06 August 2015

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

In Denver, a man started handing out fliers to people entering the courthouse explaining their rights as a juror.

It turns out that, even though a judge will not allow it to be argued in court, that jurors are free to vote their own conscience, invalidating unjust laws and ignoring judge's instructions.* (See here)

Prosecutors just charged him with 7 felony counts of jury tampering:
A Denver man has been charged with multiple felonies after he was caught distributing fliers to educate potential jurors about the practice of “jury nullification.”

The Denver Post reported that 56-year-old Mark Iannicelli set up a small booth with a sign reading “Juror Info” outside the Lindsay-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver last week. The Denver District Attorney’s Office charged Iannicelli with seven counts of jury tampering after members of the jury pool were found to be in possession of fliers describing jury nullification.

Jury nullification allows juries to acquit a defendant who they may believe is guilty if they also believe that the law is unjust. The practice has been used by juries in the United States since the 1800s to nullify anti-free speech laws and laws punishing northerners for helping runaway slaves. It has most recently been used in drug cases when juries have viewed laws as discriminatory.

A copy of the criminal complaint obtained by Kirsten Tynan of the Fully Informed Jury Association says that Iannicelli “unlawfully and feloniously attempted directly and indirectly to communicate with” seven jurors.

A probable cause statement added that Iannicelli was accused of “handing out information to potential jurors.”

Tynan pointed out that the complaint “does not accuse Mr. Iannicelli of advocating for or against any case in progress” and “it does not accuse Mr. Iannicelli even of targeting individuals for sharing information with them.”
This is complete bullsh%$, and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

Any Colorado lawyers out there who wants to throw a complaint to the Bar Association?

*See the John Peter Zenger libel case from 1735, where the jury ignored the law and said that the truth is an absolute defense against libel, and William Penn's acquittal for unlawful assembly (even though the judge threatened the jury when they refused to acquit).


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