Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

FIJA in the News | 30 Oct 2013

-Corrections to Washington Post Article on DC Jury Nullification Ads

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

Billboard advocating jury nullification concerns local prosecutors

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

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

Click through for the entire article.

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

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

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

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

-Kirsten Tynan

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