Prosecutor: Advocating jury nullification ‘not protected by the First Amendment’

 

Flashback: Jury Nullification : Peers Refuse to Convict Disabled Vet in Pot Bust

 

 

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
    
Two men pose in the jury section of a children's theatre festival. Photo: Flickr user Kaja.A.

Advocating for a controversial legal tactic known as jury nullification can get U.S. citizens prosecuted for jury tampering, according to one Manhattan prosecutor who’s pursuing that very charge against a 79-year-old former chemistry professor.

 

Indicted last year, all Julian P. Heicklen says he was doing is handing out pamphlets from the Fully Informed Jury Association near a courthouse. He wasn’t targeting any specific jury or juror, and his activism has taken him to dozens of courthouses around the country, according to The New York Times.

 

Manhattan prosecutor Rebecca Mermelstein argued in a recent court filing examined by the paper that because he hoped to “target prospective jurors,” he was tampering with the legal process.

 

“I’m not telling you to find anybody not guilty,” he allegedly told an undercover officer. “But if there is a law you think is wrong then you should do that.”

 

Essentially, he’s right: Jury nullification is the right of citizens to nullify the application of laws the feel are unjust. During alcohol prohibition, nearly 60 percent of trials were nullified by jurors. Nullification was often used in cases involving the Alien and Sedition and Fugitive Slave Acts, but it was also common in the South, where it was used to stymie civil rights trials.

 

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/29/prosecutor-jury-nullification...

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Comment by Terry Bain on February 13, 2012 at 11:41pm

"Ron Paul...is a notable supporter of jury nullification" Info Here

Comment by Daniel Seigler on November 30, 2011 at 12:04pm

First, 'jury nullification' is NOT a matter of free speech, it is the job of the court to notify the jury that they CAN nullify the Law, not individual's charges as this article portrays.  As the courts no long do notify the jury, it is left to the citizen to educate himself and others.

Comment by Shannon McDowell on November 29, 2011 at 8:38pm

Wow, I honestly did not think we had a First Amendment at all now, given the state of current "laws" that practically ban the Constitution in practice.

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