From: Prison Planet
J. D. Heyes
Jury nullification, a legal concept that dates back to 17th century England, remains perfectly lawful in the United States, according to a ruling by a federal judge last month.
U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood said 80-year-old Julian Heicklin, who was arrested by FBI agents for passing out pamphlets marked “Jury Info” from an organization known as theFully Informed Jury Associationto an undercover agent, was within his legal rights under law to do so. Prosecutors had argued that Heicklin was in violation of U.S. law, which prohibits influencing jurors through written communication.
“Heicklen advocates passionately for the right of jurors to determine the law as well as the facts,” Wood wrote. “The pamphlets state that a juror has not just the responsibility to determine the facts of a case before her on the basis of the evidence presented, but also the power to determine the law according to her conscience.”
Jurors can be told about nullification, not about how to decide a specific case
Wood said Heicklen well understood his legal rights, and noted that Title 18 United States Code, which government lawyers cited in their prosecution, prevents trying to influence a juror in relation to specific cases or points of law. Heicklen was not doing that, Wood said.
“The statute thus prohibits a defendant from trying to influence a juror upon any case or point in dispute before that juror by means of a written communication in relation to that case or that point in dispute,” the 27-page order says.
“It also prohibits a defendant from trying to influence a juror’s actions or decisions pertaining to that juror’s duties, but onlyifthe defendant made that communication in relation to a case or point in dispute before that juror,” the order continues. “The statute therefore squarely criminalizes efforts to influence the outcome of a case, but exempts the broad categories of journalistic, academic, political, and other writings that discuss the roles and responsibilities of jurors in general, as well as innocent notes from friends and spouses encouraging jurors to arrive on time or to rush home, to listen closely or to deliberate carefully, but with no relation to the outcome of a particular case.” MORE