Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification & Volunteer | 10 Oct 2014

-Jury Rights Educators Stand Firm at Pennsylvania Courthouse

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GavelIconA big congratulations to volunteer juror educators James Babb and Andrew Rumbold for successfully asserting their First Amendment right to express themselves in support of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments.

Repeatedly over the course of some months now, Bucks County Courthouse officials have attempted to bully juror educators who have been handing out Fully Informed Jury Association brochures to passersby in a general educational outreach effort to fully inform everyone of jurors’ full authority to judge the law as well as the facts in a case before them. On one occasion, officials tried to use anti-solicitation rules to get rid of them. Unfortunately for the bullies, handing someone a piece of FIJA literature for free is not “solicitation”. On another occasion, they were said to be “trespassing”. In this instance, county Security department head Chris Daley tries to relegate them to a “free speech zone” in a distant corner of the courthouse campus far from traffic coming and going from the main entrance. However, these educators had already gotten a copy of the county Security policy on the free speech zone, and it only applies to petitioning and protesting. Moreover, it is not clear that the public sidewalk, a public right-of-way within the town of Doylestown, is even county property to which the county Security manual would be applicable, or whether or not county bureaucrats can simply invent new rules in contradiction to Supreme Court precedent that clearly identifies public sidewalks as a traditional forum for First Amendment activity of this type. Check out this video for a nice lesson in how to assert your rights as a jury educator without being arrested:

FIJA’s outreach strategy is that if courthouse officials or others try to impose unacceptable limits that impede our educational work, we do NOT try to get arrested. An arrest is not helpful to spreading FIJA’s message, but rather plays into the script pre-written by the government to try and discredit jurors’ right of conscientious acquittal by associating it with law-breaking in the eyes of the general public. So our strategy is NOT to get arrested, but rather to pursue other channels besides criminal court that are more advantageous for challenging unlawful orders, such as making these unlawful commands very publicly visible.

As juror educators, we seek to do three things:
1. Inform as many people as possible of the information about which jurors are not informed or are outright misinformed in court.
2. Pique their curiosity and encourage them to learn more about it than we can tell them in a 1-2 minute interaction.
3. Persuade them that jury nullification is a valid option, if one day they serve as a juror in a case where they are guided by their conscience that Not Guilty is a just verdict, even if the law has technically been broken.

When courthouse officials try to chase us away, they have made a huge mistake that we can use in support of our goals. By exercising peaceful forbearance in not getting arrested while still working through other channels, we can both assert our First Amendment right to do this educational work AND amplify the signal and spread our message much further by engaging the media in our story. This story is a perfect case in point:
Jury Rights Activists Refuse To Back Down

If you are conducting courthouse outreach and are getting pushback from local government officials or those hired by them to do security work, please feel free to get in touch with us in the FIJA National office at 406-442-7800 or aji@fija.org. We do not have lawyers on staff, nor do we give legal advice. However, we can share with you our observations of how to turn officials’ efforts to impede your work into an advantage that will help you spread the message further.

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