There is a highly disturbing criminal case out of Mecosta, Michigan where Keith Wood, 39, has been charged with a felony for obstruction of justice and misdemeanor of tampering with a jury. His felonious conduct? Passing out fliers about jury nullification rights on the sidewalk of the Mecosta County courthouse. The fliers from the Fully Informed Jury Association describe juror rights that some complain are omitted by judges and prosecutors in explaining jury service before trial.
For the purposes of full disclosure, I served as counsel to the Rocky Flats grand jury which was criminally investigated for going public with their allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and a cover-up of crimes committed at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado. Click here and here. It was the first grand jury to be represented by private counsel in history and led to years of litigation seeking the release of the report quashed by the Justice Department.
The association prints fliers on various juror rights and powers. The organization posts its purposes:
FIJA works to:
• Inform potential jurors of their traditional, legal authority to refuse to enforce unjust laws
• Inform potential jurors that they cannot be required to check their consciences at the courthouse door
• Inform potential jurors that they cannot be punished for their verdicts
• Inform everyone that juror veto—jury nullification—is a peaceful way to protect human rights against corrupt politicians and government tyranny
Many courts have rules against lawyers arguing for jury nullification. The case law in this area is sketchy. There is no question that jury nullification has long been recognized as a historical element of the jury system. Indeed, in 1895 in Sparf v. United States, Justice John Marshall Harlan, wrote a 5-4 opinion saying that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws. It was a controversial decision since courts have recognized the existence of this right while penalizing anyone who tells the jury about it. See e.g., U.S. v. Moylan, 417 F.2d 1002 (4th Cir.1969); United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113 (D.C. Cir. 1972).
Putting aside the accuracy of such fliers (which I have not reviewed), this would seem to be an exercise of free speech by a citizen opposing what he views as governmental injustice. Now, after posting an absurdly high bond of $150,000, he is facing a five-year felony with up to $10,000 in fines, and attempting to influence jurors is a one-year misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000.
What do you think?
71 thoughts on “Michigan Man Charged With Felony For Passing Out Leaflets On Juror Rights In Front Of Courthouse”
Skeptic: You can tell the jury how to rule but the judge can not tell them rules of law which are incorrect. He can tell them to follow the law and you can tell them to follow their hearts and minds. But not their farts.
1, December 3, 2015 at 10:09 pm
Thanks for posting this excellent video, Hildegard.
In addition to saving me the time and trouble of rebutting The skeptic’s specious argument, the presentation of the historical background of jury nullification was highly educational.
The skeptic; Your comment falls into the “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing” category. We can probably all use a little more knowledge on this subject.
Rich Vail – “Tar & Feathers for the idiots .. ” Yes! Bring back tarring and feathering. LOVE the idea.
5 Myths of Tarring and Feathering (From Journal of the American Revolution)
So, what would it cost to do a mass mailing to everyone in Big Rapids, MI, informing them of their powers as jurors, and advising them that Jaklevic attempted to suppress this information?
John C. Randolph; “So, what would it cost to do a mass mailing..” Great question. What we need is just more activism period; an army of young, strong, daring truth seekers and spreaders. Or old and strong….just strong damn it. We’re on our own kids. Time to stop wishing “they” would do something. They’re not going to.
The first amendment protects the right to seek redress, not just freedom of speech. This is clearly covered. Everyone forgets about the freedom of assembly and right to seek redress, but they are core first amendment rights.
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