Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Jury Nullification & Volunteer | 14 Oct 2014

-Volunteer Educators Will Offer FIJA Literature On Jury Nullification Near Bucks County Courthouse


FIJA Logo with URL14 October 2014

Volunteer Educators Will Offer
FIJA Literature On Jury Nullification
Near Bucks County Courthouse

CONTACT: (610) 574-1222; jamesbabb@mac.com

Doylestown, PA—On October 21 at 7:30 am, juror rights educators will peacefully exercise their First Amendment-protected rights in support of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments. They will share free jury nullification information from the Fully Informed Jury Association on the public sidewalk adjacent to Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown, PA. This day of outreach follows successful outreach on October 6, when local police declined to make the volunteers leave, despite repeated harassment from courthouse employees.

“Pennsylvania has a strong legacy of free speech activism, beginning with its founder,” says juror rights educator James Babb. “In 1670, when William Penn was charged with illegally addressing a group of Quakers, the jury refused to convict him. Despite considerable pressure from the judge, the jury understood their right to vote their conscience and nullify an unjust law. 344 years later, jurors still retain this right, and some judges still don’t like it,” Babb said.

When volunteers kicked off the campaign in July, officials sought to make them leave, citing anti-solicitation rules. Since they were merely offering free jury nullification brochures to passersby, however, the volunteers were not soliciting. Upon explaining this to the official trying to send them away, the volunteers were left to continue their work that day.

Educators again hosted outreach in September as part of FIJA’s annual Jury Rights Day celebration. This time an official threatened them with arrest if they didn’t leave, suggesting they would be charged with disorderly conduct for peacefully offering free jury nullification literature to passersby. Not wishing to be arrested, volunteers exercised peaceful forbearance and left, with the intention of returning after investigating the legality of this verbal order.

“Such behavior by public employees is particularly disappointing in Pennsylvania,” said Kirsten Tynan, executive director of the Fully Informed Jury Association. “Jury Rights Day commemorates jurors’ refusal to convict William Penn for publicly preaching against the order of the king. Penn’s case firmly established in English common law, not only jurors’ right to conscientiously acquit by jury nullification, but also freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly that would later be enumerated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Pennsylvania employees dishonor their history when they attempt to undermine the very same rights that William Penn stood firmly in defense of throughout his life,” Tynan said.

On October 3, volunteers returned to the courthouse, this time having researched the legal basis officials claimed for violating their rights. Volunteers received a page of an unidentified Security manual that relegated petitioning and protesting to a “free speech zone” in a remote corner of the courthouse campus. As they were engaging in neither activity, juror educators again chose to work on the public sidewalk where they had been before. Bucks County Security Division director Chris Daley aggressively harassed them, incorrectly accusing them of petitioning, demanding they not record him in the course of his tax-paid, official capacity, and subsequently calling local police.

“Never in a million years would I have thought I would have been detained and investigated for ‘trespassing’ on a public sidewalk for the peaceful act of handing out juror rights flyers to those who wished to take them,” said juror rights educator Andrew Rumbold.

Fortunately, Sgt. Lance Carlen of the Central Bucks Regional Police Department checked into the matter before going so far as to forcefully remove volunteers who, he later acknowledged, were acting lawfully. He determined from Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Weintraub that they were free to do what they were doing in their selected location.

In hopes of finally being allowed to conduct educational outreach without being bullied now that they have video documentation that courthouse officials have been instructed they are allowed to be there, juror educators will hold another day of outreach on October 21. They hope to make significant progress in educating everyone throughout Bucks County 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
FIJA is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to informing the public about their rights and responsibilities as jurors in delivering just verdicts. The organization publishes and distributes educational literature, organizes and assists volunteers in local outreach, offers educational programs, and maintains a web site at FIJA.org to inform the general public of their traditional, legal authority to protect human rights by refusing to enforce bad laws. FIJA encourages all jurors to consult their consciences when deliberating over a case and to refuse to enforce any law that violates human rights.

Additional Information:
-FIJA’s Fresh Air for Justice Brochure
-FIJA’s True or False Brochure

Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests from the ACLU

May I distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks without a permit?

Yes. You may approach pedestrians on public sidewalks with leaflets, newspapers, petitions, and solicitations for donations without a permit. These types of free speech activities are legal as long as entrances to buildings are not blocked and passers-by are not physically and maliciously detained. However, a permit may be required to set up tables or other physical structures.