Juries

Jury Nullification Activist Can't Get Arrested in Orlando

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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.