Fully Informed Jury Association

American Jury Institute

FIJA Calendar & Jury Nullification & Volunteer | 29 Aug 2014

-Utah Juror Educators Training in Salt Lake City


If you are in or near Salt Lake City this weekend, please join us for juror outreach training and organizing for Jury Rights Day outreach events.

Utah Juror Educators Training
Saturday, 30 August 2014, 3:00 pm Mountain
Salt Lake City Library
Conference Room A
210 E 400 S
Salt Lake City, UT

Kirsten Tynan of the FIJA will be conducting a training for volunteers who wish to do juror education outreach, with a special focus on how to do this at courthouses. Among the topics covered will be the difference between jury tampering and general educational outreach, as well as how to stay clearly on the general educational outreach side of the fence and avoid harassment from courthouse officials. We will be in Conference Room A, which is located beneath the library’s main foyer. The room is accessible using the foyer staircase (down the stairs and to your left) or you can use the elevator next to the library’s auditorium.

Click here to join the Facebook page for this event.

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification & Jury Rights Day | 27 Aug 2014

-FIJA Educates about Jury Nullification on Jury Rights Day


Fully Informed Jury Association Educates about Jury Nullification on Jury Rights Day

FIJA Logo with URL

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800

Helena, MT—Jurors’ rights educators around the country, in conjunction with the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), will celebrate Jury Rights Day on September 5 by educating their communities about jury nullification. Founded in 1991, Jury Rights Day is FIJA’s signature celebration, annually commemorating the conscientious acquittal of William Penn in 1670 that firmly grounded in common law jurors’ right to vote Not Guilty when a just verdict requires it, even if the law has technically been broken.

This year marks the 344th anniversary of the day when jurors refused to convict William Penn of breaking England’s Conventicle Act, despite clear evidence that he was in violation by publicly preaching a Quaker sermon. In refusing to convict Penn, the jurors refused to enforce what they knew to be unjust law, even when directed by the judge to return a Guilty verdict, and even when imprisoned for their act of conscience. Refusal to deliver a Guilty verdict when jurors are aware that the law has technically been broken is known as jury nullification.

“Today jurors still have the right and the responsibility to deliver general verdicts according to their consciences, and they cannot be punished for their verdicts,” said FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan. “Law exists for the purpose of safeguarding justice. Justice is not to be violated or repudiated in the interest of technically upholding an unjust law. When law and justice come into conflict, justice must prevail. The Fully Informed Jury Association teaches that jurors are empowered to uphold justice in such cases, by setting aside the law and voting Not Guilty when a just verdict requires it,” said Tynan.

Jurors who were punished for their verdict in Penn’s case appealed to a higher court for relief. Chief Justice John Vaughan ruled in their favor and reversed their penalties, firmly establishing in English common law, not only jurors’ right to conscientiously acquit, but also providing a firm foundation for freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. The founders of the United States purposely protected all of these rights when establishing the American legal system.

FIJA New Hampshire state contact Dick Marple receives a 2013 Jury Appreciation Day proclamation from Governor Maggie Wood Hassan.

FIJA New Hampshire state contact Dick Marple receives a 2013 Jury Appreciation Day proclamation from Governor Maggie Wood Hassan.

FIJA hosted the very first Jury Rights Day on September 5, 1991, rallying activists around the country to spend an hour handing out jury nullification literature in their local communities. The tradition continues this year with individuals and organizations hosting events across the country handing out educational materials everywhere from courthouses to county fairs, speaking to local groups, holding press conferences, etc.

Activists will also carry on the tradition of requesting Jury Rights Day proclamations from their local public servants. Past Jury Rights Days have been commemorated with proclamations from governors and other public officials in New Hampshire, Alaska, Connecticut, Iowa, and elsewhere.
On this day of celebration and commemoration, juror educators hope to 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 to do so.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
FIJA is a non-profit, educational association dedicated to informing the general public about their full rights, powers, and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts as trial jurors. The organization publishes and distributes educational literature, which anyone can receive by calling 1-800-TEL-JURY, 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.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 14 Aug 2014

-Questions for Legislative Candidates about Jury Nullification and Jurors’ Rights


GavelIconBecause yesterday’s set of questions for judicial candidates was so popular, we asked FIJA co-founder and board member Don Doig to please write up a similar list of suggested questions for legislative candidates. We share his response here for anyone who is interested in quizzing their local legislative candidates about jury nullification and related court issues. This is shared for educational purposes only; FIJA National do not endorse or oppose any political candidate or party.

Don Doig replies, with an introductory statement followed by questions:

The Rule of Law as understood by the Founders was in place to protect the rights of the people. Central to the Rule of Law is trial by jury, as traditionally understood. In an age when people feel that their rights are increasingly threatened, more people are looking to resurrect a fully empowered and fully informed jury as a safeguard of the rights of the people. For hundreds of years it was understood that trial by jury was in place to protect people against arbitrary power and abusive laws. In recent decades trial by jury has been under attack, as piece by piece, important powers and protections have been eroded. As a result, jurors are less able to extend a helping hand to people who need some protection from persecution.

Justice Goodloe said,

According to the doctrine of jury nullification, jurors have the inherent right to set aside the instructions of the judge and to reach a verdict of acquittal based upon their own consciences. As abolitionist lawyer Lysander Spooner explained the doctrine in Trial By Jury in 1852, page one:
“For more than six hundred years – that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 – there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.”

For a history by Justice William C. Goodloe, see Jury Nullification: Empowering the Jury as the Fourth Branch of Government (.doc).

“It is not only his right [the juror's], but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience even though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
-John Adams, first proponent of the Declaration of Independence and Second President, 1771
2 Life And Works of John Adams 253-255 (C.F. Adams ed. 1856)

As a candidate for the legislature, I respectfully ask if you would please answer a few questions pertinent to this abuse and denial of due process.

Would you support or sponsor legislation providing for the ability of the defense to explain to the jury that under our jury system jurors are judges of both law and fact? That they have the power to vote according to conscience, and vote “not guilty” if they believe justice requires it, regardless of the law and the evidence?

Would you support or sponsor legislation requiring judges to tell the jury that they have the power to vote according to conscience, and vote “not guilty” if they believe justice requires it, regardless of the law and the evidence?

Would you support or sponsor legislation requiring the voir dire jury selection process be limited to eliminating prospective jurors who have a direct personal conflict of interest in the case or who think they cannot be fair. In particular, questions pertaining to political or social or religious opinions, or a willingness to vote according to conscience should be prohibited.

Would you support or sponsor legislation prohibiting plea bargains? Require prosecutors to charge reasonably such that an informed jury might be expected to convict, and not multiply charges.

Would you support or sponsor legislation to prohibit motions in limine or other restrictions on what defendants may say, or what evidence they may present?

Would you support or sponsor legislation requiring the prosecution to provide any exculpatory evidence they may have to the defense?

Would you support or sponsor legislation that all jury trials be held with 12 jurors, and all crimes, even misdemeanors, get a jury trial if the defendant wishes?

Would you support or sponsor legislation requiring any forfeiture actions go before a jury as a criminal charge against an individual? (No more charges against property, which is not presumed to be innocent.)

Would you support or sponsor legislation requiring that all criminal trial jury verdicts be unanimous? (Particularly needed in Oregon and Louisiana, where trial by jury has been diminished by non-unanimous verdicts.)


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 13 Aug 2014

-Questions for Judicial Candidates about Jury Nullification and Jurors’ Rights


GavelIconWe recently had an inquiry from someone with 3 judges up for election in his area. He asked if we had any suggestions for hard-hitting questions to see if the candidates love liberty and the Constitution. FIJA co-founder and board member Don Doig provided the following response, which we share here for anyone else who is interested in quizzing their local candidates about jury nullification and related court issues. This is shared for educational purposes only; FIJA National do not endorse or oppose any political candidate or party.

Don Doig replies:

Here are some questions, prefaced by an introductory statement.

Justice Goodloe said,

According to the doctrine of jury nullification, jurors have the inherent right to set aside the instructions of the judge and to reach a verdict of acquittal based upon their own consciences. As abolitionist lawyer Lysander Spooner explained the doctrine in Trial By Jury in 1852, page one:
“For more than six hundred years – that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 – there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.”

For a history by Justice William C. Goodloe, see Jury Nullification: Empowering the Jury as the Fourth Branch of Government (.doc).

“It is not only his right [the juror's], but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience even though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
-John Adams, first proponent of the Declaration of Independence and Second President, 1771
2 Life And Works of John Adams 253-255 (C.F. Adams ed. 1856)

Do you agree that jurors have the right to vote their conscience?

Would you be willing to tell the jury that while you will explain to them what the law is, nevertheless they have the right to vote not guilty regardless of the evidence?

Would you be willing to allow the defense to argue to the jury that they may vote according to their conscience?

Would you be willing to allow the defense to argue against the merits of the law?

Should the defense be allowed to present whatever evidence they want to the jury?

Should the prosecutor be required to give the defense access to any exculpatory evidence?

Should the jury be told what sentence the defendant will face if convicted?

Will you or do you seek to eliminate jurors from the pool based on their understanding of jury nullification?

Will you or do you tell jurors that they must follow the law as you explain it?


Function of Juries & Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 06 Aug 2014

-Jury Trial for Philly Mom Prosecuted for Gun in New Jersey


IMG_1132cropIt appears that the case of Shaneen Allen, a Philadelphia woman arrested when she reportedly carried a firearm legally owned in Pennsylvania into New Jersey and was pulled over for a traffic violation, is headed toward trial. Ms. Allen is a mother of two who purchased a handgun for personal protection after being robbed twice. She holds a concealed carry permit that is honored in 30 other states outside of Pennsylvania. Neighboring New Jersey, however, turns out not to be one of those states.

Judge denies motion to dismiss case against Philly mom arrested for legal gun in NJ

A New Jersey judge denied a motion to dismiss charges Tuesday against a Philadelphia mother who mistakenly entered New Jersey, where she was stopped for a traffic violation and found in possession of a handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets.

Shaneen Allen, 27, who is legally permitted to carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania, was pulled over in New Jersey’s Atlantic County after making an unsafe lane change in the early morning hours of Oct. 1. She told the officer she had a .380 Berse Thunder handgun during the traffic stop.

Superior Court Judge Michael Donio also denied a motion to overturn a decision not to allow Allen to participate in a pretrial intervention program to avoid jail time.

Allen rejected a prosecutor’s offer to serve 3 1/2 years in prison, her attorney, Evan Nappen, told FoxNews.com.

“That’s exactly what should be the solution here,” Nappen said, referring to the intervention program. “So we’re looking forward to that jury trial.”

A trial date has been set for Oct. 6, said Nappen, who feels his client may find more leniency from jurors.

“I sure do, it’s an incredibly sympathetic case that shouldn’t have to go to trial,” he said. “But I’m confident that 12 ordinary people who understand the injustice here and will correct it.”

Read more about Shaneen Allen’s case here:
-‘Honest mistake’ leads to Philly mother facing three years on gun charge
-Philly Mom Facing Jail Time for Possessing Licensed Gun
-Shaneen Allen, Race, and Gun Control

This case sounds very much like the case of Jonathan Ryan, a Florida landscaper acquitted by a jury of gun charges in New York City, leveled against him after he errantly turned right on a red light in Manhattan. During the traffic stop, it came to light that he had mistakenly left a firearm, legally owned and registered in Florida, in his truck when he drove up from Florida to help his girlfriend move. Ryan faced 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted. Even though he acknowledged having the gun, he argued to the jury that he had put it in the truck more than two years ago and it was an honest mistake that he had forgotten it.

Read about Ryan’s case here:
-Florida Landscaper Acquitted of NYC Gun Charges

As bureaucratic regulations proliferate from state to state, it is more and more likely that peaceful people will find themselves in prosecutors’ crosshairs, being maliciously prosecuted for victimless offenses as they try to navigate the bureaucratic morass of firearms-related regulations and restrictions. While gun control advocates often argue that ignorance of the intricate legal web they have created is no excuse for making an honest mistake, even those who staunchly support strict gun controls are being caught up by the very same regulations that they advocated.

Consider the case of Dwayne Ferguson, a Buffalo, New York activist well-known locally for his efforts in pushing for passage of New York’s SAFE Act. This measure bumped carrying a gun on school grounds, which was already classified as a crime, from a misdemeanor to a felony. Ferguson was arrested on an elementary school campus, where he was found to be carrying a pistol that he legally owned. He says that he simply forgot he had the weapon on his person when he entered the gun-free zone where he mentors disadvantaged students.

Read about Ferguson’s case here:
-Gun Control Advocate Arrested for Gun Offense to Go Before a Jury

Allen was initially accepted into a pretrial program which would have allowed her to avoid felony charges and incarceration, but the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office reportedly put a stop to that option for her, instead choosing to make an example of her and prosecute her aggressively. Pine Brook resident Pete Sesnick points out the disturbing double standard and two-tiered system of “justice” administered by the Atlantic City Prosecutor’s office that used its prosecutorial discretion to allow a sports celebrity to avoid trial for charges of a violent crime:

LETTER: Prosecutor gave Ray Rice preferential treatment

When confronted with virtually irrefutable evidence that NFL star Ray Rice beat his then fiancée into unconsciousness in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino, Atlantic County Prosecutor James McClain, through his magnanimous tolerance and generosity, allowed Rice to enter a pretrial intervention program, thus avoiding jail time. And if Rice stays out of trouble for a period of time, he’ll have his record expunged. Darn kind and understanding of the prosecutor, but there’s a larger tragedy associated with the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident.

[Ms. Allen] was arrested in Atlantic County. And we have evidence that the Atlantic County Prosecutor is a kind, tolerant and generous man. After all, he allowed an NFL celebrity, guilty of domestic abuse, to enter the pretrial intervention program. Surely, he would extend the same courtesy to a young mother of two, who hadn’t committed an act of violence and had no criminal history.

Furthermore, the director of the PTI program agreed to admit Allen into the program. Well, it turns out that Prosecutor McClain is not as tolerant of non-celebrity single moms as he is of celebrity, NFL, domestic abusers. He will not allow Shaneen to enter PTI. McClain is apparently determined to send her to prison.

Allen’s attorney, Evan Nappen points out that if the prosecutor’s office won’t see reason and treat his client justly, jurors still have the opportunity to protect her through their legal authority of jury nullification.

Philadelphia mother whose legal gun got her arrested in NJ hopes for leniency

Allen purchased the gun for protection after being robbed twice in the past year, she said, adding that she never even fired it and feels somewhat snake-bitten by the entire ordeal.

“It’s definitely a freak thing,” she said. “I was trying to do a good thing and it turned out so bad — and just like that. I don’t know how to explain it, I really don’t.”

Allen reiterated that she immediately told the officer she had a gun in her 2007 Chevrolet sedan, as well as a concealed carry permit for neighboring Pennsylvania.

“The officer knew there was a gun there, she was completely honest and open,” her attorney, Evan Nappen, said. “There are no aggravating factors in this case; she’s a single mom of two, working in the medical field who was robbed twice and that’s what inspired her to get a gun license in the first place.”

Nappen said potential jurors could invoke jury nullification, a constitutional doctrine allowing juries to acquit defendants who are technically guilty, but don’t deserve to be punished. It can apply in all states, but attorneys are generally not permitted to introduce the concept to jurors.

FIJA does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but we do general educational outreach wherever we have volunteers willing and able to educate their communities. If anyone is interested in doing general educational outreach in the southern New Jersey area, such as hosting a Jury Rights Day event and other outreach, we are looking to put together a volunteer group to start a juror education campaign. Activists are already planning to be out pamphleting at the courthouse from 6-10 October. Please contact us at 406-442-7800, aji@fija.org, or on Facebook by messaging the New Jersey FIJA Facebook page.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 28 Jul 2014

-How to Make Sure What Happened to Aaron Swartz Doesn’t Happen Again


Jury BoxWe’ve previously discussed the death of activist Aaron Swartz and the malicious tactics by which he and others have been pressured to forfeit their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to trial by jury. So we greatly appreciate the following article written by David Segal educating even more people how fully informed jurors can make a difference to individuals and their communities.

How to Make Sure What Happened to Aaron Swartz Doesn’t Happen Again

[Aaron Swartz] fell prey to a criminal justice system that has recently prominently pursued, or sought to pursue, the prosecution of activists like Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, and Cecily MacMillan, as well as whistleblowers like Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden. And we mustn’t forget, of course, that it regularly commits to prison thousands upon thousands of people whose names don’t make headlines and aren’t carried hundreds of miles via IRC channels or Twitter, or on the still-potent winds of the Occupy network—and are disproportionately poor people and people of color. It is structural racism epitomized.

All of the above feeds a daunting, seemingly intractable problem: 2.3 million Americans are behind bars, but there is little sign of meaningful revision to the structures that have trapped them there. Yet we needn’t entrust our hopes for reform to risk-averse politicians who fear their constituents’ reactions and, sometimes of greater bearing, those of their underwriters in the private prison industry. We can take matters into our own hands, by engaging in conscientious jury nullification—and perhaps force a reorientation of the entire criminal justice system.

Earlier this month, as I sat on a panel following the Washington, DC premier of The Internet’s Own Boy, a questioner asked what single act an individual could undertake to help make sure what happened to Aaron never happens again.

I’ve heard that question posed what seems like hundreds of times in the year and a half since Aaron’s passing. There’s a natural desire to divine the germ of something constructive out of such seemingly senseless tragedy. But I’ve only now formulated what feels like a satisfying answer, one deeper than encouraging people to sign up for activist email alerts or call a member of Congress. (While these tactics can of course be essential in the right places and at the right times, they are determinative of political outcomes only when part of mass actions.)

Here it is: targeted jury nullification.

This is a well-written article, worth clicking through for the entire write up.


FIJA Calendar & Jury Nullification & Volunteer | 25 Jul 2014

-Learn About Jury Nullification in Spokane


Join The Fully Informed Jury Association and The Human Solution
on Saturday 2 August at 1:00 pm
in Conference Room 1A
at the Downtown Branch public library in Spokane, WA

At this presentation, which is free and open to the public, you will learn about jurors’ right of conscientious acquittal and how jury nullification can be used to protect peaceful people from unjust prosecutions in marijuana-related cases. Even though marijuana has largely been legalized in Washington, people are still being prosecuted for victimless, marijuana-related offenses. Jury nullification helped end alcohol prohibition in just thirteen years!

Included in the talk is a volunteer training session. We are looking to kick off a long-term juror education campaign in Spokane, so please join us!

Join the Facebook event page here.

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification & Media Releases | 23 Jul 2014

-Jury Nullification Billboard Educates Valley Residents of Jurors’ Secret Power


23 July 2014

Jury Nullification Billboard Debuts to Educate Valley Residents of Jurors’ Secret Power

FIJA Logo with URL
Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800

James Babb
(610) 574-1222

Phoenix, AZ—This week marks the start of an initial 8-week run of a billboard in Phoenix, Arizona at the Jefferson Street/1st Avenue Light Rail Station, designed to educate the community about jury nullification.

Also referred to as conscientious acquittal or juror veto, jury nullification is a traditional, legal authority of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts in any case they hear. Jurors can vote Not Guilty when they conscientiously believe a just verdict requires it, even if they believe the law has technically been broken.

“If you are selected for jury duty, the normal instinct is to find a way out of it. That is completely understandable, especially if you don’t understand the incredible opportunity you have as a juror to stop wrongful imprisonment and government tyranny,” said project facilitator James Babb.

Funded through crowd-sourced donations contributed by activists around the country and sponsored by Freedom’s Phoenix, who hosted the fundraising effort at FreedomsPhoenix.com, the billboard builds on the initial success of Babb’s efforts last fall that placed billboards in the Judiciary Square metro station in Washington, D.C. On October 29, 2013, The Washington Post reported that D.C. prosecutors were so upset by the educational billboards that they were asking judges to ensure jurors were not influenced by the information they provided.

FIJA-PhoenixTransit-2This effort is part of a nationwide educational campaign. Activists are currently working to place billboards in other major cities around the country such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and elsewhere.
Jurors around the world have had the right to conscientiously acquit via jury nullification for centuries. All jurors in the United States have this right still today, but many are completely unaware of it.

“The modern trend of keeping jurors in the dark about their full authority unfortunately has been encouraged by a series of court rulings enabling judges to refrain from informing or even to misinform jurors about their options,” said Kirsten Tynan, executive director of the Fully Informed Jury Association. “Jurors are not required to check their consciences at the courthouse door, but they will not hear this once they are inside. In fact, a prospective juror who, if asked during voir dire, will not agree to abandon their conscience and uphold law they find unjust or unjustly applied will almost certainly be excluded from the jury,” Tynan said.

Ernest Hancock of Freedom’s Phoenix explained the timeliness of this message in Phoenix. “Arizona has been a hotbed of FIJA activism since the early 1990’s,” said Hancock. “Ours was the first state to have a legislative body pass fully informed juror legislation. Continued public education has created a foundation from which to launch another wave of public awareness and to insert jury rights into the public debate,” he explained.

The initial billboard run will encompass Jury Rights Day, celebrated each year on September 5. Founded by the Fully Informed Jury Association in 1991, Jury Rights Day commemorates the famous case of jury nullification in 1670 in which English jurors refused a judge’s order to convict William Penn for publicly preaching the Quaker religion. Even though they were imprisoned for their verdict, several jurors in this case steadfastly maintained their refusal to convict.

By reversing their sentences, a higher court firmly established in English common law not only jurors’ right to conscientiously acquit, but also freedoms of speech and religion. The founders of the United States preserved all of these rights in the new government they designed. Americans enjoy them still today as part of the Constitutional system designed to keep government power in check.

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.

About Freedom’s Phoenix
Freedom’s Phoenix is a multi-media news and opinion platform from a voluntarist and libertarian perspective. The organization maintains a website at FreedomsPhoenix.com as a daily resource for current and relevant political news.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 09 Jul 2014

-Jury Nullification Educator’s Case Continues


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.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 08 Jul 2014

-Jury Nullification Can Protect against Unjust Sentencing


Fence_of_Prison-BPOJurors have the right and the power to conscientiously acquit through jury nullification for any reason they believe will deliver a just verdict. Sometimes they do this because they think the offense should not be illegal, but there are also other reasons they may feel moved to acquit even though a law has technically been broken. In this article, Molly Knefel discusses jury nullification as a tool by which jurors can protect defendants from sentences that are unjustly harsh compared to the severity of the offense.

Nullification: Jurors’ Secret Weapon Against Harsh Sentencing

On July 2, Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan was released from Rikers Island, completing a sentence that her jury never wanted her to serve. On May 19, that jury of twelve convicted McMillan of felony assault against police officer Grantley Bovell. The verdict came after a four-week trial, during which McMillan’s defense team argued that it was actually Bovell who assaulted McMillan, and that she had elbowed him as a reflexive response after he grabbed her breast. The trial carried symbolic weight because it was the last Occupy criminal case, one of the few Occupy-related felonies, and an incident of alleged police violence that many protesters felt characterized NYPD norms. Still, the jury returned a “guilty” verdict. As is typical, jurors had been instructed by the judge not to read or research any further details of the case on their own, including the punishment that McMillan would face if convicted.

After the conviction, members of the jury learned that McMillan faced two to seven years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines. An anonymous juror told The Guardian that “they felt bad,” and that “even a year in jail is ridiculous.” The juror added that he hadn’t been convinced of McMillan’s guilt, but gave in to his fellow jurors and, not expecting harsh sentencing, voted to convict. Nine of the twelve jurors petitioned Judge Ronald Zweibel for leniency and no incarceration. At that point, however, the power was out of their hands (Zweibel ended up sentencing McMillan to ninety days in jail and five years’ probation). Many of McMillan’s supporters expressed frustration that the jurors who had held Cecily’s freedom in their hands didn’t take the consequences of the trial seriously until after it was over.

Cecily McMillan’s case is one of many cases where jurors had the power to protect a defendant from a harsh sentence, but for one reason or another forfeited it and left the defendant at the mercy of an unmerciful judge, or an unmerciful system with mandatory sentencing rules. Often jurors come forward afterward, distraught or angry over the injustice they were railroaded into aiding and abetting.

We previously reported on the case of Antwuan Ball, convicted of a single drug transaction worth about $600. In that same trial, his jury unanimously acquitted him of the prosecution’s long laundry list of charges related to racketeering, conspiracy, and even a murder indictment, but left the door open for the judge to sentence harshly based on this single conviction for a totally victimless offense. Based on the conduct of which the jury outright acquitted Ball, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts sentenced him to MORE THAN 18 YEARS IN PRISON for a single transaction involving a half ounce of cocaine. After helping deliver the verdict, juror Jim Caron learned that prosecutors were, in fact, seeking 40 years in prison for this single conviction, along with harsh sentences for Ball’s co-defendants who were likewise convicted of instances of selling small amounts of drugs. He wrote to the judge decrying the blatant circumvention of the jury’s Not Guilty verdicts in these cases:

I write because I recently saw a press release from the US Attorney’s Office which states that Gregory Bell and Joseph Jones were sentenced to 16 years and 15 years, respectively, “for their roles in this case”. It also states that Antwuan Ball, Desmond Thurston, and David Wilson “each face up to 40 years imprisonment for the narcotics crimes for which they were convicted.”

Can this be true? We as a jury found these individuals guilty of somewhere around 20 instances of selling drugs, but as I remember it, most of these were very small amounts. And this was over a period of nearly 10 years. Now I’m not a lawyer, but after 30 years of living in the District, I believe people selling small amounts of crack on the street usually end up with probation or only a year or two in prison if they have a previous offense.

And then there is the case of Richard Paey, a chronic pain patient, charged with and convicted of 15 counts of drug trafficking, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, and possession of a controlled substance due to the large volume of medication he sought for his extreme, debilitating pain. While in prison, doctors supplied him with painkillers for his own personal use in excess of what he was accused of having for so-called trafficking purposes.

According to juror Dwayne Hillis however, had the jury been aware that prison time was on the table, they never would have reached a consensus to convict:

They said he would get treatment. If I would have known he wasn’t going to get help I would still be in that room fighting for what I thought was right.

Hillis regretted his decision afterward, and said that he wanted to vote Not Guilty, but relented under pressure during deliberations after being assured by the jury foreman that Paey would serve no prison time. This was not true. In fact, the charges on which the jury convicted Paey triggered a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. Paey was eventually given a full pardon by then Florida governor Charlie Crist in September of 2007, after serving nearly four years in prison, including what seems to be punitive time in solitary confinement for an interview he gave that displeased prison officials. During the entire 30 days, Paey was subjected to sleep deprivation with the lights on the entire time, and corrections officers banging on his cell door nearly hourly to keep him awake.

All of these cases share two things in common:
1. The jurors were kept unaware of the potential punishment to which they would be subjecting the defendant.
2. In spite of that, all of the jurors made these egregiously unjust punishments possible by voting to convict, in spite of not knowing all of the relevant information in the case.

This past fall, the ACLU released its report “A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses”, documenting thousands of cases across the country of individuals serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, mostly for nonviolent drug offenses:

Life in prison without a chance of parole is, short of execution, the harshest imaginable punishment. Life without parole (LWOP) is permanent removal from society with no chance of reentry, no hope of freedom. One should expect the American criminal justice system to condemn someone to die in prison only for the most serious offenses.

Yet across the country, thousands of people are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for nonviolent crimes as petty as siphoning gasoline from an 18-wheeler, shoplifting three belts, breaking into a parked car and stealing a woman’s bagged lunch, or possessing a bottle cap smeared with heroin residue. In their cruelty and harshness, these sentences defy common sense. They are grotesquely out of proportion to the conduct they seek to punish.

Using data obtained from the Bureau of Prisons and state Departments of Corrections, the ACLU calculates that as of 2012, there were 3,278 prisoners serving LWOP for nonviolent drug and property crimes in the federal system and in nine states that provided such statistics (there may well be more such prisoners in other states). About 79 percent of these 3,278 prisoners are serving LWOP for nonviolent drug crimes. Nearly two-thirds of prisoners serving LWOP for nonviolent offenses nationwide are in the federal system; of these, 96 percent are serving LWOP for drug crimes. More than 18 percent of federal prisoners surveyed by the ACLU are serving LWOP for their first offenses.

That these kinds of sentences can happen so frequently reflects a legal system bent not only on conviction, but on vindictive punishment. Jurors have the power and the responsibility to protect our communities from such grotesquely unjust sentences.

As a juror, if you do not believe that the punishment is appropriate for the crime, or if you do not have access to the relevant information about what the punishment is for a an offense, you have the right to conscientiously acquit by exercising your jury nullification authority. A judge may tell you that you are not to concern yourself with the penalty phase of the case and that you are only to decide whether or not the law was broken, but you should not cede your conscience when your vote can open the door for all manner of unconscionable mandatory minimums or vindictively imposed punishments that circumvent the intent of the jury, and for which defendants have little or no recourse.


FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 02 Jul 2014

-Lamb Seeks Dismissal of Felony Charge for Jury Nullification Posting on Facebook


Jury BoxWe brought you news several months ago of so-called jury tampering accusations leveled against Luke Lamb, for allegedly sharing on Facebook a link to the FIJA website and making comments about jury nullification to someone who apparently requested the information.

Patrick A. Watts, an attorney for Lamb with the Sturycz Watts law firm, issued a press release back in March detailing the context of the charge, including what he says are political motivations behind the felony charge of unlawful communication with a juror. He noted, among other things, that the complaint against lamb was filed by the government less than two weeks before primary voting for Sheriff’s Candidate in Greene County, for which Mr. Lamb was running unopposed, and that Lamb had beeb pulled over by White Hall, Illinois police minutes after giving a speech at the one and only Greene County political candidate convention for his party this year.

Attorney Nathan Sturycz, also of the Sturycz Watts law firm, alerts us that a Motion to Reconsider has been made to the court regarding its 18 June 2014 finding of probably cause and denial of the defendant’s prior Motion to Dismiss. Here is the Motion to Reconsider (.pdf), which was filed on 23 June 2014. Yesterday, the Riverfront Times reported that Lamb’s next hearing in court would take place today, regarding this request for reconsideration.

It is, of course, very disadvantageous to government officials for jurors to be fully informed about their right to conscientiously acquit through jury nullification. This knowledge makes it harder to secure quick and easy convictions, particularly when the law is inherently unjust, when it is being unjustly applied, when the punishment is unjustly harsh for the offense committed, etc. All juror educators should be aware that, while uncommon, gratuitous accusations of “jury tampering” are one tactic that politically and otherwise biased government officials sometimes use against us. While FIJA does not give legal advice nor do we fund legal defenses, we do offer free training to activists to help them assess their own risks and implement their own plans to mitigate them so they can do jury nullification outreach with minimal risk to themselves. We also periodically review and update our outreach guidelines (.pdf), which we recommend all juror educators read and review from time to time.


FIJA Calendar & Jury Nullification | 19 Jun 2014

-FIJA Panel on Jury Nullification at Dudley Branch Library in Roxbury, MA


FIJA Logo with URLJurors Doing Justice: How to Protect Civil Liberties and Promote Social Justice through Conscientious Acquittal

Dudley Branch Library
65 Warren St.
Roxbury, MA
Thursday, 19 June at 6:00 pm

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections reports that over the last decade its prison population increased by 9%. More than eight black people and more than six Hispanic people are incarcerated for each white person in prion or jail in Massachusetts, a state whose population is more than 80% white. Over a third of all people incarcerated by the state are there for non-violent offenses, with more than 90% serving a sentence of greater than three years. A majority of incarcerated drug offenders are serving sentences related to mandatory minimum sentencing schemes. Years after officials learned of massive misconduct in the state’s Hinton drug lab that helped implicate tens of thousands of defendants, it is still unclear how many defendants are wrongly imprisoned as a result of that criminal misconduct.

Massachusetts is on an unconscionable trajectory of irreparably damaging families and communities, wasting tax dollars, perpetrating grave social injustices, and assaulting individual liberties. In this panel discussion, we will go into detail about jurors’ right of conscientious acquittal through jury nullification and its use as a tool to push back against the prison state in Massachusetts.

Kirsten Tynan is the Executive Director of the Fully Informed Jury Association. She will give a primer on your right as a juror to conscientiously acquit through jury nullification when a just verdict requires it, and how to maximize your likelihood of having the chance to exercise it. Jehu Eaves was one of the organizers of the community response to the brutal Greensboro Massacre in 1979. He witnessed in a very personal way the gross inadequacy of the legal system in restoring justice in trials decided by all-white juries. Later in life, he had the opportunity to serve on a jury that ended up acquitting a defendant, gaining firsthand insight into the workings of the jury system. He will discuss how his view of jury nullification has evolved over the years and how conscientious acquittal can be used in pursuit of social justice.


FIJA Calendar & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 05 Jun 2014

-FIJA to Educate about Jury Nullification at FREE HER Rally


FIJA Logo with URLYesterday, Families for Justice as Healing issued the below press release on the upcoming FREE HER Rally to be held at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. from 10 am—2 pm on Saturday, 21 June 2014. People will be coming from across the United States to encourage President Obama to commute the sentences of those in the federal system who have applied under his recently announced clemency initiative. FIJA will be one of many organizations represented at the rally. We will be educating everyone about our OWN powers of pardon by conscientious acquittal via jury nullification when we have the opportunity to serve on a jury. If you would like to help distribute jury nullification information at this event, please contact us in the office at (406) 442-7800 or by email to aji@fija.org so that we can coordinate with you ahead of the event.

Families for Justice as Healing Rallies in Washington, D.C. to End Mass Incarceration

Boston, MA (PRWEB) June 04, 2014

Families for Justice as Healing is mobilizing concerned individuals and organizations from across the country to converge on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in support of an end to mass incarceration. The FREE HER Rally will assemble at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall, Independence Avenue & 15th, on Saturday, June 21, 2014 from 10:00 am-2:00 pm.

Women, families and supporters will come together from across the nation, uniting to speak with one voice, to raise awareness of the devastating impact of overly harsh drug sentencing policies and the direct impact on communities of mass incarceration and the war on drugs. The objectives of the rally are:
1. To raise awareness of the alarming increase in the rate of incarceration of women in the United States and its impact on our children and communities.
2. To demand an end to voter disenfranchisement for people with felony convictions and to encourage the passing of the Smarter Sentencing Act.
3. To ask President Obama to commute the sentences of women and men in the federal system who have applied for commutations.

“On April 23, 2014, the Justice Department announced President Obama’s intention to commute the sentences of eligible people serving federal non-violent sentences,” says Andrea James, founder and director of Families for Justice as Healing. “Now is more important than ever to stand together and join our voices as one to encourage the President to commute the sentences of women serving non-violent sentences. Allow them to return to their children and communities.”

Between 1980 and 2010, the number of women in prison increased by 646% overall, with a disproportionate impact on women of color. Black women are incarcerated at nearly 3 times the rate of white women, and Hispanic women are incarcerated at 1.6 times the rate of white women. Most incarcerated women are imprisoned for non-violent drug and property crimes, with many women charged and convicted of conspiracy and other related counts, even though they had minimal or no involvement in the offenses that led to their arrests.

Incarcerated women have unique health and safety issues, which prisons are often unprepared to address appropriately, according to Families for Justice as Healing. Women swept into the prison system disproportionately suffer from abuse and sexual violence. They are particularly vulnerable to being re-traumatized by strip searches, solitary confinement, and staff sexual misconduct. Prisons and jails also often fail to handle reproductive needs appropriately, providing inadequate prenatal and abortion care. Pregnant women are often subjected to dangerous, demeaning, and unnecessary shackling during labor and delivery.

Locally hosted by the D.C. Office of Returning Citizen Affairs, the rally will include organizations, speakers, and individual participants from around the country. Other participating organizations include Alpha Kappa Alpha, ACLU of Washington, D.C., Boston Feminists for Liberation, Free Marissa Alexander Movement, the Fully Informed Jury Association, Institute of the Black World, Mommie Activist, Mothers in Charge, Pittsburgh Northside Residents Coalition, and Women Who Never Give Up.

After the June rally, the FREE HER campaign will continue on, with participants calling, emailing and sending postcards to encourage the President and to raise awareness among everyday people of the need to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration of women.

About Families for Justice as Healing:
Families for Justice as Healing is a criminal justice reform, legislative advocacy organization. At Families for Justice as Healing, we organize formerly incarcerated women to join the movement toward creating community wellness alternatives to incarceration, to heal and rebuild families and communities. Our membership advocates a shift away from expansion of the prison system and toward creation of community wellness alternatives to incarceration. We seek public health alternatives to current U.S. drug policies and legislation that focus on criminalization, the war on drugs and mass incarceration.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification & Myths and Misconceptions | 02 Jun 2014

-Jury Myths and Misconceptions: Is It ‘Jury Tampering’ to Share Jury Nullification Literature?


San Diego jury nullification outreachThis is part of a series of responses to myths, misconceptions, and misstatements about jury issues, including jury nullification and juror education outreach. There are no lawyers on FIJA’s staff or board of directors, and FIJA does not provide legal advice. These observations are provided for educational purposes and do not in any way constitute legal advice.

Q: Is it illegal to share jury nullification literature? For example, does it constitute “jury tampering”?
A: No, when juror education outreach is done properly, it is neither illegal, nor jury tampering.

Many people seem to be confused about the legality of the kind of outreach that FIJA activists and others around the country do to fully inform everyone of the traditional, legal role of jurors, including their right of jury nullification. Sometimes this is because people who have been handing out jury nullification literature have been arrested. Most recently, we have heard tell that there may be someone who is discouraging marijuana activists from discussing and publicizing this very powerful, protective tool at jurors’ disposal, saying that it is illegal or jury tampering to discuss it, or something along those lines. When many peaceful defendants’ last resort for a just verdict in their trials is jury nullification, it is very important not to let this kind of errant information discourage activists from fully informing our communities of jurors’ full authority in delivering just verdicts. Now seems a critical moment to shed some light on this topic so that activists feel confident in exercising their First Amendment rights in support of all of our Sixth Amendment rights.

First off, what is jury tampering? There are various legal prohibitions against jury tampering, so let’s just look at the federal level to get the general idea. 18 U.S.C. 1503 covers influencing jurors generally. It discusses threatening or actually injuring jurors in an attempt to influence the outcome of a specific case. 18 U.S.C. 1504 covers influencing jurors in writing. It covers attempting in writing to sway the decision of a juror in a particular case one way or the other. If you are purposely trying to sway a juror who is actively serving on a case to vote either Guilty or Not Guilty in a specific case for which they are a juror, you may be engaged in jury tampering.

FIJA outreach, however, is different. We do not advocate for or against a particular verdict in any case in progress, but rather we do general juror education outreach. Our brochures that we use for sidewalk outreach do not mention any case in progress, and our guidelines specifically advise against mixing case advocacy with general juror education efforts:

FIJA activists should make it clear that they are only passing out information of general interest to all citizens, and are not trying to influence any particular case. No case-specific literature should be distributed with FIJA literature to anyone who might be a prospective juror.

In the most recent case we’re aware of that involved general juror education outreach with FIJA literature being met with jury tampering charges, the case against the defendant was dismissed by the judge, who ruled that:

The Court’s holding merely maintains the existing balance that federal courts have found between freedom of speech and the administration of justice. Attempts to tamper with a jury in order to influence the outcome of a trial or a grand jury proceeding are still clearly prohibited under 18 U.S.C. § 1503 and 18 U.S.C. § 1504. Efforts to distribute leaflets to jurors in the immediate vicinity of courthouses may still be sanctioned through reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions such as those promulgated pursuant to 40 U.S.C. § 1315 and 41 C.F.R. § 102-74.415(c). The Court declines to stretch the interpretation of the existing statute prohibiting communications with a juror in order to cover speech that is not meant to influence the actions of a juror with regard to a point in dispute before that juror or the outcome of a specific case before that juror.
For the foregoing reasons, the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the Indictment is GRANTED. The Defendant’s other motions are now moot and are dismissed.

If there is a case of interest to you personally, we recommend that you do not just suddenly show up the day of the trial and disappear once it is over. Rather, consider establishing a presence at least two weeks prior to a particular jury trial, and continue at least a week after. This makes you a “part of the landscape” and keeps you from being associated with a specific case. (Better yet, establish an ongoing juror outreach effort in your area as activists have done in California, Florida, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.)

We also recommend the following to juror education activists doing outreach near courthouses:
1. Stick to the public sidewalk in front of the courthouse. You are more likely to have an unpleasant encounter with courthouse officials if you attempt to distribute literature inside the courthouse.

2. Offer literature to everyone without regard to who they are and do not try to single out jurors in any way. We do general educational outreach not only to avoid the mistaken impression that anything we do is jury tampering, but also because it is a more effective educational strategy. Most of the people you encounter could one day be called to serve as a juror. Even those who aren’t eligible may pass along our literature to others. We get calls in the office regularly from people who have been handed our literature by someone else, picked it up in an office waiting room where it was left by someone else, etc. Our mission is to fully inform everyone of the juror’s traditional, legal authority to refuse to enforce the law when it would be unjust to do so, and that is best served by casting a wide net.

3. Go the extra mile to be friendly and courteous, and to avoid being perceived as belligerent, profane, harassing or a nuisance.
Earlier this year, about five or six FIJA activists were canvassing the downtown Bellingham, Washington area, including the Whatcom County Courthouse, when some of us had an encounter with a courthouse official. He came out because apparently someone had reported our outreach, and indeed, had exaggerated it FAR out of proportion to what we were doing. The official was surprised to discover only two of our activists in front of a very large courthouse entrance. The others were spread out at the library, city hall, and the post office. He had been under the impression from what had been reported that there were hundreds of us blocking the sidewalk and entrance such that people couldn’t get through. Upon seeing the situation was not at all what had been represented to him, though, he simply had a friendly chat with our activists cautioning us not to block the way into or out of the courthouse and not to harass or badger anyone, which is precisely how we were already behaving.

Behaving in an assertive but still friendly and non-belligerent manner helped our activists get tacit acknowledgement from the courthouse staff that we had the right to be there and were not doing anything wrong. They let us continue our work with no further encounters since. This has helped us maintain our ability to return and continue our efforts at this location without being sidetracked from the mission of educating people about jurors’ rights by having to defend our First Amendment rights.

4. If asked by courthouse officials to leave, exercise peaceful forbearance and challenge the request through civil processes rather than getting arrested. This does not mean forfeiting your First Amendment rights, but rather acting strategically to preserve your ability as well as other activists’ willingness and ability to exercise them in the future. There are other and better means by which to challenge these requests than to get arrested. For example, with a little bit of communication with a courthouse, a peaceful but assertive FIJA activist was able to get this memo issued by the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Marion County specifically clarifying to all courthouse officials that it is our First Amendment right to hand out FIJA literature and that we are allowed to do so.

There are also civil legal processes that are much more advantageous and likely to succeed than being arrested, jailed, and dragged through the criminal court system for pushing back against these First Amendment encroachments. If you are asked to leave, as you magnanimously agree to temporarily suspend your efforts until the matter is sorted out, you may wish to gather pertinent information that will assist you in your efforts to assert your right to do juror education outreach. For example, you can ask some questions as you comply with the request, such as “I’m going to comply with your request, but isn’t it my First Amendment right to distribute this information?” Or you may say, “I’m going to leave, but I would first like to get your name and contact information so that I may call you as a witness if I decide to challenge this order. Do you have a business card?” You may also ask, “Where may I stand to distribute brochures?” If the person harassing you does not recommend another location, you may identify another location and ask “May I distribute literature in that location?” It puts you on a different footing if an official has specifically agreed that you may conduct outreach in a particular location.

When an individual gets arrested, no matter how well-meaning they were in their efforts, that is counterproductive to effective juror education outreach. On the rare occasions when a couple of people have gotten arrested, we have experienced fallout of that for years into the future with other activists feeling they do not want to risk doing sidewalk activism for fear of getting arrested. Often that damage cannot be repaired by explaining how following our guidelines make this a minimally risky activity. Furthermore, when uninformed members of the general public see people getting arrested for informing others about jury nullification, they often get a negative impression about jury nullification itself, thinking that it is somehow illegal or unethical or otherwise a concept that they do not want to learn more about or use when they have the opportunity.

5. Be meticulous in following the law and also administrative orders from judges in the courthouse. On the very rare occasions when someone gets cited or arrested in conjunction with their juror education outreach efforts, it is usually for something incidental going on rather than directly for juror education since most courthouse officials recognize that jury tampering charges are not valid for activism done according to FIJA guidelines, and if the case goes before a jury, the jury will be fully informed about their right to nullify because of the nature of the case and evidence (such as FIJA literature). So be sure you are not committing any offenses that make it easy for officials to harass you such as having unpaid parking tickets, jaywalking, committing driving violations, etc. This will minimize the options law enforcement officers have for bullying you.

We have seen a couple of activists arrested for allegedly violating orders in effect from a chief administrative judge in a courthouse. If you violate a judge’s order, you are not likely to be charged with jury tampering, which would probably be eligible for a jury trial, but rather with contempt of court with the judge who charged you also serving as your “jury” and sentencer. Your odds of prevailing under such circumstances are obviously very low and will likely necessitate an appeal. By the time that happens, you may have already served out your entire sentence. This legal theater is based on a script that judges and law enforcement are very expert at performing, and you are at a distinct disadvantage on this stage.

This is why we recommend pursuing a civil challenge to such orders rather than getting arrested and endangering yourself and jeopardizing the ability for anyone to do activism in that location for years to come. A civil challenge to a judge’s order can at the very least involve the order being reviewed by a second judge, rather than the criminal scenario where the judge adjudicates his own order. If a civil challenge to an illegal administrative order works, great! Problem solved. If the administrative challenge does not get the order removed and you really want to get arrested, you can still do that. But if you go the criminal route first, odds are good that a civil challenge by you or anyone else who appears to be associated with you will not be taken seriously by the court as it appears that a party to the challenge is acting in bad faith.

In summary, when done properly, informing others about jury nullification, even in close proximity to a courthouse, is generally not illegal and does not constitute jury tampering. FIJA activists have done this regularly nationwide, for many years, coming out en masse every 5 September to celebrate Jury Rights Day by distributing FIJA brochures on jury nullification at courthouses across the country. When following FIJA guidelines, the chances of being arrested or charged are vanishingly small. Our guidelines include extra precautions for safely dealing with courthouse officials who do not properly understand the bounds of their authority. FIJA does not want anyone getting arrested. We are happy to provide free training to minimize this very small risk and work with you to develop a local strategy tailored for juror education outreach in your community. You may contact us in the office at (406) 442-7800 or by email to aji@fija.org to discuss how we can set up a training and strategy session specifically tailored for your group. We are not a legal advocacy organization, we do not have lawyers on staff, and we do not defend or fund the defense of anyone who gets arrested.


FIJA Calendar & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 02 Jun 2014

-The Power of Jury Nullification at the Global Freedom Summit


FIJA Logo with URL

Kirsten Tynan of the Fully Informed Jury Association will speak on
The Power of Jury Nullification: The Independent Juror’s Role in Limiting Government and Protecting Our Freedoms
at the online Global Freedom Summit
this Friday, 6 June 2014 at 9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific.
There is a small fee to attend this summit. We will be making the FIJA talk available online after the event for those who are unable to attend.


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