NY judge tosses out jury nullification charges
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
From that article, quoting:
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge threw out charges Thursday against a man who urged jurors in multiple East Coast cities from Florida to New Hampshire to sometimes disregard the law and vote their conscience.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan tossed the case against Julian Heicklen, saying the First Amendment protects speech concerning judicial proceedings as long as the speech doesn’t prevent fair and impartial justice. She noted that the essence of the First Amendment is that falsehoods are better exposed through discussion than through suppression.
Heicklen, a retired chemistry professor, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for repeatedly handing out pamphlets to people outside a lower Manhattan courthouse near the World Trade Center site between October 2009 and May 2010, urging a practice known in legal circles as jury nullification.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Mermelstein had reminded Wood during oral arguments last month that Heicklin also has regularly distributed pamphlets in front of federal courthouses in Philadelphia, Boston, Tampa, Fla., Alexandria, Va., Concord, N.H., Springfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Albany and White Plains in New York state. She called him a “significant threat” to the integrity of the judicial system.
Wood wrote that Heicklen did not violate the law by handing out pamphlets discussing the role of juries in society and urging jurors to follow their consciences regardless of instructions on the law. She said the law would be violated only if Heicklen tried to influence the action or decision of a juror on a specific case pending before that juror.
Read the rest of the story at AP: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_JURY_NULLIFICATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
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