Fully Informed Jury Association

Are you fully informed about jury nullification?

Function of Juries & Jury Nullification | 15 Oct 2014

-Bucks County Wanted Jury Nullification Educators Arrested, Cops Refused

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Chris Daley threatens jury nullification educators with arrest

Bucks County official Chris Daley threatens jury nullification educators with arrest.

Thanks to reporter James McGinnis of the Bucks County Courier Times for coverage of local jury nullification educators’ most recent experience in which Bucks County Courthouse official Chris Daley attempted to have them arrested for exercising their First Amendment-protected rights on the public sidewalk adjacent to the courthouse. The public sidewalk has long been held by the Supreme Court to be a public forum for First Amendment activity, and apparently the Central Bucks Regional Police, who Daley called to arrest these educators, recognizes that a county policy manual cannot override the Constitution. (Be sure to check out the article today, as I understand it goes behind a paywall starting tomorrow.)

Bucks County wanted activists arrested, but cops refused

As documented in the five-minute video, Central Bucks Regional Police Sgt. Lance Carlen arrived on the scene to investigate county allegations of “criminal trespass” on public property.
In the video, Carlen shakes hands with Babb and Rumbold. He questions them briefly but refuses to arrest the pair.

It was the right call, Central Bucks Police Chief James Donnelly said Tuesday.

“Clearly, the public sidewalk is public property,” Donnelly told the newspaper. “County policy does not trump the U.S. Constitution.”

The newspaper contacted Daley seeking comment on the incident. Daley said he would only speak to media after consulting with the county’s public information office. Reached later that afternoon, Chris Edwards, county spokesman, said Daley would not be available to speak with the press.

A small correction is warranted regarding this statement in the article:

Babb and Rumbold are members of the group Fully Informed Jury Association, which argues for the increased power of juries. The group’s members argue that juries should be able to dismiss charges for “victimless crimes” such as drug use.

FIJA educates everyone that jurors ALREADY are able to nullify charges by voting Not Guilty whenever a just verdict requires it, even if the law has technically been broken. Such situations include when jurors believe the law is unjust or unjustly applied, if the penalty for the offense is unjustly severe, or if there are other mitigating circumstances that would make strictly enforcing the law unjust in the case at hand. Jurors in every single courtroom in the United States can do this RIGHT NOW, with the power they already have. Jurors need be granted no new power to do this.

We encourage all FIJA activists to learn and understand the strategy here. When public officials try to put us at a disadvantage by attempting to get us out of sight of the courthouse entrance, that is an opportunity we can turn into an advantage that will help us spread FIJA’s message even further. You can reach a certain number of people by handing out brochures, but you can reach FAR MORE people when your outreach gets local media coverage and is reported in publications that circulate to thousands or more people. Further, the more times and ways people encounter the issue, the more their curiosity is piqued to learn about it and the more their confidence grows in using the information it should they ever have the opportunity to do so.

Most importantly, FIJA activists should understand that they can assert their right to do this work without getting arrested. FIJA’s strategy and policy are to exercise peaceful forbearance and avoid getting arrested, as being arrested is not helpful to, and can be detrimental to, effective juror education. Government officials who want to get rid of us would like nothing more than to tarnish our message by putting a negative image of the messengers into the minds of the general public. Getting arrested is not only not necessary, but it plays into the pre-written script that government officials know very well how to leverage for their own purposes. On the other hand, challenging their unlawful orders through the public media, or civil, legal processes if necessary, are much harder for them to manipulate to their own ends.

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