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Garry Reed's picture

Legal establishment continues abuse of power against free speech

The battle between rights advocates who want to inform fellow citizens of their jury nullification powers and the legal establishment that wants to keep all juries ignorant and controlled rages on.

The issue is a simpleone: juries have a right to judge the morality and application of a law and render a not guilty verdict even if the accused broke the law in question while judges and prosecutors demand that only the letter of the written law be considered. Many judges, as well as prosecutors and cops, take the law into their own hands and use their positions of power to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

One of the latest examples of this practice was branded by Attorney Dave Kallman in Mecosta County, Michigan as "a blatant illegal and improper use of government power to squelch a person's Constitutional rights of free speech."

Kallman's client, Keith Wood, was standing on the public sidewalk of the Mecosta County courthouse on November 24 distributing Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) pamphlets about jury nullification when he was arrested for felony obstruction of justice and jury tampering and held under a $150,000 bond.

A deputy had given him the choice of being arrested or talking to the judge. Inside the courthouse he was assured that he wasn't being detained until Mecosta County District Judge Peter Jaklevic suddenly had Wood arrested for jury tampering. Wood charged $15,000 to his credit card to post bond and refused a plea bargain. At this writing Kallman is suing the judge for violation of free speech.

The battle against legalism – the strict adherence to prescriptive, authoritarian law – is nationwide. A lengthy article from the Colorado Statesman dated November 10 details the ongoing freedom of speech battle between the legal establishment and the citizens who must live under the laws written and imposed on them by the legal establishment.

Veteran jury rights activist Jim Babb was peacefully distributing FIJA pamphlets on public property in October when the Ocean County, New Jersey Sheriff's Department forced him to relocate, then detained him, then took down personally-identifying information, then banished him from the courthouse environs under threat of jury tampering charges.

Mark Schmidter, a longtime Florida FIJA activist, spent 104 days in jail in 2013 for pamphleting and for not being in a "free speech zone" while pamphleting all because Judge Belvin Perry didn't like the content of the speech contained in his pamphlets. Schmidter is still pamphleting today as are many other determined libertarians.

Both Babb and Schmidter worked at one time with Julian Heicklen, the "Godfather of Jury Rights Outreach" and their earlier abuses by the legal establishment are well documented in "Tyranny Fighters: The Julian Heicklen Chronicles.

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