Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification | 08 Nov 2013

-Former Prosecutor to Jurors: Jury Nullification!


DCMetroAdAnother great interview with Professor Paul Butler, who has personal experience with Washington, D.C.’s long history of jury nullification. In discussing jury nullification with The Nation, Butler cites it as one of the reasons we’re seeing a shift against criminalization of marijuana.

Former Prosecutor to Jurors: Nullify!

LS: How did you arrive at jury nullification as a tactic for fighting the drug war?

PB: I learned jury nullification from the jurors of the District of Columbia. It was commonplace that if you had a young, black defendant charged with drug possession, DC jurors were not going to send them to jail. They didn’t want to send another black man to jail. When senior prosecutors first told us rookies about this, they would roll their eyes in exasperation. Like, here we are trying to improve their city, and they don’t have the sense to lock up all these cretins. (In the prosecutor’s office, that’s what we called the defendants: “cretins” and “douche bags.”) When I left the prosecutor’s office and started to teach, it was the thing I was the most interested in studying. From a scholarly perspective, I found that it’s a proud part of our constitutional tradition, that it’s perfectly legal and indeed was embraced by the framers as a way to protect people from too powerful law enforcement and too powerful prosecutors. It says that people from the community, not the government, should have the ultimate authority over what happens to a criminal defendant.

Click through for the entire article.


Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 08 Nov 2013

-Jury Nullification: A Tool for Advancing Gun Rights?


A jury deadlocked, reportedly with a single holdout juror maintaining a Not Guilty vote, in the case of Army Master Sgt. Christopher “C.J.” Grisham, charged with interfering with the duties of a Temple police officer who attempted to take his legally carried weapon from him. Dean Weingarten argues in this article that juror education is a ripe field for Second Amendment supporters, noting that jury nullification is a peaceful way to prevent injustice.

Jury Nullification: A Tool for Advancing Gun Rights?

The recent mistrial in the case of U.S. Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham shows the lack of education of the Bell County jurors. The mistrial occurred because only one juror of the six understood his rights and responsibilities as a juror. Initially, according to jury member L.J. Cotterill, “we all agreed that the charge itself and the case itself was garbage. This entire matter should have been resolved by two grown men acting like grown men apologizing for their part in a bad situation and buying each other a beer and then going to a range together.” The problem was that the jury didn’t know their rights and power to find “not guilty” if justice demanded it.

Click through for the entire article.

According to one juror, the jury was instructed only to determine whether or not the defendant committed certain actions that he was charged with and not whether or not there were mitigating circumstances that justified those actions. Had they been allowed to consider mitigating circumstances, says juror Cotterill, they would have delivered a Not Guilty verdict in two minutes and that the charge was garbage. He says that even though one juror held out and maintained a Not Guilty verdict, everyone agreed that the actions had taken place. This description points to a possible jury nullification vote on the part of the holdout juror.

Here is the video of the interview with juror Cotterill.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 08 Nov 2013

-Jury Nullification Should Be Arguable Directly to Jury


Jury BoxCriminal defense and civil rights lawyer Norm Pattis argues that jury nullification is an important defense that ought to be allowed openly, especially in cases in which people are being prosecuted for telling the truth. He compares modern day whistleblower Ed Snowden with John Peter Zenger who was prosecuted in colonial New York for publishing unflattering truths about the royal governor.

Government spying looks like piracy

It is a sorry day when folks are prosecuted for telling the truth, especially when that truth proves that the government lies, and its agents then seek to justify those lies as good for us. How are we ordinary folks to distinguish emperors from pirates?

In recent weeks, there have been calls to create a public-interest defense to criminal charges lodged against those who tell us the truth in violation of the laws governing our new, and behemoth, national security state. If permitted, Edward Snowden could defend against charges he disclosed the government’s secrets by claiming he did so in the public interest, in order to let us know what its government was doing.

Such a defense would be helpful, of course, but it is not enough. Jurors ought to be free to nullify the law when they believe it has been misapplied, and lawyers ought to be free to argue nullification, taking their case directly to the people in the jury box.

Everyone should understand that jurors in EVERY courtroom in America ALREADY have the power to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires setting aside the law. Simply vote Not Guilty. Jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts.


FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 08 Nov 2013

-Nullification by Jury


DCMetroAdThis editorial in The Washington Times mentions the billboard ads in the Washington, D.C. metro. It gets some information wrong, but argues in favor of jury nullification as the last line of defense against unjust laws, citing numerous cases of people being arrested for minor offenses.

EDITORIAL: Nullification by jury

Under the American justice system, 13 judges sit in judgment of defendants. One presides in a black robe, and the other 12 sit in the jury box. “The 12 good men and true” (now including women) are not bound by the law or the judge’s instructions to convict a defendant; jurors are free to make up their own minds and act accordingly. This is usually the last line of defense for someone caught in the toils of an unjust law or unfair trial.

Note that in the case of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, juries did not protect slaves by refusing to convict them. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 outright denied alleged fugitives the right to trial by jury. How juries actually nullified the Fugitive Slave Act was refusing to convict defendants prosecuted for aiding fugitive slaves.


Jury Nullification | 07 Nov 2013

-Jury Nullification Victor NJ Weedman Requests Clemency for Imprisonment Due to Administrative Shenanigans


Cannabis_sativa_(Köhler)Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion has issued a Request for Medical Clemency today requesting that New Jersey governor Chris Christie grant clemency for a Stay of Sentence, pending his appeal of Judge Delaney’s court rulings regarding his conviction on a victimless offense of marijuana possession, which he uses to treat very painful bone cancer tumors. As we’ve previously reported, Forchion successfully pursued a jury nullification strategy and obtained an outright acquittal on a more serious charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, but was convicted on a charge of simple possession. Click through the link below for Ed’s comments on how he believes administrative shenanigans were employed to put him in jail for a charge that would ordinarily not be punished with imprisonment.

In addition to his use of medical marijuana to treat his condition, Forchion is taking part in an experimental treatment which requires him to be in California periodically for medical procedures. His imprisonment has interfered with this life-preserving therapy, by resulting in major expenses to fly back and forth to California, impeding his ability to raise the funds necessary to do so, and even interfering with him obtaining a required MRI/Bone scan as part of his treatment.

An irreplaceable human life is at stake here, and real harm is being done to this man in retribution for him not harming anyone. Please call Governor Chris Christie’s office at 609-292-6000 to support Ed’s request for a stay of sentence pending his appeal in this case, emphasizing that real medical harm is being done to a peaceful person, which is contrary to the spirit of COMPASSION that New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Act of 2010 was meant to bring to the legal system in the cases of medical marijuana patients.

Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion’s Request to Governor Christie for Medical Clemency

I ask you to grant me CLEMENCY not for the entire case but for a “STAY of SENTENCE pending the appeal” review by the New Jersey Court system of Judge Delaney’s court rulings. If not – not only will I not be able to retrieve my freedom back upon successful appeal. My HEALTH is absolutely being ruined by Judge Delaney’s illegally obtained GUILTY PLEA.

Click through for the entire request.


Jury Nullification | 07 Nov 2013

-Adam Kokesh Foregoes Jury Nullification Strategy, Takes Plea Deal


Adam Kokesh, who previously committed himself to pursue a jury nullification strategy against gun and drug charges, has reportedly taken a plea deal and been released from incarceration pending sentencing. According to a video on his YouTube channel, Kokesh faces a possible maximum of 7 1/2 years incarceration.

News reports say his sentencing is currently scheduled for January.
Gun activist Adam Kokesh pleads guilty to weapons charges
Activist Who Loaded a Shotgun on Freedom Plaza Pleads Guilty
Activist Adam Kokesh pleads guilty to drug, weapons charges


Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 06 Nov 2013

-The IRS vs. Doreen Hendrickson: Hung Jury


Jury BoxA lone holdout juror who maintained a Not Guilty vote has hung the jury in the case of the IRS vs. Doreen Hendrickson. We have heard that this case involved specific jury instructions explicitly telling jurors not only that they were to accept the law as the judge gave it to them, but also that it is not a defense to the crime of contempt that the court order was unlawful or unconstitutional. If anyone has a copy of the court documents regarding the jury instructions in this case, we would like a copy to post on the website.

The IRS vs. Doreen Hendrickson: The Verdict

This morning, the jury in Doreen Hendrickson’s trial returned to the courthouse and deliberated all day. At around 5pm, they finally emerged and presented their verdict: hung jury. Hung by ONE! What a delightful victory!!!

One juror stood up to the others, stood up to the IRS (no small undertaking) and to the judiciary — who was clearly making decisions on the side of the IRS.

Judge Roberts admitted all the IRS’ evidence and almost none of the defendant’s. Her instructions to the jury were unconstitutional at best, criminal at worst.

Click through for the entire article.


Jury Nullification | 05 Nov 2013

-Moral Mondays and Jury Nullification


Jury BoxFIJA does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but we do track cases in which jury nullification may play a role.

In this opinion piece for the News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, John T. “Jack” Hall compares the cases of the Moral Monday protestors to that of John Peter Zenger, whose jury protected him from criminal penalty for his criticism of the royal governor of the New York colony at the time.
Moral Mondays and jury nullification

At the jury trial in 1734, Zenger’s lawyer Andrew Hamilton, a famous criminal defense attorney, argued that no one should be punished for speaking critically of the government when that criticism was both truthful and fairly presented. The prosecuting attorney argued that the truth was irrelevant in Zenger’s case and that Hamilton’s legal stipulation that Zenger had printed the challenged comments was proof of guilt.

Under the interpretation of the laws of sedition of the 1700s, it was clear that Zenger had violated the British law. However, after very brief deliberation, the jury found him not guilty! The power of a jury, the finders of ultimate fact or “truth” in a criminal case, to ignore the law and render a verdict contrary to the expected dictates of the written statute is known today as “jury nullification.”

Criminal conviction of the Moral Monday folks seems harsh. The resolution of the prosecution of the Moral Monday protesters might usefully involve the concept of “jury nullification.” Let the government know how much the public is not inclined to convict those who truthfully and fairly criticize our lawmakers

Click through for the entire article.


FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 04 Nov 2013

-Jury Nullification: Acquitting Based on Principle


DCMetroAdProfessor Paul Butler does a great job discussing the power of jurors conscientiously to say Not Guilty, even if the law was technically broken, in this NPR interview spurred by the billboards placed in Washington, D.C.

Jury Nullification: Acquitting Based on Principle
In response to former prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer’s argument against jury nullification, Butler says:

I wouldn’t have advocated this idea of jury nullification but for my experience as a prosecutor, bringing these cases right here in D.C. and just developing so much respect for the people who show up for jury duty. They’re ordinary women and men off the street and they have good common sense. So when I worked as a prosecutor, we all knew if we had some young guy who was charged with a nonviolent drug crime, these D.C. jurors were not going to send that boy to jail.

If it’s murder, rape, theft – again, these are people with good sense. They know that those are the kind of folks who do need to be separated so that they can’t hurt anybody. They were concerned – if you go to the D.C. Superior Court right now, you would think that white people don’t commit crimes. You would think that they don’t use drugs, they don’t get into fights, they don’t steal from their offices. So one way for people who know that’s not an accurate reflection of the world to fight back is to use your power as jurors.

Click through for the interview both in audio and text formats.


Function of Juries & Jury Nullification & Missive of the Month | 03 Nov 2013

-Missive of the Month: Jury System Could Use Some Changes


Robert Boyson of Hope Township, Pennsylvania, educates Lehigh Valley readers with this letter to the editor arguing for fully informed juries, pointing out the double standard at work when legal officials insist the jury be kept in the dark and strictly follow orders:

LETTER: Jury system could use some changes

Every common rule for juror behavior is simply a grab for power away from the jury by the entrenched legal system, by judges, lawyers, law enforcement.

  • Evidence of prior history (and other facts) cannot be presented to a jury because it may be prejudicial? Law enforcement, lawyers, judges all know of the prior history. Are they somehow less likely to be prejudiced by it than the jury? I don’t think so.
  • The judge instructs the jury with his/her interpretation of the law; the jury must follow the instructions. Thanks, but as a juror I know how to read and interpret English. Just give me a copy of the law, please.
  • Pre-emptive challenges of potential jurors by lawyers — talk about prejudice! As a defendant, I’d rather have a random selection of my peers judge me, excluding only those with an obvious conflict of interest.
  • Jurors may not discuss the case prior to all the evidence being presented? Judges, lawyers, law enforcement all discuss the case at will. What is that about?

CLick through for the entire letter.


FIJA in the News & FIJActivist | 01 Nov 2013

-Jury Nullification Billboards Seen in and around DC Metro Stops


Take a few minutes today to watch and share this interview on the local Washington, DC affiliate with Jim Babb regarding the ads placed in and around DC Metro stops we alerted you to a couple of weeks ago. Jim spearheaded the effort to place these ads which direct people to Google “jury nullification” and to visit the FIJA website for more information on the full, legal authority of jurors in protecting human rights. He reports that expanding these ads to new cities around the country such as New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Boston, etc. is in the works. Great work, Jim!



Jurors Doing Justice | 01 Nov 2013

-Jury Finds Florida Sheriff Nick Finch Not Guilty


IMG_1132cropYesterday a jury took just over an hour to acquit suspended Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch, who was accused of improperly freeing a man carrying a concealed weapon. Finch says he released the unfortunate arrest victim, who had harmed nor threatened nobody, because the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution takes precedent over local gun regulations.

Jury Finds Florida Sheriff Nick Finch Not Guilty of Misconduct

A Florida Panhandle jury took roughly an hour on Thursday to declare suspended Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch not guilty of misconduct stemming from his decision to intervene in a gun arrest.

Finch was arrested in June after prosecutors alleged he had destroyed official records related to the March arrest of Floyd Eugene Parrish. Parrish was arrested by one of Finch’s deputies during a traffic stop for carrying a pistol in his pocket without a concealed weapons permit. Two hours later, Finch arrived at the jail and had Parrish released. Finch said he released Parrish because he did not believe state gun laws should trump the Second Amendment.

Finch also denied destroying any records and insisted that it made little sense to charge Parrish since so many people in the county routinely carry guns in their cars and trucks.

State prosecutors are openly disappointed at not being able to punish victimless behavior in this instance:

State Attorney Willie Meggs — who said this is the first time he had prosecuted a sheriff during his nearly 30 years in office — said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“We thought we established the case, the verdict should have been guilty on both counts,” Meggs said.

See also:
Sheriff acquitted in gun-related case
Sheriff Nick Finch Found Not Guilty, Reinstated


FIJA in the News | 30 Oct 2013

-Corrections to Washington Post Article on DC Jury Nullification Ads


DCMetroAdCongratulations to the volunteers behind the Metro billboard in the Judiciary Square station in Washington, DC for making the Washington Post!

Billboard advocating jury nullification concerns local prosecutors

Prospective jurors who take the subway to D.C. Superior Court and exit near the National Building Museum see these words: “Good jurors nullify bad laws” and “You have the right to ‘hang’ the jury with your vote if you cannot agree with other jurors.”

Since the billboard went up this month, District prosecutors have been worried that the message could sway their cases. In the past week alone, they have asked judges in three ­cases to ensure that jurors had neither seen nor been influenced by the billboard.

Click through for the entire article.

Unfortunately, Mr. Alexander’s reporting leaves something to be desired as far as reflecting our conversation accurately. I have posted my comments below the article, but will also share them here to clarify some misleading things in the article. I’m afraid Mr. Alexander has left out and misstated some important details in this article, misleading readers to conclusions which do not accurately reflect our conversation.

First off, I was VERY explicit that FIJA does not advocate for or against any particular case- we do not “target cases” as Mr. Alexander claims in the article, and I certainly did not say that we do. We generally educate about the traditional, legal authority of the jury to refuse to enforce unjust or unjustly applied laws in order to deliver a just verdict, such as in cases of victimless crimes. Mr. Alexander seemed confused about this asking if I meant something like where a murder took place but no body was found. No, no, no. Not that at all. When a murder has been committed, there is very obviously a victim, even if a body has not been found. (You may recall I posted about this here on FB several days ago, saying hoping I had straightened out the caller. Apparently I had not.)

By way of example to explain, I gave the recent case of Jeff Olson in San Diego just a few weeks ago. Mr. Olson was prosecuted on 13 charges of so-called “vandalism” for writing anti-Bank of America statements ON THE PUBLIC SIDEWALK IN CHALK, which obviously will rub off as people walk on it and will be gone completely the next time it rains. Note that not only does San Diego have at least one chalk art festival, but protestors outside Mr. Olson’s trial were allowed by police to chalk messages on the sidewalk in a box chalked out on the walk by the police themselves. This was clearly a case of selective prosecution for a so-called offense that is perfectly acceptable to the state when its message is not contrary to the state’s whims. Mr. Olson turned down plea deals offered by the prosecuting attorney, instead facing a potential 13 years in jail plus $13000 in fines for this entirely victimless exercise in free speech. His jury acquitted him on all counts. This is a FAR cry from Mr. Alexander’s implication that FIJA considers vandalism generally a victimless crime. I think most people can see that this is a very different situation from, say, spray painting on your neighbor’s car, which is clearly NOT a victimless crime.

As regards the Kokesh case, Mr. Alexander was very enthusiastic about trying to make a connection between this ad and the case, which is perhaps what led him to incorrectly report that we “target” cases like that. In fact, what I said was that we do NOT advocate for or against specific cases, including the Kokesh case, and that jury nullification is most typically used in cases where there is no victim because why should we be harming somone who has not harmed anybody else? Like the Kokesh case?, he wanted to know. As I told Mr. Alexander, people should ask themselves in EVERY case, which by definition includes the Kokesh case, who is the victim?

-Kirsten Tynan


FIJActivist | 17 Oct 2013

-Liberty Activists Spearhead D.C. Jury Nullification Campaign


Liberty activists around the country have come together for a general education outreach campaign this fall in Washington, D.C. They raised cash and Bitcoin to purchase advertising in the Washington, D.C. Metro facilities, and developed the backlit advertising display you see here located at Judiciary Square on the red line. These ads encourage everyone to learn more about their rights and responsibilities as jurors, including their authority to exercise jury nullification when a just verdict requires it.

Two more ads will be going up in the area in the next few days. These ads will run for the next month at least. The advertising period may be extended if additional funds become available. Anyone interested in pitching in toward keeping this effort going can contribute via this link.

A complementary street outreach effort is being coordinated in addition to the advertising effort. Funds collected will be used to print materials for jury nullification street outreach. Activists will print brochures and glossy card for distribution beginning October 24th. Use this link to contribute directly toward the fund for literature for street outreach.

Cash donations are welcome as are Bitcoin contributions. Please note that these donation will be handled by Jim Babb. We do not process them, and they are not tax-deductible donations to FIJA.



Jurors Doing Justice | 09 Oct 2013

-Jury Protects Disabled Man from a Year Incarceration for His Medical Condition


A Fort Collins, Colorado jury has refused to convict a disabled man for being noncooperative with police while in a disoriented state while he was just coming out of a seizure in which he suffered a head injury. While apparently nobody was either hurt or threatened during the incident, it appears that armed police officers used their observations of him reaching into his pocket as an excuse to exercise violence against him. That a man would essentially be charged with a crime for his disability shows the lack of human decency that has overtaken our legal system. Many thanks to the jurors for protecting Steven Hodges from a possible year in jail, due to an unavoidable medical condition.

Disabled man acquitted of interfering with Fort Collins police

A mentally disabled man ticketed while coming out of a disorienting seizure in May was acquitted by a Fort Collins jury and plans to file a civil-rights lawsuit, his attorney said.

Steven Hodges, 55, was walking to a store near his home last May when the seizure hit. He fell and banged his forehead on the sidewalk, suffering a large, bloody cut. Firefighters and medics were called, then police, and Hodges was uncooperative.

Hodges was found not guilty on Tuesday after a one-day trial and about 90 minutes of deliberation in Fort Collins Municipal Court. He avoided a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail on the charge of “interference with public officers,” according to the citation.


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