursued by Greene County, Illinois officials for alleged unlawful communication with a juror, but his attorney says the charge is a politically-motivated tactic wielded against Lamb who is currently running for Sheriff in Greene County.

Lamb’s attorney previously filed a Motion to Dismiss the charge against his client, and it was denied. He then filed a Motion to Reconsider the previous motion, which was heard on 18 June. This most recent motion was also denied.

A post too far?

Watts, in his May 8 motion to dismiss, says the charge against Lamb fails to allege he intended to influence a juror regarding a specific manner and that because he wasn’t aware of the case being discussed Lamb could not have influenced its decision.

“To find that general advocacy in a public forum about the jury process to a juror by a political candidate, not directed with knowledge toward a specific set of facts, issues and parties, is a violation of the statue, would lead to the absurd conclusion that political demonstrations outside a courthouse, or even outside of the town where the court is located which touch upon the subject matter of specific cases occurring in the court and which are directed to jurors would lead to violations of this statute,” he wrote. “Under the state’s interpretation of the statute, if Mothers Against Drunk Drivers members were sitting at home writing on a juror’s public Facebook wall to “convict drunk drivers!” with no knowledge of the particular case, or whether that juror was even hearing a DUI charge … a violation of the statute would occur.”

In a story that ran in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier and the Telegraph shortly after the charge was filed, Watts said, “Lamb made the first comment in jest” and that the wording on the subsequent post demonstrated “that he was leaving any decision about the individual case up to the juror.”

Watts also challenged the timing of the charge, because Lamb is running against McMillen in the November election as a “constitutional sheriff’s candidate,” and contends Lamb is being targeted because of his past outspoken questioning of authority.

From the article, it appears that the judge in the case is attempting to draw some lines in the sand, albeit confused ones, as to where he thinks general jury nullification education is and is not lawful:

Mark Boston, the juror who posted about his jury duty selection, has told the court he was nowhere near the courthouse when he read Lamb’s online comments. He also said the post had nothing to do with the decision he and other jurors reached in the case.

That, Watts maintains, makes this a matter of someone being prosecuted for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.

But the court disagreed, saying the constitution did not protect Lamb’s Facebook speech “because that speech was made into the courthouse to a juror, as opposed to outside of the courthouse.”

Watts challenged that in his June 23 motion to reconsider, saying Boston was about 20 miles away from the courthouse and at his home when the exchange took place. Because Boston’s cellphone was turned off while he was in the courthouse, “Lamb’s communications for which he was charged occurred exclusively during times when Boston was approximately 20 miles from the courthouse,” the motion to reconsider read.

Lamb’s next court date is set for October, and at this time he is reportedly seeking a jury trial.

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