Jury Nullification

Michigan Activist Sentenced to Jail for Distributing Pamphlet About Juror Rights

Keith Wood, who was convicted of jury tampering last month, argued that he was exercising his First Amendment rights.

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FIJA

Today a Michigan judge sentenced a local activist to eight weekends in jail, plus $545 in fines, 120 hours of community service, and six months of probation, for passing out jury nullification pamphlets in front of the Mecosta County courthouse. Keith Wood, a former pastor and father of eight, was arrested in November 2015 and convicted last month of jury tampering, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Wood, who distributed a pamphlet published by the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), was initially charged with obstruction of justice, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and held on $150,000 bail. The felony charge was dismissed in March 2016.

The remaining charge applies when someone "willfully attempts to influence the decision of a juror in any case by argument or persuasion, other than as part of the proceedings in open court in the trial of the case." The only case pending on the day Wood was arrested involved an Amish man named Andy Yoder who was accused of illegally filling a wetland on his own property. Yoder ended up pleading guilty, so no jury was ever chosen for his trial. But Wood testified that he had taken an interest in the case and ordered the FIJA pamphlets after hearing about it.

Wood's lawyer, David Kallman, who plans to appeal the conviction, argued that distributing the pamphlets, which contained general information about jurors' rights, was protected by the First Amendment. He emphasized that Wood never discussed Yoder's case with passers-by at the courthouse.

At Wood's sentencing, Kallman argued that jail time was inappropriate, while the prosecution recommended a sentence of 45 days. After Wood's arrest, Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede said the FIJA pamphlet is dangerous because "we would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience."

FIJA has more on the Wood case here.

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  1. 120 hours of community service

    Ironically, he was arrested for performing community service in the first place.

    1. Ironically, he was arrested for performing community service in the first place

      Maybe he can fulfill it by passing out pamphlets about the FIJA at the courthouse

  2. If I was him I would not stop telling them “fuck you”.

      1. ^animation of a real court transcript for the unenlightened.

        1. It was fan animation, but I can never figure out how they got the voice actor.

    1. And by “them” you mean the Reason squirrels?

      1. I’ll take that as a complement… Right?!?!

  3. Michigan Judge fails 1A…der.

  4. He was. He’ll lose. Fuck Judges.

  5. Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede said that the FIJA pamphlet is dangerous because “we would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.

    There’s something deeply unsettling about saying this. Even if I understand what he is getting at.

    1. It sounds like he’s saying Democracy leads to anarchy, but I suspect what he really meant was “jury nullification is teh badz because you ‘little people’ are too stupid to determine whether or not the law is just.” Or something like that.

    2. He is admitting to the cliche “when the government fears the people there is freedom”.

  6. The remaining charge applies when someone “willfully attempts to influence the decision of a juror in any case by argument or persuasion, other than as part of the proceedings in open court in the trial of the case.”

    So, no going to church during a trial, or taking any classes dealing with the law or morality?

  7. The remaining charge applies when someone “willfully attempts to influence the decision of a juror in any case by argument or persuasion, other than as part of the proceedings in open court in the trial of the case.”

    So, no attending church or taking law classes during the course of a trial?

  8. “we would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.”

    No, you’d just have a lot fewer laws.

    There’s really only a few basic laws – mostly various versions of “keep your hands to yourself” – and millions of rules and regulations. Laws are pretty universally recognized as the respect one human being owes another for the rights of an equally sovereign human being, rules and regulations are more like petty and arbitrary customs and manners.

  9. Oh, great. Now it looks like the skwirrelz are doing that thing where your comment doesn’t appear right away and you have to reload the page a couple of times before they show.

    1. I’m over here rubbing your comments on my SQRLSY nuts and thoroughly enjoying myself, taking my good ol’ time, and THEN I post your comments, when I’m damned good and ready!!!

  10. >>>”we would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.”

    queue the “guys, I’m scared” guy…

  11. Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede is clearly incompetent, and should be removed from office. Preferably by defenestration.

    1. Defenestration into the input hopper of a woodchipper.

    2. No, he’s totally competent for the tyrannical system of justice we have.

  12. Michigan. Isn’t that the state where a judge clearly admitted he was violating a Marine’s Constitutional rights, but still said “give up your guns, or give up your grandson”?

  13. actually the prosecutor is just afraid he might have to actually prove a case rather than offer poor people plea deals after scaring the shit out of them because they know that they can’t afford a good lawyer.

    1. Exactly.This! ^

  14. “we would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.”

    We should be more fearful of being a conscienceless nation in which people always side with the law.

  15. The ministry of truth has spoken.
    Take your rights and file them under extraneous.

    “The remaining charge applies when someone “willfully attempts to influence the decision of a juror in any case by argument or persuasion, other than as part of the proceedings in open court in the trial of the case.”
    So can anyone tell me the name of the juror whose decision was influenced? Anyone?

    1. It says “attempts to influence”, not just “influence”, but since no jury was chosen, there didn’t seem to be any jurors to try to influence.

  16. So is the act of jury nullification itself legal or not?

    1. Certainly as a private matter, a juror can simply maintain a vote of “not guilty” and leave it at that, making no other statement. It may not be popular, and the judge may even object, but a judge directing a vote oversteps his authority. This may not be a legal statement, but it is a morally proper one based on a premise of individual integrity.

    2. Several hundred years established precedent is that a jury member cannot be punished for the verdict rendered.

      On rare occasion a judge or prosecutor will try though.

    3. It’s legal in Georgia at least.

      Article I, Section I, Paragraph XI(a)

      http://www.senate.ga.gov/Docum…..tution.pdf

  17. we would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience

    I can’t decide if this is the scariest, saddest or stupidest statement that I have ever heard from a government official in a nation born of the Declaration of Independence and guided by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    1. there’s some truth to that statement though. Imagine if juries just convicted defendants because they felt in their heart the person was guilty, even though there was shit for evidence.

      1. Certainly that is a valid concern, but the judge, DA and cops would have to be in on the action too. Like SCOTUS, the jury is a bit of a final check on the power of the state. In the context of this article, I’ll stand by my statement, but you’re right that if it’s a complete railroading job of an unpleasant / unpopular defendant, even the jury is no guarantee against a false conviction.

      2. “Imagine if juries just convicted defendants because they felt in their heart the person was guilty, even though there was shit for evidence”

        “IF”?

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  19. When I last served jury duty I was subjected to an hour long propoganda session before we even entered the courtroom. Some random judge made us watch a video about how “fair” the process was and how prisons were no longer torture chambers. And then it felt like the judge was making a campaign pitch to us. It felt like an influence campaign to secure convictions.

  20. There were no jury trials at the time of his arrest, so he was arrested for tampering with no jury?

  21. It’s pretty clear that the judge was correct on the law but the statue is unconstitutional. On balance probably the best outcome for appeal to the federal court if they have the wherewithal. The prosecutor kinda makes the case.

    1. Statute.

    2. No, the judge was wrong on the law. There was no juror to be tampered with.

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