Fully Informed Jury Association

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FIJA in the News & Function of Juries & History of Jury Nullification & Jury Nullification | 14 Aug 2015

-Jury Nullification Case is First Amendment Issue

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photo credit: Janet Matzen

photo credit: Janet Matzen

We understand that the Denver District Attorney will be subpoenaed in connection with the recent arrests of two juror rights educators in Denver, Colorado. Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt have been charged with seven counts each of alleged jury tampering, simply for distributing information on jury nullification. Iannicelli and Brandt are being harassed by the Colorado district attorney’s office for exercising their freedom of speech, which is supposedly guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Defense in Jury Nullification Case will Subpoena Denver DA

As this is seen as yet another case that is described as an ongoing law enforcement challenge to the First Amendment of the Constitution against area activists, Iannicelli was in court on Tuesday, and Brandt appeared on Wednesday to express that they intend to move their cases forward. The cases are expected to be combined with both Heymann and civil rights attorney David Lane as defense counsel.

In an initial appearance by Brandt on Wednesday, Lane opened with a statement to Denver County Court Magistrate Judge Kate Boland:

“Your honor this is classic First Amendment protected speech. [Iannicelli and Brandt] were not targeting any specific person. They were not targeting any specific case. They were not targeting any specific ideology. People going into the building were being given pamphlets by Mr. Iannicelli and Mr. Brandt. That is the definition of First Amendment protected free speech.”

Lane later told KGNU why he decided to take the case,
“[Brandt] is a political prisoner. He is being incarcerated for his sign saying, ‘F…CK THE COPS,’ he has now been incarcerated for passing out literature in front of the Denver courthouse. That is the quintessential idea of free speech. But Mitch Morrissey’s District Attorney thugs and their police officers that enforce these unconstitutional commands of his, are turning this into a police state. Vladimir Putin would be proud.”

KGNU’s report provides some insight as to why the District Attorney’s office might be particularly fearful at this time of the prospect of having to prove cases before fully informed jurors, aware of their right to conscientiously acquit via jury nullification:

Recent local cases could be used as examples of dumbing down the jury pool as well. During jury selection for a July 29, 2015 trespassing trial involving human rights activist Caryn Sodaro, Judge Nicole M. Rodarte added an atypical question of the potential jurors, the wording of which was carefully constructed prior to jury selection, “Were you approached by anyone who handed you information on your way to jury duty?” Prosecutors at that trial had complained to the judge about the FIJA pamphlets and wanted any potential juror who had received one to be removed from the selection process. During questioning about juror exposure to the literature, only one juror said that he was approached but that he declined to accept the information. Incidentally, that juror was excused from jury selection.

Previous coverage of this case:
Denver DA Doubles Down on Jury Nullification Arrests
Updates on Mark Iannicelli Arrest for Jury Nullification Education
Man Sharing Jury Nullification Information Arrested in Denver

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