by Tim Brown, Freedom Outpost:
A former pastor and father of eight children have been sentenced to eight weekends in jail for passing out pamphlets that inform people about jury nullification.
Keith Wood of Michigan was sentenced to eight weekends in jail, six months of probation, and fines for exercising a right that is supposed to be protected under the First Amendment.
Keith Wood gets 6 months of probation and 8 weekends in jail for distributing fliers outside Big Rapids courthouse in jury tampering case. pic.twitter.com/zLEPfEQtlp
— John Hogan (@JohnHoganWZZM) July 21, 2017
Fox 17 reported, “Last month, a jury of six found Keith Wood guilty convicting him of attempting to influence a jury in Mecosta County. Wood is a former pastor and father of eight who was initially charged with a five-year felony for obstructing justice and the one-year misdemeanor jury tampering.”
Prosecutors argued that Wood was trying to influence potential jurors before they heard a case against Andy Yoder, an Amish man who was accused of draining a wetland that was on his property.
Yoder took a plea deal that day and the case never went to trial. Wood said he did not know Yoder, and he only wanted to inform potential jurors that they had the right to vote their conscience over the law.
Now, understand that Wood was simply outside the Mecosta County courthouse passing out pamphlets on the sidewalk. That’s it.”He’s going straight to jail today,” said Judge Kimberly Booher, before Wood was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.
— John Hogan (@JohnHoganWZZM) June 1, 2017
How in the world is that jury tampering? Shouldn’t the judge have been advising the jury of their rights regarding nullification?
Claire Bernish has illustrated why educating the public on jury nullification is so important. She writes:
Jury nullification thus arguably acts as citizens’ access to checks and balances: When legislators craft worthless, harmful, inequitable, or just plain ‘bad’ laws, jurors can, in essence, refuse to enforce any punitive measures — refusing to find a person guilty of breaking a law that never should have been inked into the books.
This tool shines most prominently when used consistently to thwart oppressive policy. Illustrative of this principle is continued federal prohibition of cannabis and transformed public sentiment, as anti-marijuana propaganda falls apart at its politicized roots for the incarceration nightmare it created — among many others. Jurors faced with a choice in guilt of sending a nonviolent drug offender to prison might instead find the concept of incarcerating this petty ‘criminal’ who had done no harm to another unethical and ill-conceived — and choose instead a finding of not guilty to compensate for the unjust law.
But most judges refuse to or have strict rules against informing jurors about the little-known nullification right; so, Wood’s education activism, handing out pamphlets from the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), entitled “Your Jury Rights: True or False?” in front of the court in Big Rapids, led to a verdict of guilty for attempting to influence a jury in Mecosta County.
Shouldn’t this judge be aware of the right of Mr. Wood to pass out literature that gives this instruction?
“He’s going straight to jail today,” said Judge Booher, before Wood was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.
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