Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 15 Dec 2015

—Religion Baiting Prosecutor Terrified of Jurors with Consciences

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Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede invoked bigoted scaremongering rhetoric last week in the first court hearing for Keith Wood, a juror rights educator falsely charged with felony obstruction of justice and misdemeanor attempting to influence jurors. Wood was handing out FIJA brochures on the public sidewalk near the Mecosta County Courthouse in Michigan, legally and within his First Amendment rights. I have collected details of his case on a case file page in our library.

Wood’s first court hearing was on 10 December 2015, during which the main point in contention was whether the defense would be allowed to call Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede and Assistant Prosecutor Nathan Hull as witnesses, given their involvement in Wood’s arrest and in questioning Wood without first Mirandizing him and without him having legal representation.

In arguing that he should not be called as a witness, Thiede further made clear that if called as a witness he would do his best to discredit the concept of jury nullification in the eyes of the jury. In explaining what he would be telling the jury, Thiede engaged in inflammatory, disrespectful, and factually-unsupported religion baiting. Specifically, Thiede stated:

This just says ignore the law, ignore the facts, do what your conscience wants. And I’m thinking, oh my goodness, well we could have the jury who thinks that jihad is righteous and if the San Bernadino shooters had not been killed, they’d say ‘Let’s acquit!’ We would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.

Let’s examine whether this outrageous rhetoric, which Thiede surely knew to be inflammatory, stands up to reason.

Spoiler alert: no, it doesn’t.

To begin with, defense attorney David Kallman pointed out in the hearing that the Michigan Model Criminal Jury Instructions explicitly call for jurors to vote their consciences:
“In the end, your vote must be your own, and you must vote honestly and in good conscience.”
Reference: M Crim JI 3.11 Deliberations and Verdict (.pdf)

So with all these jurors ALREADY being told to consult and act on their consciences, where is all this lawlessness in Michigan? Is Michigan the very picture of anarchy? If not, that is a dramatic body of empirical data that soundly demonstrates that Thiede’s wild prediction is utter nonsense.

But let’s go beyond that. Let us say there were hypothetically to arise a case in which Thiede were to try a mass murder such as the one he referenced. Are we to believe that he is concerned that if jurors on such a case were to consult their consciences, that murderers would be acquitted? That is what he is saying there.

How could such a thing come about when twelve jurors would ALL have to agree that murder was perfectly acceptable and should not be punished?

Is Thiede saying that he is himself such a bumbling litigator that he would be unable to seat a jury from which he had eliminated people of ill conscience through challenges for cause and peremptory challenges? That he is such a failure of a prosecutor that he could somehow seat a jury of twelve people, ALL of whom would want to let a murderer go free?

Or is he suggesting that Mecosta County is so overrun with citizens who approve of murder of innocents that it would be impossible to seat a jury that would convict?

Even though Thiede clearly specified an outright acquittal, let us also consider the possibility of hung jury. In order to get a hung jury in such a case, he would still have to fail to seat a jury all twelve of whose members would convict someone of murder. If that happened, he would surely refile the charges and prosecute again, given that a mistrial due to a hung jury allows the option of another prosecution. Is he concerned that he would get a second, a third, or even more consecutive juries who would have at least one member solidly in favor of murder?

There are only two ways such a thing could happen—either Thiede is impugning his own competence as a prosecutor, in which case jurors of good conscience should not be blamed, or he is besmirching the character of a huge portion of Michigan’s population. His remarks are nothing short of ludicrous.

Why would a prosecutor such as Thiede reach to such dishonest rhetoric to keep jurors uninformed of their full, legal authority and ethical responsibility to judge of the justice of the law as well as the facts of a case before them?

I think the answer is quite simple: often prosecutors are looking for jurors to rubber stamp their prosecutorial abuses that shock the conscience.

They charge and prosecutor harmless people for victimless activity and do their best to punish them. They often successfully seek to punish defendants more if they assert their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to trial by jury than if they meekly accept prosecutor nullification in the form of a plea bargain. They maliciously charge people who make their jobs more difficult and seek to make examples of them so the rest of the community will be intimidated out of exercising their own rights.

We need look no further than Keith Wood’s case to see Thiede engaging in EXACTLY this kind of abuse. Thiede’s wrongdoing may be enabled by virtue of his position of government privilege, but he cannot force jurors to be complicit in his malicious misdeeds.

Photo Credit: Photo of Mecosta County Courthouse by Jimmy Emerson, DVM [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification & Volunteer | 12 Dec 2015

—Volunteer Opportunity: Jury Legislation Research Volunteer

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Sunset over Wisconsin State Capitol

The Fully Informed Jury Association’s national office has a strictly educational mission. We do not endorse or oppose any legislation, citizens’ initiative, political candidate, or party. However, we do monitor and track legislation for educational and informational purposes. To that end, we are seeking for the first time to crowdsource efforts to collect such information on a timely basis throughout each legislative session, beginning with 2016.

As a legislative research volunteer, you will be assigned 1 to 5 states (how many is up to you) to check on a weekly basis through an online search for all new proposed jury-related legislation. We will provide training on how to search for such legislation and how to report your findings to us.

You will report to FIJA once a week via an online form some basic information about newly introduced legislation (state, bill number, one sentence description of the bill’s jury-related provisions, and a link to the bill online). As part of our educational mission, we will present to the general public information about select legislation of interest on our jury legislation tracking web page. For examples of what information we are looking for and trying to provide for the general public, jump to Kentucky or New Hampshire on that page.

Click here to apply.






Photo Credit: Photo of sunset over the Wisconsin State Capitol by Jake Pfaffenroth [Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)], via Flickr.

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification & Media Releases | 30 Nov 2015

—FIJA Files Amicus Brief in Kleinman Case in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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FIJA Files Amicus Brief in Kleinman Case in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIJA Logo with URL
CONTACT:

Kirsten C. Tynan
Executive Director
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

Roger I. Roots, J.D., Ph.D.
FIJA Advisory Board Member
(406) 224-3105
rogerroots@msn.com

Helena, MT—The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) has filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of United States of America v. Noah Kleinman in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the judge’s instructions to jurors, which FIJA argues effectively denied the defendant’s Constitutionally-guaranteed right to trial by jury.

From the outset of the federal trial of Noah Kleinman for victimless, marijuana-related activities that were legal under California state law, the prosecution and the judge were bent on quashing any possibility of jurors conscientiously acquitting Kleinman.

Jurors in the case were vetted extensively not only during the initial voir dire at the start of the trial, but were grilled again by the judge in individual, mid-trial interviews. In explaining his crafting of the mid-trial interrogation, the judge stated that jurors “lie like hell” and that “First they lie not to get in that seat; now they will lie to keep that seat.”

Such blatant disrespect of the jury and abuse of the jury process ultimately culminated in the judge issuing inaccurate instructions to the jury, verbatim as submitted by the prosecutor, with objections from the defense being rebuffed. The offending instruction read:

You cannot substitute your sense of justice, whatever that means, for your duty to follow the law, whether you agree with it or not. It is not your determination whether a law is just or whether a law is unjust. That cannot be your task. There is no such thing as valid jury nullification. You would violate your oath and the law if you willfully brought a verdict contrary to the law given to you in this case.

FIJA argues in its amicus brief that in Kleinman’s trial that the court’s approach and treatment of the jury, and its jury instructions, so deprived the jury of its ability to deliberate over Kleinman’s fate that Kleinman was utterly deprived of trial by jury:

While jury instructions have increasingly taken on a tone and orientation reflecting the prosecution bar’s desire to repress jury discretion, never before has a jury been instructed in such an overtly ham-fisted manner as the jury in Noah Kleinman’s trial…

Roger I. Roots, J.D. Ph.D., attorney and FIJA advisory board member, wrote and filed the brief pro bono on behalf of FIJA. “This case offers a near perfect opportunity for a high-level, appellate court to address the growing inaccuracy of jury instructions at the trial level. In fact, they’re not just inaccurate—in many ways they are totally false,” said Dr. Roots.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

Related Documentation
FIJA Amicus Brief in the Case of Noah Kleinman
Appellant’s Opening Brief in the appeal of Noah Kleinman
Day 5 Transcript from the trial of Noah Kleinman

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 23 Oct 2015

-Juror Rights Educator Threatened at Ocean County Courthouse

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Juror Rights Educator Threatened at Ocean County Courthouse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIJA Logo with URL
CONTACT:

James Babb
(610) 574-1222
jamesbabb@mac.com

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

Toms River, NJ—Juror rights educator James Babb was threatened with arrest on Thursday over false jury tampering allegations by law enforcement at the Ocean County Courthouse in Toms River, NJ. Babb was handing out information regarding the right of conscientious acquittal—engaging in free speech activity that is legally protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as well as Article I, Section 6 of the New Jersey State Constitution.

Babb captured these threats from law enforcement on two videos.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Confused law enforcement officers repeatedly demanded that Babb stop handing out general educational information regarding the right of jury nullification. First, he was incorrectly accused of soliciting, then he was alleged to have been violating some unspecified “policy”, and ultimately Lieutenant Green of the sheriff’s office told him that he was being investigated for the alleged crime of jury tampering under New Jersey Code Section 2C:29-8(c). Green then threatened to arrest Babb if he continued to hand out such information or returned later to do so.

Attorney David A. Lane, of Killmer, Lane, and Newman, LLC recently represented the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) and two other plaintiffs in federal court to secure an injunction against similar behavior by the Denver Police Department. Lane has sent an email to the prosecutor’s office requesting that Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato clarify the government’s intentions.

The letter states in part: “The detective in the video indicates that he spoke to either you or members of your office and the detective was advised that this is jury tampering. Please advise me whether you will permit Mr. Babb to leaflet in the walkway seen in the videos or in and around the courthouse grounds or whether you intend to charge him with jury tampering. The threat of arrest by the detective on the video is sufficient for me to make a claim in a NJ federal court that his right to free speech has been chilled by these actions and he needs an injunction to prevent further First Amendment violations. If you take no position, it is my contention that Mr. Babb’s First Amendment rights have been chilled and you are giving him no assurances that he will not be charged with jury tampering.”

“These tax-fattened, mini-tyrants will award themselves any power they can get away with, even if it means curtailing free expression for the entire neighborhood,” said juror rights educator Jim Babb. “Trumped up, overtly bogus “jury tampering” accusations reveal not just their ignorance of the law, but also their total disregard for rights of the mere mundanes who are forced to pay their salary. The freedom of expression is explicitly protected under the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions, which presumably these “public servants” have sworn to uphold,” Babb said.

Jury nullification is the right of jurors to vote Not Guilty, even if they believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the law has been broken. Jurors may wish to conscientiously exercise this right when they believe strict enforcement of the law would be unjust in the case at hand. Not only does the the New Jersey State Constitution guarantee freedom of speech, but it also goes to extra lengths to specifically codify what is every juror’s inherent “right to determine the law and the fact”—the exact concept that courthouse officials wish to hide from jurors.

While prosecutors and judges typically frown on such verdicts and prefer to keep this right secret from jurors so they cannot exercise it, there is nothing illegal about jury nullification and jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts. None of the handouts, nor of any of Babb’s speech discussed any current case or urged jurors to take any particular position in any case before them. Information provided to anyone who accepted a brochure simply informed them of all the options jurors have when judging a case before them, leaving what they do with that information completely up to them and their consciences.

“Whether their false threats of jury tampering charges come from ignorance or malice, the prosecutor’s and sheriff’s offices are violating Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of volunteers. Imagine how terrified they must be of fully informed jurors that they would respond to peaceful people—armed only with information—by threatening them with the possibility of deadly force and imprisonment,” said Kirsten Tynan, executive director of the Fully Informed Jury Association. “How can these government agents be trusted to do their jobs fairly when they can’t even understand the laws? Their tax-paid time would be better spent updating their legal education than using the fiefdom of the courthouse as their own personal schoolyard for bullying.”

Despite repeated attempts by government agents to quash juror rights educators’ efforts to fully inform everyone of jurors’ right to conscientiously acquit, also known as jury nullification, such education is well-established as protected speech. The Fully Informed Jury Association along with two co-plaintiffs secured an injunction in August 2015 against such arrests by the Denver Police Department of juror rights educators handing out FIJA’s Fresh Air for Justice and Your Jury Rights: True or False?.

Additionally, similar false jury tampering charges against another juror rights educator handing out FIJA’s Primer for Prospective Jurors were thrown out of federal court in a ruling from Judge Kimba M. Wood in New York, with a detailed explanation of why juror rights education does not constitute jury tampering. Babb was handing out both the Primer for Prospective Jurors and an additional Know Your Rights handout regarding jury nullification.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.

Related Documentation
Video of Police Harassment of James Babb at Ocean County Courthouse, Part 1
Video of Police Harassment of James Babb at Ocean County Courthouse, Part 2
Federal injunction against Denver Police Department arrests of juror rights activists for free speech activity, granted August 2015
Federal ruling dismissing false jury tampering charges against Julian Heicklen for free speech activity
FIJA brochure: A Primer for Prospective Jurors
Know Your Rights flyer
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
Article I, Section 6 of the New Jersey State Constitution

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Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 01 Oct 2015

-Jon Peditto to Use Jury Nullification Strategy in MMJ Case

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Marijuana (2)

This week we have learned of a courageous New Jersey resident who is openly pursuing a jury nullification strategy in a medical marijuana jury trial coming up at the Ocean County Courthouse in Towns River, NJ. Jon Peditto is a photographer and marijuana grower and activist who was arrested in 2012 and charged with several counts regarding completely victimless marijuana-related offenses.

Despite knowing how biased courts are against jury nullification, and after turning down several plea bargains and the option of having his offenses handled through drug court (which circumvents the right to trial by jury), Peditto is opting for trial by jury and is openly pursuing a jury nullification strategy.

In this interview with Ken Wolski, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Peditto discusses his case in detail, including why he is opting to exercise his Sixth Amendment right instead of forfeiting it to go through the alternative drug court.



Exercising one’s right to trial by jury virtually guarantees that if one is convicted, one will suffer substantially more punishment than what one would suffer under a plea bargain. We refer to this as the arithmetic of injustice.

The cost of trial by jury is the difference between the sentence imposed under a plea bargain (i.e. what the prosecution thinks is a just sentence for the offenses committed) and the sentence imposed if one is convicted in a trial by jury. All of that extra punishment is for no other purpose than to bully defendants into forfeiting their Constitutionally-guaranteed right and to punish and make examples of them if they refuse to knuckle under to abusive authority.

“To get in there and talk to a jury, they’re gonna add decades to your sentence. They’re gonna add decades. They don’t want anybody talking to juries. I absolutely am sure of this,” notes Jon Peditto.

“Most attorneys won’t go to trial, mainly because they never do and they’re uncomfortable doing them. It’s actually work. They have to work for a living, which is something they don’t like to do like most people. Let’s get this done fast. So plea bargaining is the new America. Again, I can’t tell you how dangerous this is,” Peditto emphasizes.

Peditto speaks of his experience with the judge in his case, who so far seems a bit confused that he is not taking plea deals. “Why am I not taking these plea deals? One after another after another. I can see the confusion on his face. But I think now we’re getting to the point where he knows that I just want to talk to these twelve people. And I want to send a clear message, not just to the state of New Jersey but to everybody, that juries will NOT convict peaceful marijuana cases,” Peditto says.

Jon has previously shared his thoughts on jury nullification in cannabis cases on the Garden State Cannabis website. He noted that cultivating 15 marijuana plants in New Jersey is classified as a Class A felony, 1st degree, putting this completely victimless offense legally in the same category as murder, manslaughter, and rape.

“Even without juries being informed of jury nullification, cases have been won here in New Jersey with jurors, after watching defendant testimony, deciding for either moral or personal reasons not to convict, concluding that the charges were unjust,” Peditto said.

Peditto’s case is a sobering reminder of why it is CRITICAL to educate everyone about jurors’ full legal authority and their responsibility to deliver just verdicts, even if it requires setting aside the law to do so. We are currently looking for volunteers starting immediately for juror rights outreach both at the Ocean County Courthouse in Toms River, New Jersey, and at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, New Jersey. If you would like to join one of these efforts please contact us at aji@fija.org or 406-442-7800. If nobody is available to take your call, please leave a message letting us know which courthouse you are interested in volunteering at and your contact information and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!

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FIJA in the News & History of Jury Nullification & Jury Nullification | 03 Sep 2015

-FIJA Celebrates Jury Rights Day

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FIJA Celebrates Jury Rights Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIJA Logo with URL
CONTACT:

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

Helena, MT—Juror rights educators around the country, in conjunction with the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), will celebrate Jury Rights Day, mostly this week, by educating their communities about jury nullification. Inaugurated 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 345th anniversary of jurors’ refusal 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.

“This is an especially timely celebration of our rights given recent dictatorial behavior and statements by the Denver police, Judge Michael Martinez, and Colorado Attorney General’s office” said FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan. “Assistant Attorney General Matthew Grove this week told a federal judge he wants a permanent ban on precisely the behavior of which a jury acquitted William Penn—speaking in public without the government’s approval. The difference is that William Penn’s right to trial by jury allowed his jurors to protect him. If he committed the same offense today, Denver officials would try to avoid trial by jury by any means possible or, failing that, to keep Penn’s jurors completely unaware of their full authority to nullify. Such is the abysmal state of our Constitutional right to trial by jury today, having been chipped away over the course of 200 hundred or so years” said Tynan.

Jurors who were punished for their Not Guilty 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.

This year in defense of both our right to trial by jury, with jurors empowered to exercise their consciences to deliver just verdicts, as well as our freedoms that we have demanded for centuries and which are documented in the First Amendment, the FIJA national office will join with Occupy Denver at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse plaza on Friday, 4 September for a Jury Rights Day celebration in Denver. We will kick off the day with sharing FIJA literature beginning at 7:30 am. At 11:30 am, we will co-host a press conference discussing Jury Rights Day and why it is important to defend our rights at this courthouse.

Nearly 20 other events will take place at courthouses and other public spaces across the country in September.

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
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.

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Jury Nullification | 31 Aug 2015

-Is Juror Rights Outreach Legal?

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Is juror rights outreach legal? In short, yes. This handy infographic documents recent legal events that back this up.

Is Juror Rights Education Legal- Abbreviated

In all of these cases, a key element of “jury tampering” was missing—an attempt to influence the outcome of a particular case. FIJA outreach is simply about making sure that every juror knows all of the options available to them, including the option to vote Not Guilty when a just verdict requires it, even if they believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the law was technically broken. What they do with that information—whether they use it or not—is up to them.

Whether government agents are truly ignorant of this not terribly subtle distinction, or whether they simply ignore it because it is inconvenient in their misguided attempts to chill juror educators’ freedom of expression, they will very occasionally break the law and falsely arrest and charge people for this non-offense.

On the rare occasion when juror rights educators are arrested, that usually makes a big splash in the news. But when they are exonerated of wrongdoing for sharing FIJA information or discussing jury nullification, the media is much less interested. This can leave potential educators, as well as the general public, with the mistaken impression that our work is in some way illegal.

This is NOT the case! FIJA outreach has repeatedly been held in different courts around the country to be perfectly legal. Please feel free to download this infographic and share it on social media, etc. to help correct this mistaken impression.

Information on Safe and Effective FIJA Outreach:
Courthouse Outreach Volunteer Training—an approximately half hour, on-demand, video training on YouTube
Distributing FIJA Literature in Front of Courthouses—a downloadable .pdf flyer discussing the dos and don’ts of juror rights education near courthouses

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 27 Aug 2015

-Malicious Prosecutions Continued by Denver DA’s Office

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Jacob Sullum of Reason continues his detailed reporting on the ongoing situation in Denver. I want to highlight in this article some information that, so far as I can tell, only Sullum has reported on. Following the injunction issued by a federal judge on Tuesday that indicates that sharing jury nullification information is free speech protected under the First Amendment, Sullum asked the spokesperson for the Denver DA about future prospects for the cases against Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt, who were arrested in recent weeks for exactly such protected speech.

Denver Concedes Distributing Jury Nullification Pamphlets Near a Courthouse Is Constitutionally Protected

So does that mean Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey plans to drop the jury tampering charges against Iannicelli and Brandt? Not according to Lynn Kimbrough, Morrissey’s public information officer. “Their charges still stand,” she says. “They weren’t arrested for passing out literature. They certainly have a free speech right to do that.” Rather, Kimbrough says, quoting Colorado’s jury tampering statute, they were arrested for seeking to “communicate with a juror” outside of a judicial proceeding in an attempt to influence the juror’s “vote, opinion, decision, or other action in a case.” But neither the affidavits supporting the arrests nor the charges from Morrissey’s office allege that Iannicelli or Brandt tried to affect the outcome of any particular case. The affidavits mention the Dexter Lewis trial, but Lane says his clients did not even know it was happening.

The affidavits also say Iannicelli and Brandt handed people pamphlets after asking if they had been called for jury duty. The pamphlets received by seven jury pool members were the basis for the seven charges against each defendant. Is asking what brings someone to the courthouse the crucial difference between what Denver deems a crime and what it recognizes as constitutionally protected activity? Kimbrough won’t say. When I press her to explain exactly how Iannicelli and Brandt crossed the line, she says she can’t get into specifics about a pending criminal case. But she does say “there isn’t anything in the federal judge’s ruling that directly affects the allegations against these defendants.”

That’s right. The DA’s office is digging its heels in to continue what at this point appears to be nothing more than a malicious prosecution against Iannicelli and Brandt, continued in the hopes that one of the defendants or both can be broken and coerced into taking a plea deal. (The other alternative I can think of also unflattering: perhaps the DA’s office is simply unfamiliar with the laws they are getting paid to enforce.)

Kimbrough’s refusal to comment on anything that was done to try and influence the outcome of any case in progress speaks volumes. After the Denver DA has issued two press releases regarding these arrests and prosecutions, and despite police statements of probable cause being public record discussing the reasons for these arrests, suddenly the DA’s office can’t discuss the accusation they are making a pending criminal case? Mmmhmm… Or perhaps they don’t wish to discuss the details because transparency will make it clear to everyone that no law was broken?

The basis on which the DA’s office has chosen to continue this case is specious. Communication with a juror does not constitute a violation of Colorado’s anti-jury tampering statute. Rather, C.R.S. 18-8-609 (2014) reads:

18-8-609. Jury-tampering

(1) A person commits jury-tampering if, with intent to influence a juror’s vote, opinion, decision, or other action in a case, he attempts directly or indirectly to communicate with a juror other than as a part of the proceedings in the trial of the case.

(1.5) A person commits jury-tampering if he knowingly participates in the fraudulent processing or selection of jurors or prospective jurors.

(2) Jury-tampering is a class 5 felony; except that jury-tampering in any class 1 felony trial is a class 4 felony.

FIJA guidelines and training for courthouse juror rights education advise against asking people whether or not they are a juror. This is because (a) anyone could be a juror sometime down the road even if they are not serving as a juror on the particular day in question, and (b) not asking provides a little bit of extra safety margin between outreach and ridiculous charges such as those leveled against Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt.

Nonetheless, asking if someone is a juror and then informing them about their right of conscientious acquittal by jury nullification does NOT constitute jury tampering under Colorado state law. The only way communication with a juror constitutes jury tampering under this statute is if the communicator intends to influence a juror’s vote, opinion, decision, or other action in a case. And there is notably ZERO evidence that either Mr. Iannicelli or Mr. Brandt communicated with such intent. All we have seen, of course, is the Denver DA office’s refusal to present any such evidence anywhere that I have seen.

Moreover, the DA charged each with seven counts because the information was received by at least seven, and perhaps up to fourteen, different jurors (it’s not clear if it is the same seven jurors in both cases since names are redacted from the publicly available charging documents). Per my communication with Ms. Kimbrough in past weeks since this started, she did not know if all of the jurors were serving on the same jury or not. Most likely they were random jurors who were assigned to different cases, if they even all served on juries which is not yet clear. So is the DA arguing that two juror rights educators somehow were trying to influence the outcome of multiple cases in the courthouse on the same day? That’s one heck of a conspiracy theory.

I have no doubt that should this make it to jury trial, the DA’s office will simply be wasting a lot of taxpayer dollars in the process of embarrassing themselves.

photo credit: Janet Matzen

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification | 27 Aug 2015

-Denver PD Shows Contempt for Federal Court Order

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Wednesday afternoon, civil rights attorney David Lane of Killmer, Lane, & Newman, LLP filed on behalf of FIJA and co-plaintiffs Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen a Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Defendant Robert C. White Should Not Be Held in Contempt of Court for apparent retaliation by the Denver Police Department. Just hours after a motion for injunction was granted prohibiting further arrests for sharing jury nullification information at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, Denver conducted a mid-morning raid on juror rights educators at the courthouse.

Per the motion:

At approximately 10:00 a.m., a cadre of Denver police officers swarmed into the group of pamphleteers and began seizing items from them. The items seized included but are not limited to the following: All literature regarding jury nullification including about 1,000 pamphlets, a small shade shelter, a table, four chairs, buckets, a cooler, signs and other items.

Additionally:

While on-scene, the police attempted to take personal property such as purses, computers, backpacks and other items. The pamphleteers resisted the attempts by the police to steal their personal property.

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But the amended plaza order prohibits tents, tables, chairs… NO! It does not!
Many people have mistakenly been commenting that the presence of the shade canopy, table, and chairs are a violation of what remained in force of the amended plaza order issued by Judge Michael Martinez, after the injunction from Judge William Martinez is applied. As co-plaintiff Eric Verlo has pointed out, this is incorrect. The amended plaza order (the relevant portions of which are contained within the order for injunction) applies such prohibitions ONLY to the area marked with yellow shading on the picture of the plaza shown on page 8 of the injunction. All of the items stolen by police were located OUTSIDE of this zone where the plaza order’s prohibitions on such items remain in force.

So on what basis did Denver police take these malicious actions?

Wendy Shea, counsel for Denver and Denver police chief Robert White, cited Denver Municipal Code sections 49-246, 49-247, and 49-248 as the reasons for the raid. As Mr. Lane points out in the motion, all of these pertain to “encumbrances”. Lane explained in the motion that:

The police are engaged in retaliatory action for the exercise of protected speech. There is no statute in Denver defining the word “encumbrance” thus the police have decided that anything and everything in the possession of the Plaintiffs and their associates is an “encumbrance” and may be removed. They have taken this action to punish the Plaintiffs and their associates for the exercise of free speech as defined by this Court one day previously.

Juror Rights Educators at Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse Before Police RaidMoreover, citing dictionary definitions of an encumbrance as something that burdens, impedes, causes problems or difficulties, etc., Lane points out that the small area in which juror rights educators were set up in cannot reasonably be considered an encumbrance. The photos to the right, submitted as an exhibit with the motion, clearly illustrates how contrived is this thinly-veiled excuse for theft conducted under color of law.

It is entirely clear from the photo at right that no pathway into or out of the courthouse was encumbered, nor was there any other problem created by the presence and peaceful activity of the juror rights educators or by their property.

Lane argues in the brief that there is only one conclusion to be drawn from such brazen abuse of the law:

The Denver police, acting as jack-booted thugs in blatant violation of this Court’s Order, came into the plaza and began seizing all property not being carried by a pamphleteer. The only plausible explanation for this is that the police were acting in retaliation for the exercise of the free speech rights of the pamphleteers.

We have reports from locals who were present at the time of the property thefts by government officials that Denver PD has been ordered to return all of the property. As of Wednesday evening, however, it had not been returned. When one of the juror rights educators went to the police department to inquire what was the reason for the delay in returning the stolen property, he was told that property owners must identify their property to retrieve it.

Related Documentation
Complaint
Exhibit 1 to the Complaint
Exhibit 2 to the Complaint
Exhibit 3 to the Complaint
Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Defendant Robert C. White Should Not Be Held in Contempt of Court
Exhibit 1 to the Motion to Show Cause
Exhibit 2 to the Motion to Show Cause

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History of Jury Nullification & Jury Nullification & Jury Rights Day & Media Releases | 25 Aug 2015

-Judge Halts Unconstitutional Ban on Juror Rights Education

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Judge Halts Unconstitutional Ban on Juror Rights Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIJA Logo with URL
CONTACT:

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

Helena, MT—A federal court today issued an Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction, effectively gutting paragraph 1 of a recently issued administrative order against juror rights educators sharing information at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse Plaza in Denver, Colorado. Paragraph 1 still applies to the landscaping and gravel area of the plaza, but juror rights educators should be able to share FIJA brochures and verbal jury nullification information for general educational purposes with people in other areas of the plaza without fear of arrest.

FIJA joined with co-plaintiffs Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen of Occupy Denver in filing a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent further arrests for general juror rights educational outreach after juror rights educators Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt were arrested and charged with seven felony counts each of jury tampering for sharing jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in July.

Shortly thereafter, Judge Michael Martinez issued a heavy-handed order prohibiting a broad array of expressive activities in areas outside the Courthouse that constitute a traditional public forum for free speech, and the plaintiffs amended their motion to challenge this sweeping violation of the First Amendment as well.

“We are thrilled with this timely victory for both free speech and juror rights education,” says FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan. “Jury Rights Day commemorates the notable jury nullification case of William Penn, who was arrested for just the sort of peaceful, expressive activity that Judge Michael Martinez attempted to ban outside of Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. His acquittal by conscientious jurors—who would not obey even when a judge who ordered them to find Penn guilty proceeded to imprison them without food and water—was foundational to our legal ability to conduct juror rights outreach at this Courthouse still today. We look forward to celebrating Jury Rights Day at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver next week.”

FIJA will join with Occupy Denver in celebrating Jury Rights Day on Friday, September 4 on the plaza outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver. Each year since 1991, FIJA has rallied juror rights educators nationwide for educational outreach at courthouses and other appropriate locations on and around September 5, known as Jury Rights Day. Jury Rights Day commemorates the famous jury nullification case of the trial of William Penn and William Mead in 1670, which anchored in English common law and U.S. jurisprudence the right of the jury to deliver verdicts from conscience without being punished, as well as our rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion.

On this day of celebration and commemoration, juror educators will create many fully informed jurors who understand and are prepared to act on the knowledge that:
● Jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts.
● Jurors have the right to deliver a general verdict and are not required to explain the reason for their verdict.
● Jurors have the legal authority and the ethical duty to consult their consciences and to render a just verdict, even if it requires setting aside the law and voting Not Guilty when strictly enforcing the law would be unjust.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.

Related Documentation
Complaint
Exhibit 1
Exhibit 2
Exhibit 3
Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction

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FIJA in the News & Jury Nullification & Media Releases | 20 Aug 2015

-Chief Judge Creates First Amendment-Free Zone in Denver

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Chief Judge Creates First Amendment-Free Zone in Denver

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIJA Logo with URL
CONTACT:

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

Helena, MT—Chief Judge Michael A. Martinez has issued an order trampling on the First Amendment and effectively suffocating freedom of speech in traditional public forums surrounding the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, Colorado. Dated August 14, 2015, the order has only come to the attention of the Fully Informed Jury Association after receiving pictures showing it posted on the courthouse doors.

IMG_1580

Judge Martinez’ draconian order imposes sweeping and apparently arbitrary restrictions against First Amendment activity in and around the courthouse, encompassing traditional public forums such as the plaza, walkways, and roadways outside the courthouse. Per the language of the order, the newly-created First Amendment-free zone includes “the areas, lawns, walkways, or roadways between the Courthouse and public sidewalks and roads; and any areas, walkways, or roadways that connect public sidewalks and roads to Courthouse entrances or exits.” It specifically includes “the Courthouse entrance plaza areas on the east and west sides of the Courthouse” as an area in which the First Amendment will be summarily nullified by judicial edict.

Moreover, the order applies to a long list of peaceful, expressive activities that have taken place for many years at this location, including “Demonstrating; picketing; protesting; marching; parading; holding vigils or religious services; proselytizing or preaching; distributing literature or other materials, or engaging in similar conduct that involves the communication or expression of views or grievances” among others.

“It is well-established that the First Amendment prohibits content-based restrictions on the free exercise of speech, which is exactly what Denver engaged in by arresting juror rights educators Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt in recent weeks. This Constitutionally deficient order cannot disguise the blatant viewpoint discrimination that Denver employed in these arrests,” said FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan.

Legal precedent in this matter is clear. It is legally impermissible for government restrictions on free speech in a public forum to be content-based. Additionally, time, place, and manner restrictions, if imposed, must be reasonable, narrowly-tailored, and there must be a compelling reason for imposing them, such as safety. Free speech restrictions implemented under the rubric of time, place, and manner restrictions may not be imposed simply to stamp out dissent or to provide legal cover for viewpoint discrimination by government.

A hearing regarding this issue along with a motion for injunction against further arrests of juror rights educators for sharing jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, August 21 at 2:00 pm in the Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse on the corner of 19th and Champa in Judge William Martinez’ courtroom. Photo ID is required for entry.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.

Related Documentation
Chief Judge Order Regarding Expressive Activities at Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, CJO 15-01
Photo of order being posted
Photo of page 1 of the order on the courthouse doors
Photo of page 2 of the order on the courthouse doors
Photo of page 3 of the order on the courthouse doors
Photo of entire order posted on the courthouse doors

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FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 19 Aug 2015

-Denver DA Creates Countless Fully Informed Jurors

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Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, with his erroneous charges and prosecution of juror rights educators Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt, is creating countless fully informed jurors. In just the last 24 hours, I have received Google alerts showing what a great job Morrissey is doing of getting the information we teach—previously only shared very locally at the courthouse—out to the wider Denver community.

Yesterday, The Denver Post Editorial Board published an opinion piece informing Denver residents that:

Jury nullification is not a crime, Denver

The district attorney’s office says the two arrested men were targeting actual jury pool members. Yet even if that were true, so what? If they were not advocating a specific course of action in a specific trial, how could they be guilty of trying “to influence a juror’s vote,” as Colorado’s law defines tampering?

Their jury nullification literature, as it happens, merely offered general statements, such as, “Juror nullification is your right to refuse to enforce bad laws and bad prosecutions.”

Four years ago, prosecutors in New York City charged a retired chemistry professor with jury tampering after he stood outside a federal courthouse handing out information on jury nullification. But Judge Kimba M. Wood of federal district court wouldn’t buy it. She ruled that prosecutors needed to show the protester meant to influence jurors in a specific case, and dismissed all charges.

Denver officials should be held to no less of a standard.

Click through for the entire editorial, which not only argues for our First Amendment right to share our literature, even with prospective jurors, but also acknowledges that jury nullification is a mainstream idea and legal to exercise as a juror—”not some crank theory concocted out of the blue”. (A couple of historical corrections needed in the article: John Peter Zenger and Andrew (not Alexander) Hamilton.)

Additionally, Mr. Morrissey has also managed to make this such a newsworthy event that it has been reported on television as well on the Denver CBS affiliate:

CBS4 in Denver, not only showed our Your Jury Rights: True or False? brochure to all its viewers, but also informed them that “Jury nullification is when a juror believes a defendant is guilty of a crime, but disagrees with the law and returns a not guilty verdict instead.”

If Mr. Morrissey’s intent was to keep jurors in the dark about their full, legal authority to conscientiously acquit via jury nullification, he is failing miserably. The simple fact is that putting this information in the media spreads it to FAR more people and MUCH faster than handing it out at courthouses.

Moreover, if Mr. Morrissey is so short-sighted as to fail to anticipate what will happen if he should push this all the way to trial by jury, it’s going to be interesting to see how a prosecutor is going to deal with what one imagines would certainly be a fully informed jury given that our literature would presumably be in evidence. What kind of rapport can an attorney establish with jurors who realize that his mission in that courtroom is not only to keep them, but ALL jurors, in the dark about their right to vote Not Guilty when they believe the law is unjust or that the prosecutor is unjustly abusing it in cases before them?

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Jury Nullification | 18 Aug 2015

-Witnesses Needed Regarding Protests at Denver Courthouse

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Yesterday FIJA and two other plaintiffs filed a complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction to bar the Denver Police Department from making additional arrests for handing out jury nullification information. After the two recent arrests of Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt for sharing such literature, we and other activists are chilled in our willingness and ability to do so, for fear of similarly being arrested for exercising our First Amendment-guaranteed rights. FIJA and Occupy Denver have tentative plans for a Jury Rights Day celebration on 4 September at the courthouse, assuming the injunction is successful, but WE NEED YOUR HELP to ensure that it is granted and that our rights are protected!

Our attorney, Mr. David Lane explains:

One extremely important topic we need to get witnesses for is whether or not the Lindsey-Flannigan plaza is a traditional forum for protests and leafleting. It is super important because there is bad case law saying that a public area which is not typically used for this sort of thing doesn’t have First Amendment protections like other areas traditionally used for this have. WE NEED WITNESSES WHO CAN TESTIFY ABOUT NUMEROUS PROTESTS WHICH HAVE OCCURRED AT THAT SITE… TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE as they need to be at the federal courthouse Friday afternoon.

Our hearing is scheduled for:

THIS Friday AT 2:00 pm
Arraj Federal Courthouse at 19th and Champa in Denver
Judge William Martinez’s courtroom
In order to gain entry you MUST have a photo ID with you.

As Mr. Lane emphasized to us, we have ONE shot only at winning this. Time is EXTREMELY short, and we need anyone who can testify as to the use of the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse plaza in Denver as a traditional forum for protests and leafleting to contact Mr. Lane immediately, preferably by email at mailto:DLane@kln-law.com or by phone at (303) 571-1000.

If you can serve as such a witness, please contact him IMMEDIATELY. Whether or not you can serve as a witness, please spread this request to your Colorado contacts as soon as possible. We need as much support on this as possible!

photo credit: Janet Matzen

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FIJA in the News & History of Jury Nullification & Jury Nullification & Media Releases | 17 Aug 2015

-FIJA Seeks Injunction Against Denver Arrests for Free Speech

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FIJA Seeks Injunction Against Denver Arrests for Free Speech

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIJA Logo with URL
CONTACT:

Kirsten Tynan
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org

Helena, MT—The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) has signed on as a plaintiff to a complaint seeking an injunction to bar the Denver Police Department from any further arrests at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse of juror rights educators handing out FIJA brochures and other jury nullification information. The complaint was filed today on behalf of FIJA and fellow plaintiffs Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen by Denver civil rights attorney David Lane of the firm Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP.

In light of recent arrests of and felony jury tampering charges leveled against juror rights educators Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt for handing out such information, FIJA is gravely concerned that the voices of juror rights educators are being chilled by threat of unjust arrest and fallacious “jury tampering” charges for general educational outreach.

“It is not surprising that government officials would fear jurors being fully informed about all the options available to them, including their right to conscientiously acquit by jury nullification. There’s clearly an incentive for a system whose lifeblood is a steady stream of convictions and mass incarceration to disempower jurors from delivering just verdicts by voting Not Guilty because the law itself or its application is unjust,” said FIJA Executive Director Kirsten Tynan.

“We fear for other juror rights educators being similarly endangered as Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt have been for exercising their First Amendment-guaranteed rights. The Supporting Affidavit for the arrest warrant in Mr. Brandt’s case is particularly worrying as it suggests that the Denver District Attorney’s office has determined that even the mere ‘language contained in the fliers’ constitutes jury tampering on its own,” said Tynan.

FIJA does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but merely seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

The FIJA national office plans to host a Jury Rights Day celebration on the plaza outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver this year, assuming it can be conducted safely without threat of arrest or charges.

Each year since 1991, FIJA has rallied juror rights educators nationwide for educational outreach at courthouses nationwide and other appropriate locations on and around September 5, known as Jury Rights Day. Jury Rights Day commemorates the famous jury nullification case of the trial of William Penn and William Mead in 1670, which helped ground in English common law the right of the jury to deliver verdicts from conscience without being punished, as well as our rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion. In 2014, FIJA listed 30 Jury Rights Day events, mostly at courthouses, which were held without any arrests reported to FIJA.

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 when strictly enforcing it would be unjust.

“While the Denver DA’s office seems intent on creating countless fully informed jurors nationwide with the publicity surrounding the erroneous arrests of and charges against Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt, we would really like everyone to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights to teach others about jury nullification without fear of being abused by police and prosecutors under color of law,” Tynan said.

About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, nonpartisan, educational organization headquartered in Helena, Montana. Focusing on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system, FIJA seeks to preserve the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law by informing everyone about their rights, powers and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts when serving as jurors. The organization does not advocate for or against any case in progress, but rather seeks to fully inform everyone of all their options when serving on juries. This includes the option to conscientiously acquit when a just verdict requires it by voting Not Guilty, even if they believe the law has technically been broken, without fear of punishment for their verdict.

FIJA’s national office conducts its campaign solely through educational outreach programs and materials. A variety of brochures and other materials are available for free download by anyone from the online Library or can be purchased through the online Media Catalog. Many juror rights educators use these brochures for general educational outreach at courthouses, at fairs and festivals, at public speaking engagements, and so on.

Related Documentation
Complaint
Exhibit 1
Exhibit 2
Exhibit 3
Motion for Preliminary Injunction

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Jury Nullification | 14 Aug 2015

-Are Your Jury Nullification Outreach Efforts Being Chilled in Denver?

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photo credit: Janet Matzen

photo credit: Janet Matzen

Call to All Colorado Juror Rights Educators

If you have been considering doing juror rights outreach in Denver, Colorado but your willingness to exercise your First Amendment-protected right to do so has been chilled due to the threat of arrest, especially in light of the recent arrests of Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt, we would like to hear from you ASAP (aji@fija.org or 406-442-7800)!

An injunction is being filed on Monday barring the Denver Police Department from arresting people for passing out jury nullification literature in the plaza area of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, and there is a short window during which such people can sign on as plaintiffs to the injunction. This would not cost them anything. We just want plaintiffs who actually want to pass out literature in front of the courthouse.

As Jury Rights Day is coming up on September 5, this would be a great time to plan a Jury Rights Day event, and get one of FIJA’s free event kits for it! We celebrate Jury Rights Day on September 5 each year in commemoration of the famous jury nullification case of William Penn in 1670, which not only firmly established the right of jurors to vote Not Guilty for any reason without punishment, but also helped ground freedom of speech in English common law and in United States jurisprudence.

While the Denver DA’s office seems intent on creating countless fully informed jurors nationwide with the publicity surrounding the erroneous arrests of and charges against Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt, we would really like everyone to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights to teach others about jury nullification without fear of being abused by police and prosecutors under color of law.

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