Judge Halts Unconstitutional Ban on Juror Rights Education
Helena, MT—A federal court today issued an Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction, effectively gutting paragraph 1 of a recently issued administrative order against juror rights educators sharing information at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse Plaza in Denver, Colorado. Paragraph 1 still applies to the landscaping and gravel area of the plaza, but juror rights educators should be able to share FIJA brochures and verbal jury nullification information for general educational purposes with people in other areas of the plaza without fear of arrest.
FIJA joined with co-plaintiffs Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen of Occupy Denver in filing a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent further arrests for general juror rights educational outreach after juror rights educators Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt were arrested and charged with seven felony counts each of jury tampering for sharing jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in July.
Shortly thereafter, Judge Michael Martinez issued a heavy-handed order prohibiting a broad array of expressive activities in areas outside the Courthouse that constitute a traditional public forum for free speech, and the plaintiffs amended their motion to challenge this sweeping violation of the First Amendment as well.
“We are thrilled with this timely victory for both free speech and juror rights education,” says FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan. “Jury Rights Day commemorates the notable jury nullification case of William Penn, who was arrested for just the sort of peaceful, expressive activity that Judge Michael Martinez attempted to ban outside of Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. His acquittal by conscientious jurors—who would not obey even when a judge who ordered them to find Penn guilty proceeded to imprison them without food and water—was foundational to our legal ability to conduct juror rights outreach at this Courthouse still today. We look forward to celebrating Jury Rights Day at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver next week.”
FIJA will join with Occupy Denver in celebrating Jury Rights Day on Friday, September 4 on the plaza outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver. Each year since 1991, FIJA has rallied juror rights educators nationwide for educational outreach at courthouses and other appropriate locations on and around September 5, known as Jury Rights Day. Jury Rights Day commemorates the famous jury nullification case of the trial of William Penn and William Mead in 1670, which anchored in English common law and U.S. jurisprudence the right of the jury to deliver verdicts from conscience without being punished, as well as our rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion.
On this day of celebration and commemoration, juror educators will create many fully informed jurors who understand and are prepared to act on the knowledge that:
● Jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts.
● Jurors have the right to deliver a general verdict and are not required to explain the reason for their verdict.
● Jurors have the legal authority and the ethical duty to consult their consciences and to render a just verdict, even if it requires setting aside the law and voting Not Guilty when strictly enforcing the law would be unjust.
About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.
FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.
● Exhibit 1
● Exhibit 2
● Exhibit 3
● Motion for Preliminary Injunction
● Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction
● Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction