Federal court frees man arrested for publicizing Jury Nullification outside court

Originally published at: Federal court frees man arrested for publicizing Jury Nullification outside court | Boing Boing

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I tried to figure out why he was freed; it sounded like a solid case to me. The ruling mentions that (1) he wasn’t trying to influence any particular case (2) he’d pulled this stunt before and wouldn’t research what cases were going on in the building at the time. Maybe that’s enough?

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I can hear this image.

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That was it exactly. The law says you can’t advocate for a particular outcome in an ongoing case. He wasn’t doing that. All he was doing was educating people to make them aware of nullification. He wasn’t saying they should use it for any specific case.

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Just like the guy handing out the flyers, here’s what you need to know about jury nullification.

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Given the slate of laws that have or will come into effect criminalizing abortion in the US, I wonder if nullification will become more of a thing?

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That’s an interesting thought. Can’t really enforce an unpopular law if juries keep finding people not-guilty.

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Officers of the law and the courts tend to hate nullification, though, because it undermines various elegant fantasies about the law that they identify with.

Judges also hate it because there’s really nothing they can do to potential jurors who bring it up but yell at them (and, boy howdy, do they yell).

Prosecutors hate it because they have to dance around it during voir dire, especially in drug cases.

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That’s why they’ve created citizen bounties. It’s extra-judicial and no one entity can be found culpable.

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The most famous nullification case is the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, charged with printing seditious libels of the Governor of the Colony of New York, William Cosby.

Curious that the Zenger Wikipedia page doesn’t mention jury nullification. I hadn’t realized that the plaintiff was Bill Cosby.

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For the jury nullification experts: how does one answer the voir dire question “is there anything that will prevent you from upholding the law”, If you believe that jury nullification can and should prevent you from upholding the law when it is wrong? Seems like a perjury trap, that the only way to get on a jury if you believe in nullification is to say something that avoids that truth.

Or if you believe that nullification is within the law.

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Is there a legit argument to be made that jury nullification upholds the law?

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I’ll let a lawyer answer that one.

I’m more the person who intentionally gets removed during voir dire…

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In my opinion, a defendant facing life in prison for possession of marijuana would be an excellent usage of this.

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The argument can be made that all laws must fall within the allowances and restrictions of the constitution, and the 8th amendment contains “… nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

A law that imposes any of those is itself illegal, jury nullification would represent upholding the higher law over the lesser law.

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Exactly. Jury nullification is part of the law.

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The compromise has been that judges and lawyers in a case don’t have to inform jurors that nullification is a legal option for them when considering their verdict. When that arrangement is upended by a fellow like this standing on the courtroom steps or by a juror who brings it up (respectfully, not contemptuously) during voir dire they basically go nuts.

If my one experience is anything to go by, I don’t have to do anything except answer questions honestly for at least one attorney to realise I’ll be poison to their case in the jury room.

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Sure. I’m not suggesting someone wear a “Ask me about Jury Nullification” t-shirt to jury duty. Just that iif you answer “yes” that you will uphold the law, that you can still practice jury nullification as a juror.

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I’ll suggest that! That would be hilarious

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