Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries & Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 02 Jul 2013

-Jeff Olson Acquitted of Sidewalk Chalking “Vandalism” in Apparent Jury Nullification

Share

At risk of 13 years in prison plus an addition $13,000 in fines, activist Jeff Olson turned down a plea deal and took his case before a jury where today he was acquitted on all 13 misdemeanor charges in what appears to be another jury nullification.

Jeff Olson Acquitted Of Charges From Writing In Chalk On San Diego Sidewalk

A Superior Court jury deliberated for five hours after a four-day trial before acquitting Jeff Olson Monday of the 13 misdemeanor charges that could have brought 13 years in jail and $13,000 in fines.

Olson, 40, was charged with scrawling messages like “Shame on B of A” and `’No thanks, big banks” in water-soluble chalk on sidewalks outside San Diego Bank of America branches from April to August 2012. He included a drawing of an octopus reaching for dollar bills.

This statement from the San Diego city attorney’s office hints at the power of a jury to push back against wasteful and abusive prosecutions by sending a message that juries won’t make them stick:

“Graffiti remains vandalism in the state of California,” the city attorney’s office said. “Under the law, there is no First Amendment right to deface property, even if the writing is easily removed, whether the message is aimed at banks or any other person or group. We are, however, sympathetic to the strong public reaction to this case and the jury’s message.”

Share

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 02 Jul 2013

-Jurors’ Reactions to Tim O’Shea Prosecution

Share

Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Good news yesterday on the conclusion of the Tim O’Shea case from Terrie Best of San Diego Americans for Safe Access. Last week a jury deadlocked 9 Not Guilty, 3 Guilty in this case, and we were awaiting news of whether a retrial would be held. Terrie reports on Judge Rogers’ response to the prosecutor’s intent to refile:

Tim O’Shea Medical Marijuana Case Update – Motion to Dismiss Granted!!

He felt another trial, of course, would be burdensome to Tim O’Shea and explored the possible purposes a new trail might serve. One purpose would be for a resulting punishment in the case which did not seem appropriate to the judge. The preservation of public safety was another possible outcome and his honor did not find that applicable either. Further, Judge Rogers could not find any valuable purpose for re-trying Tim and felt Tim had not broken the spirit of the Compassionate Use Act or the Medical Marijuana Program Act.

Further, the judge reminded La Touche that her case was NOT one of 7,800 grams of medical cannabis but was, without the stalks, a mere couple hundred grams.

Judge Roger’s pointed to the fact that three quarters of the jury had voted not guilty, and he himself did not think it was a strong case for sales therefore he doubted a unanimous guilty verdict would ever be reached against Tim. Judge Roger’s granted with prejudice Mark Bluemel’s motion to dismiss in the interest of justice the people’s case against Tim O’Shea, thereby ending District Attorney and failed Mayoral candidate, Bonnie Dumanis’ torture of this kind-hearted citizen.

This is a HUGE victory in a climate where defendants are regularly punished without conviction, simply by being hounded relentlessly by overzealous prosecutors funding their career ambitions at taxpayer expense while quickly draining the hard-earned dollars of their victims.

Terrie also gives us a glimpse into the minds of the jury:

I had the privilege of speaking a full hour with another juror (I had already spoken with one directly after Thursday’s deadlock and reported on that previously in my 8th day update) who called me over the weekend. She told me the entire jury felt very sad for Tim. They did not understand why the police would exaggerate evidence and many felt angry the case was prosecuted since there was no egregious behavior, no selling to kids or blatant misuse of the CUA or MMPA.

None of the jurors had a problem with marijuana and felt it would be legalized soon and all of this would be a moot point. They were angry that eight days of their time and public employee time had been wasted prosecuting this case.

Click through here for her entire report.

Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this major accomplishment, and a BIG THANK YOU to all on the jury who maintained their Not Guilty votes until the end. This case is a shining example of why we at FIJA emphasize that a hung jury is ALWAYS a better outcome for the defendant than jurors allowing their convictions to be worn down during deliberations and eventually going along with a guilty verdict against their better judgment. Remember: there is no requirement for a jury to return a unanimous verdict either way. This case clearly demonstrates that maintaining a Not Guilty verdict and hanging the jury may in the end be just as valuable as a unanimous acquittal!

Share

Jury Nullification | 01 Jul 2013

-Mayor Filner on Jury Nullification Plea for Sidewalk Chalker: No One Has Asked Me

Share

The Fully Informed Jury Association does not advocate for or against any case in progress. We do, however, track and report on cases in which jury nullification is at issue. This article concerns a recent case in which Jeff Olson faces a maximum of 13 years in prison for writing political statements on a public sidewalk with water soluble chalk- an activity for which others making political statements have been given permission. Police have even given permission for Chalk-U-Py San Diego activists to chalk a 6 foot by 70 foot area outside the courthouse in Olson’s support.

Is it the mess or the message? City Attorney has been selective when prosecuting chalk vandalism

Is it the mess or is it the message?

Is it the fact that Olson’s message was a key tenet of the Occupy Wall Street movement or would it happen to any person or group wishing to exercise their free speech with a piece of washable chalk.

Those are questions that will likely remain unanswered long after the case of Jeff Olson, a San Diego man who is facing a maximum sentence of 13-years in jail for scribbling anti-Bank of America slogans outside of three bank branches over a five-month span, is decided.

As we reported on Friday, attorney Jeremy Warren was well aware of City Attorney’s Jan Goldsmith’s desire to prosecute Occupy San Diego participants.

“…I was told in no uncertain terms that negotiations would be challenging because City Attorney Goldsmith was personally involved in the Occupy cases.”

Goldsmith’s decision to prosecute Olson and the young Occupier who Warren represented, seems to go against what other groups with different message were told.

One such group, pro-life activists Live Action San Diego, organized a “Talk and Chalk” July 2011 protest outside of a local Planned Parenthood.

Mayor Filner recently held a public press conference calling for jury nullification in the victimless medical marijuana case of Ronnie Change.

On Friday, Mayor Bob Filner again expressed his disappointment with the case and the decision by the City Attorney to prosecute Olson.

“It looks like we were prosecuting someone at the insistence of Bank of America for writing political issues. I mean, it’s chalk. It’s washable chalk. It’s political slogans. We are not even responding to public complaints. They were complaints from Bank of America. I think it’s a stupid case and is costing us money. If these are the types of cases the City Attorney is prosecuting then I am not sure he needs as much money in his budget as he says he does.”

When asked if Filner is considering making a plea to jurors to acquit Olson in spite of his guilt, also known as jury nullification, the Mayor responded, “Nobody has asked me. Usually I respond when the attorney or the public ask me to get involved and no one has asked me.”

Share

Jury Nullification | 01 Jul 2013

-“Full Circle” Jury Nullification Short Film

Share

Thanks to David Snellings who alerts us to this entry in the “Operation Paul Revere” film contest. A defendant is charged with a “crime” for the legal offense of growing a garden instead of a lawn in his front yard- a situation that is quickly becoming more and more common. We definitely appreciate that someone is using this an opportunity to educate people about jury nullification! The film does an excellent job of showing how we, in the process of protecting a defendant’s rights and educating others about jury nullification, protect our own rights in the process.

However, there are several elements that are unlikely to play out in a real life situation. The most unlikely element is that a juror who argues jury nullification as openly as several jurors do in the trials in this film would very likely be removed from the jury before he or she can nullify. Other jurors on a panel may tattle to the judge on a juror who they deem not to be deliberating. Once a judge gets wind of a the notion of jury nullification being considered by a jury, that is very likely to be squashed almost immediately. Legal precedent allows a judge to remove a juror from deliberations who expresses an intent to nullify, which the juror in the film clearly does. (A judge may also remove, and even punish, a juror for doing outside research as the holdout juror in the second trial suggests other jurors do.) Jurors are not, however, required to give a reason for their vote, and judges may not remove jurors for expressing doubts about a defendant’s guilt. It is MUCH safer to simply keep quiet about the reason for your vote, or say something general like, “I simply cannot find this defendant guilty of a crime.” Remember, if there is NO VICTIM, there is NO CRIME.

Jurors are also generally kept in the dark about the ultimate penalty for which a defendant is at risk. Except in capital cases where a “death-qualified” jury is selected, jurors discouraged from taking the punishment into account. They will not be told how much punishment the defendant is looking at if he is convicted. While jurors may NOT be punished for their verdicts, jurors who do outside research on possible sentences, or on jury nullification as one of the jurors suggests they do, may not only be removed from the panel, but they may also be held in contempt of court and punished for that.

Remember, you cannot nullify if you are no longer on the jury. Protect your ability to vote Not Guilty by avoiding any of these moves which could result in your removal from the jury. A hung jury is MUCH better for a defendant than the Guilty verdict he would receive in your absence.

Share

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 28 Jun 2013

-Report on a Judge’s and a Prosecutor’s Views on Jury Nullification

Share

FIJAInfoatSDHallofJusticeWe have come across a report by Adela Falk of The Human Solution regarding this week’s case of medical marijuana user and grower Tim O’Shea’s case in San Diego.

Funny that we take different lessons from court support

Apparently, several activist were passing out Jury Nullification pamphlets to potential jurors early in the morning. Prosecutor La Touche saw and obtained a pamphlet; she shared it with the court. Thus, Judge Charles Rogers spoke about Jury Nullification. His position on Jury Nullification is also reflected by fellow Judges in our local court system.

He claimed that jury nullification is a notion- a form of a political theory.

Judge Rogers continued to say that is the duty as a juror is to follow the law as it is written even if you don’t agree with it.

Choke on this: Judge Rogers thanked Prosecutor La Touche for informing him about the weed that was sprouting outside. Referencing very condescendingly that knowledge about jury nullification is an annoying weed that needs to be removed before it overgrows into societies thinking. Educate yourself and others about this important principle of freedom. Don’t allow Judges and Prosecutors to thwart the will of the People.

Click through for more extensive reporting on the judge’s and prosecutor’s views on jurors’ rights and responsibilities.

It is not surprising that both a judge and a prosecutor take the same dim view of jury independence. Judges and prosecutors are government employees, both paid by the government, and therefore both represent the government. They have a vested interest in keeping the court full and shuffling as many people into the prison system as possible.

Terrie Best reported on Facebook that the jury deadlocked 9 Not Guilty, 3 Guilty, with the two alternate jurors who did not vote also saying they would have voted Not Guilty. With a hung jury, the prosecution could refile, but she thinks it unlikely given the split was very heavily in favor of acquittal. It will be at least Monday before more information is available on whether or not the case will be retried.

Share

FIJA Calendar & FIJActivist | 28 Jun 2013

-Juror Education at Firearm Freedom Day, 6 July in Corinth, MS

Share

Elaine Vechorik shares with us news of Firearm Freedom Day on 6 July in Corinth, MS. FIJA flyers will be distributed at this event!

Events like this are a great way to educate the community long before they walk into a courthouse. As we all know, judges will explicitly misinform jurors about their roles once they are sitting in the jury box. When they learn about their rights outside of a courthouse setting, they have time beforehand to gain confidence from their own independent research that they may vote Not Guilty even in contradiction to the instructions of a black-robed authority figure.

FirearmFreedomDay

Share

Freedom Friday & Jury Nullification | 28 Jun 2013

-FREEDOM FRIDAY: Jury Nullification Outreach in Clay County, Florida

Share

In this week’s Freedom Friday video, we share with you more great FIJA activism informing Floridians about jury nullification! Jeff Gray (Honor Your Oath) stands outside the Clay County Courthouse in Green Cove Springs, Florida engaging interested passersby in conversation informing them about the power of jurors to protect their neighbors by nullifying bad laws and refusing to convict peaceful people.

Two good points for activists to take to heart:
1. Jeff does not advocate for or against any particular case, but only does general outreach. This helps avoid any false characterization of his efforts as “jury tampering”.
2. Jeff presents passersby with the basic introduction, but maximizes the impact he can make in the short time he has with each person by directing them to the FIJA website for further information.

Thank you so much to Jeff Gray for your time and effort in your community!

Share

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 27 Jun 2013

-Casting Democracy to the Wind on the Homeless in Palo Alto

Share

Mark Petersen-Perez of The Palo Alto Free Press reports that Palo Alto, California is moving forward on a proposed ban which, according to former Santa Clara County Public Defender Aram James, would make living in a vehicle a criminal offense punishable by 6 months in jail. Speaking after the council’s decision to move forward with the measure, James encouraged homeless rights advocates not to be discouraged, noting that the full jury had not yet spoken and that jury nullification is a tool that can be used in defense of the unhoused community.

Casting democracy to the wind on the homeless in Palo Alto

For many in attendance it was what appeared to be a crushing defeat for homeless rights. Not so this is just the first round says Aram James a long time Palo Alto resident and attorney. He relates;

“Folks don’t hold your heads down! Tonight was just the 1st round, the opening arguments. The politicians just played their best hand in full public view like discovery in a criminal trial we (the public) now know their best arguments–very weak at best.

Nearly thirty members of the public spoke all but two oppose this ugly draconian ordinance. Now’s the time to redouble our efforts–the full jury has not yet spoken!! Now we organize remember our weapons, jury nullification, and the defense of necessity, discriminatory enforcement and defenses to this ordinance only limited by our imagination!!!

No jury of 12 citizens will ever convict for violation of this immoral proposed ordinance!! The community united will never be defeated by self-serving politicians. It’s time to fight back elect members of the un-housed community–including vehicle dweller–to our city council”.

Share

Jury Nullification | 27 Jun 2013

-Rich Paul Appeal Funded to Go Forward

Share

RichPaulThe fundraising appeal to go forward with Rich Paul’s appeal in his jury nullification case has been funded sufficiently to go forward with the appeal. Funds are now being raised to support additional expenses related to the appeal and in preparation for a possible retrial. Click through below for the link to the new campaign.

Back in April, Paul was convicted on four victimless offenses after the judge in his case explicitly misinformed the jury that they were not permitted to judge the law even though this right of jurors is explicitly codified in a New Hampshire informed jury law passed in 2012.

Paul notes that his appeal is not about him getting out of jail, and in fact, he will probably have served his entire sentence by the time the appeal is complete. Rather his appeal has the potential to set important precedent with regard to how jury nullification is dealt with in future cases. This doesn’t just affect him, nor does it only affect marijuana activists. It has far-reaching implications for ALL future cases in which the jury’s right to be accurately informed about jury nullification may play a role.

Rich Paul Appeal Fundraiser a Success!

The fundraising is not finished by any means. Next up we need to raise the $1,200 it will cost to get the trial transcripts from the court and while the initial retainer is covered Joshua Gordon may require more hours of work than estimated and there are other expenses that may come up. Couple that with the possibility of a retrial and the money needed is still quite substantial. Essentially, the first step of this journey is complete and now we need to prepare for the next steps.

I spoke with Rich prior to writing this and he wanted me to emphasize that this is not about keeping him out of jail but rather setting precedent in regards to Jury Nullification rights so that future defendants can confidently persuade a jury to nullify a bad law. If things work out it will also set a precedent for those ensnared by the Drug Task Force or worse, the FBI. It is entirely likely that Rich might be out of jail by the time this appeal process is complete.

Share

Function of Juries & Interviews & Jury Nullification | 26 Jun 2013

-Jury Nullification on Hawaii’s Tomorrow Radio Show

Share

Kirsten Tynan will join Share Christie and Ed Forchion discussing jury rights and justice on live drive home talk radio in Hawaii tomorrow:

Thursday, 27 June 2013
at 5:00 pm Hawaii time
on Hawaii’s Tomorrow on 760 AM
with Jeff Davis, The Solar Guy

If you are still awake in your time zone, listen live here!

Share

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 26 Jun 2013

-Jurors Explain Decision in Hershberger Case

Share

Last night in Rock Springs, Wisconsin, jurors in the the Vernon Hershberger case spoke to the public about the courtroom shenanigans that led to their confusing verdict.

The anchor gets some of the details wrong about the charges and verdicts in this video, but check it out for comments from the jurors, one of whom describes the trial as “a waste of everybody’s time”.

The Wisconsin State Journal also covered the event, at which jurors expressed anger that relevant information was withheld from them which misled them to convict wrongly one one count.
Jurors who acquitted him speak in support of organic farmer Vernon Hershberger

Hershberger, 41, would have been found not guilty on all counts if the jury had been given fuller information regarding the holding order, Bollfrass-Hopp said. She added she was angry to learn after the trial that some key information was withheld from the jury by state prosecutors and Sauk County judge Guy Reynolds.

“I was making myself sick second-guessing myself for a week after the trial before I realized we did the best we could with what we had in front of us,” said Bollfrass-Hopp, who is a manager at a telecommunications company.

Winecke told the audience, which included Hershberger and his wife, Erma, that she, too, was angered when she learned all the facts behind the holding order. “How can we make a decision when we can’t see all the evidence?” said Winecke, 46, of Rock Springs.

Click through for the entire article.

Share

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 21 Jun 2013

-FREEDOM FRIDAY: Members of the Bellingham 3 Call for Jury Nullification

Share

FIJA does not advocate for or against any case in progress. However, we do track cases in which the rights and responsibilities of jurors may play a key role. In this week’s Freedom Friday video, Poppy Sidhu, of the Bellingham Cannabis 3, calls jury nullification “the light at the end of the tunnel”. Along with her co-defendants, she is at risk of being imprisoned for victimless violations for more years than she has been alive. Martin Nickerson, owner of Northern Cross Collective Gardens, also reports on their upcoming court date, which is currently scheduled for 10 July 2013.

Share

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 19 Jun 2013

-Information Withheld from Hershberger Jury Might Have Resulted in Fourth Acquittal

Share

By Unisouth (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Unisouth (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The recent raw milk case of Vernon Hershberger ended in a very curious verdict. Hershberger was acquitted of three counts of operating retail, dairy, and processing facilities without licenses, but was convicted of one count of violating a hold order that resulted from the activities of which he was acquitted. How could a jury convict a man of violating a hold order levied against him for violations of which that same jury agreed he was not guilty? Juror Michele Bollfrass-Hopp explains how information relevant to the jury’s decision was withheld from jurors by the judge in the case.

The Inside Story of a “Juror Revolt” in Amish Raw Milk Trial

The criminal misdemeanor trial of Wisconsin raw milk farmer Vernon Hershberger that drew national media attention ended more than two weeks ago, but Michele Bollfrass-Hopp, one of the jurors in the case, has been unable to get it out of her mind.

Hershberger was charged with four counts: three counts of not having appropriate licenses, and one count of violating a holding order. The jurors voted to acquit Hershberger of the licensing charges, but since Hershberger admitted during the trial to violating the holding order (which was issued to prevent him from distributing, or even moving, his products) they convicted him on the count. What they didn’t know was that the reason for issuing the holding order was because of Hershberger’s failure to have retail and dairy permits the DATCP said were required — the very charges they acquitted him of.

The members of the Hershberger jury were only allowed by the judge to see a redacted version of the hold order issued to Hershberger during a search of his farm and store by state agriculture and public health authorities on June 2, 2010; blotted out were the causes for the hold order.

If they had been able to see the whole document, some members of the jury believe they would have acquitted on all four counts.

Several jurors in this case were so upset at being misled into a Guilty verdict that they wrote letters to the judge in support of Vernon Hershberger and opposing harsh sentencing. Bollfrass-Hopp and three other jurors even attended the sentencing hearing in support of Hershberger.

The jurors had bonded personally and over the two weeks since the trial and become increasingly upset about the single guilty verdict they rendered. Bollfrass-Hopp said her letter was part of “a juror revolt” that had built up in the days following their decision, arrived at about 1 a.m. on May 25, after about four hours of deliberation. “The holding order was applied in a way that wasn’t right,” she said.

The jury foreman, Paul Freitag, was more forceful. An installer for a cable television company, Freitag said he decided to leave the letter writing to Bollfrass-Hopp because he feared his own letter might be harsher than hers, and seen as “criticizing the judge too much.” Freitag said he was upset that jurors “didn’t have the truth” and that “if we could have ruled on whether that was a legitimate hold order, we would probably have found him innocent.”

The single conviction in the case reportedly came about after bargaining among the jurors during deliberations:

As most juries do, the jurors of the Hershberger trial compromised. Freitag wanted to acquit on all counts; Robb Porubsky, a plant manager at a metal fabric company, was holding out for conviction on a charge that would penalize Hershberger for not having a retail license. Eventually Porubsky was persuaded to abandon his position for conviction on the retail license charge (“Hershberger was in a gray area,” Porubsky decided) in exchange for Freitag giving up his lone vote for acquittal on the hold order.

We remind everyone that a hung jury is much better for a defendant who has harmed nobody than a conviction. Jurors are NOT required to come to a unanimous verdict on any count, and jurors who believe a defendant should not be convicted on a particular count should maintain their Not Guilty verdict even in the face of pressure from other jurors. A juror who is not convinced that she or he has all the information needed to render a just verdict of Guilty can and should vote Not Guilty.

Sentencing in the Vernon Hershberger raw milk jury nullification case resulted in a $1000 fine, plus an additional $513 in court costs. He had been at risk for a maximum sentence of a year in jail plus a $10,000 fine. Even in light of several jurors’ making clear that they regretted their verdict, the judge in the case denied a motion for a new trial on the hold order charge. It is not yet clear whether an appeal on that charge will be filed by the defendant.

Dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger receives $1,000 fine in raw milk case

A Sauk County dairy farmer who has gained national fame in the raw-milk debate avoided jail time and probation in his sentencing Thursday for a crime stemming from a raid on his Grazin’ Acres farm.

It was the first case of its kind in Wisconsin, according to state officials who prosecuted Vernon Hershberger, of Loganville, for not having licenses for his dairy operations and for violating a hold order placed on products in his food store, which he said was a private buyers club.

Sauk County Circuit Judge Guy Reynolds ordered Hershberger to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $513 in court costs, for the hold-order violation. He had faced a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Share

Function of Juries | 19 Jun 2013

-Hershberger Jurors Talk at the Rock Springs Library

Share

This announcement was passed along to us by Andy Mastracola of Food Freedom USA:

Join us at the Rock Springs Public Library (Wisconsin)
on Tuesday, June 25, at 7:00pm to hear a first-hand account
of what it was like to be a Juror on the Vernon Hershberger Raw Milk Trial.

The discussion will be informal, so bring your questions, your experiences, and your comments.
Light refreshments will be served.

We hope you can make it! Bring along others who may also be interested!

For more information on this and other programming,
call the Rock Springs Public Library at 608-522-5050.

Share

FIJActivist & Jury Nullification | 19 Jun 2013

-Jury Nullification Outreach at Hall of Justice in San Diego

Share

Many thanks to San Diego Americans for Safe Access for passing along this photo of individuals at the Hall of Justice in San Diego reading FIJA educational literature!

FIJAInfoatSDHallofJustice

The concept of jury nullification got a recent boost of exposure in the San Diego media when Mayor Bob Filner publicly advocated for jury nullification in the case of medical marijuana provider Ronnie Chang. Thank you so much to everyonesharing FIJA information with the San Diego community!

Share

« Newer Entries - Older Entries »