Friday, April 20, 2012

Jury nullification case dismissed

I just love that this guy -- fighting for his right to tell potential jurors to say not guilty -- was pro-se and won.  It really bothered me that the government charged him with a federal crime for protected speech.  From the Times:

The next time the 80-year-old retired chemistry professor takes his protest to the plaza outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan, he may make it home without being locked up.
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the dismissal of an indictment against the professor, Julian P. Heicklen, who had been charged with jury tampering for advocating the controversial position known as jury nullification while outside the courthouse.
Mr. Heicklen had repeatedly stood with a “Jury Info” sign and handed out brochures supporting nullification, the view that jurors who disagree with a law may ignore their oaths and vote to acquit a defendant accused of violating it.
Prosecutors said such advocacy, “directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.”
But the judge, Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court, wrote that a person violated the jury tampering statute only when he or she knowingly tried to influence a juror’s decision through a written communication “made in relation to a specific case pending before that juror.”
Judge Wood added that she would not “stretch the interpretation” of the statute to cover speech that was “not meant to influence” a juror’s actions in a specific case.
Mr. Heicklen expressed pleasure at the ruling. “Not just for me,” he said. “I think it’s a major decision for the country.”
He added: “This is better than having them throw me in jail.”
 Well said.  Well done Judge Wood.  The only thing better would have been a jury finding him not guilty....


Bob Becerra said...

I believe jury nullification is a right of every jury, and is well grounded in our liberal democratic traditions. I think the jury should be instructed by the Court on the power of nullification. The fact that this person was charged for advocating it outside a courthouse is an outrage.

Anonymous said...

Was there a particular law he wanted jurors to nullify? Also, America does not have liberal traditions, but it does have democratic traditions. There is a difference. I'm glad the indictment was dismissed.