Yeterday a federal judge ruled that distributing pamphlets about jury nullification—even in front of a courthouse—is not jury tampering. U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood dismissed a 2010 indictment against Julian P. Heicklen, a retired chemistry professor who was accused of violating Title 18, Section 1504, of the U.S. Code, which authorizes a jail sentence of up to six months for anyone who “attempts to influence the action or decision of any grand or petit juror of any court of the United States upon any issue or matter pending before such juror, or before the jury of which he is a member, or pertaining to his duties, by writing or sending to him any written communication, in relation to such issue or matter.”
I wrote about Julian P. Heicklen’s situation last year. He was passing out pamphlets in front of a courthouse informing potential jurors about their right of nullification.
For those of you unaware jury nullification is a side effect of jury trials. Namely juries aren’t punished for their decision or asked to justify their ruling so they can find a defendant innocent based solely on the ground that the law he’s being tried for is unjust. Unfortunately this right of jurors is no longer covered in school and judges outright lie to jurors by telling them that they must rule based on the letter of the law, not what they think the law should be. Thankfully there are organizations like the Fully Informed Jury Association and individuals like Heicklen working to raise awareness of nullification rights.
Good on you Julian P. Heicklen for being an advocate of liberty and not backing down when the state threatened to throw you in a cage.