Jury Nullification Activist Can't Get Arrested in Orlando

Feisty jury nullification activist Julian Heicklen, a 79-year-old former chemistry professor, is facing federal charges of jury tampering up in New York for the act of handing out pamphlets advocating the power and responsibility of juries to judge the law as well as the facts (that is, to acquit if they think a law is unjust even if they think a defendent violated that law).

But his attempts to get arrested again for violating Judge Belvin Perry's ban on nullification pamphleteering near his courthouse in Orlando have so far failed. He's violated the order, but no one's arrested him.

From an Orlando Sentinel account:

The retired chemistry professor traveled from his home in New Jersey to the Orange County Courthouse just to defy an order by Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry, prohibiting the distribution of jury information pamphlets to jurors.

Once on Friday and twice on Monday, Heicklen, 79, stood at the foot of the courthouse and handed out the literature, which encouraged jurors to vote their conscience and to "hang" a jury with their votes if they felt so inclined.

On Monday, he repeatedly handed the pamphlets to prospective or seated jurors. And on one occasion, he handed the "jury rights" information to a man wearing a juror's badge within a few feet of an Orange County deputy.

That act seemed to be a clear violation of Perry's order committed right in front of one of the officials responsible for enforcing the dictate, but nothing was done to stop Heicklen's obvious defiance. And for that reason Heicklen proudly claimed a victory.

"This is a win!" Heicklen said after handing out the last of his pamphlets. "I'm not here to get arrested. I'm here to get my First Amendment rights back for you people."

I've blogged about Heicklen's legal troubles here, and here.

And I've blogged about Judge Belvin's ridiculous order.

The Fully Informed Jury Association is challenging the Belvin order on First Amendment grounds with the help of the Florida ACLU.

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  • anarch||

    Video of Heicklen:

     <embed type='application/x-shockwave-flash' salign='l' flashvars='&titleAvailable=true&playerAvailable=true&searchAvailable=false&shareFlag=N&singleURL=http://orlandosentinel.vidcms.trb.com/alfresco/service/edge/content/767e77e4-4b5e-4a2c-bc74-8cea3eba0c50&propName=orlandosentinel.com&hostURL=http://www.orlandosentinel.com&swfPath=http://orlandosentinel.vid.trb.com/player/&omAccount=tribglobal&omnitureServer=orlandosentinel.com' allowscriptaccess='always' allowfullscreen='true' menu='true' name='PaperVideoTest' bgcolor='#ffffff' devicefont='false' wmode='transparent' scale='showall' loop='true' play='true' pluginspage='http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer' quality='high' src='http://orlandosentinel.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf' align='middle' height='450' width='300'></embed>

    *ahem*

  • Brian Doherty||

    It's gone now, thanks.

  • anarch||

    Politics makes estranged embed, Fellows.

  • Warty||

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  • Zeb||

    Nice. People just don't boo enough these days.

  • Gov. Walker||

    It's making a comeback.

  • Brian Combs||

    I was saying Boo-urns.

  • anarch||

    You're just jealous of my naturally curly hair.

    *flounces

  • Colin||

    It'll be interesting if he ever faces a trial. For wouldn't the jurors then be exposed to information about jury nullification? Wouldn't he, in fact, be tampering with his own jury -- resulting in further charges?

    Charges that could continue on and on infinitely?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You just broke the justice system.

  • ||

    Sweet.

  • H man||

    Wasn't that a Star Trek episode?

  • Spock||

    Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.

  • ||

    That's from Aristotle's Organon, right?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    This is FULL of Sheen!

  • Tulpa||

    It's not hard to keep the jury from being contaminated. They can just bind and gag him at the trial and smack him across the head with a wooden pole if he starts murmuring anything. Like my mom used to do to me.

  • Juice||

    Now this is what you call successful civil disobedience.

    Congratulations, Prof. Heicklen. You are a hero.

  • ||

    We need more like him. I'd settle for 51% of the voting age population.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    "Feisty jury nullification activist" is redundant.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    "Feisty jury nullification activist" is redundant.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Nothing worse than repeating yourself.

  • ||

    Seems to me the judge is the domestic enemy of the Constitution that all service members are sworn to defend against. Also seems that he has forgotten his own oath so he is both a liar and a traitor to the Constitution.

  • ||

    If we had a justice system, he'd be doing time for his attack on Professor Heicklen's civil rights. At the very least, he should be bounced off the bench and out of the legal profession for this. Let him go wherever the hell that Nifong asshole went.

    -jcr

  • Jeff P||

    There used to be a common law statute that said if city or town did not enforce a standing law, then the law was void. It was used to sidestep all those ridiculous "can't chew gum on Sunday" and "can't mock a duck in Latin" rules that lay fallow for decades.

  • omg||

    Unfortunately, states didn't enforce that law, so it had to off itself.

  • ||

    A common law statute?

  • Pedant||

    The word you're looking for is desuetude.

  • jtuf||

    Hooray for Heicklen and his tyranny fighters.

  • ||

    This is what I'm going to do when I retire.

  • ||

    Can lack of enforcement of a judgement be considered a precedent from which to base further litigation?

  • Name Nomad||

    Well, it's worked for most of the Constitution.

  • ||

    Seems like Belvin was surprised at how many people are screaming for his head after his boneheaded attack on the first amendment. At this point, it looks like he just wants to pretend it never happened.

    Incidentally, the Free Staters have a bill in the legislature to require judges to inform juries of their powers: http://www.nhliberty.org/bills/view/2011/HB146

    -jcr

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    That is awesome, lets hope it passes. It's nice to see the Free Staters making an positive impact in their adopted state.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, I don't quite get the outrage here. First, whatever your views on jury nullification, it's illegal. Juries are only to judge the facts, not their opinion on the law.

    Second, the judge issued an order prohibiting Heicklen's activities. He was arrested for violating that order as he's allegedly in contempt.

    Now, there may be a good 1st Amendment argument against the judge's order, but it's not clear such an order is unconstitutional. Judge's have broad discretion to insure a fair trial within constitutional guidelines, including restricting freedom of speech.

    But let's not confuse any 1st Amendment objections with the fact that jury nullification is illegal, despite whatever anyone else here thinks the law should be regarding juries.

  • db||

    Could you please explain, specifically, which statutes, in which jurisdictions, prohibit jury nullification?

  • ||

    D'oh! Don't post while drunk! He wasn't arrested. But the basic point still stands, he's in legal jeopardy for his activism. There might be a 1st Amendment argument, but it doesn't validate jury nullification.

  • puma pas cher||

    I see

  • ||

    First, whatever your views on jury nullification, it's illegal. Juries are only to judge the facts, not their opinion on the law.

    Funny, I thought juries were there to give a verdict - Guilty, Not Guilty, that sort of thing. I don't know how, really, you give a verdict without making some sort of judgment or evaluation of the law.

    Judges are there to facilitate the trial - give rulings on legal issues, that sort of thing.

    I'm not sure when or where it happened that juries were prohibited from giving verdicts the judge disagrees with.

    I would be very interested in seeing the statute that says juries are prohibited, and jury members may be punished, if they consider the law in addition to the facts when issuing a verdict.

  • Kirsten||

    Perhaps the reason the order wasn't enforced is because the Fifth District Court of Appeals has issued an Order to Show Cause regarding Perry's order in our case:
    http://199.242.69.70/pls/ds/ds.....archType;=

  • Kirsten||

    I guess the link won't post properly, but you can look it up yourself on the Fifth District Court of Appeals' website:
    http://www.5dca.org/

    by clicking on On-Line Dockets at the top. The case number is 5D11-708.

  • ||

    Uh-oh...the ACLU again. Those commies sure are clever, disguising themselves as real 'mericans an all.

  • ||

    Let's see that Mr. Heicklen is given the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts in exposing the huge con being perpetrated on our citizens!

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