Will 'eternal publicity' mean justice for jury rights advocate?

Garry Reed's picture

New Jersey Libertarian Party candidate and jury nullification advocate Julian Heicklen is fond of saying, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. The price of justice is eternal publicity."

Heicklen, whose Monday court appearance for "jury tampering" (the act of handing FIJA pamphlets to people in public) has been indefinitely postponed, is generating plenty of publicity.

The Economist published a lengthy article about Heicklen and the philosophy behind jury nullification and concluded this way: "Had prosecutors ignored Mr. Heicklen he would likely have been just one more crank with a cause. Instead he is starting to look like a hero. As Mr. Heicklen noted earlier this year, when it comes to jury nullification – a potentially awesome power about which most people know nothing – 'bad publicity is better than no publicity.'"

This latter sentiment was graphically illustrated in an attack article from a pair of lawyers, Joel Cohen and Katherine A. Helm, at Law.com.

Their argument, in essence, is that "The Law," like "The Bible," is sacrosanct and must never be questioned by jurors since it was passed down to us mere mortals by the god of law known as "The Court."

"Simply put," they pontificate, "it is a juror's duty to take the law from the court" and to "take an oath to uphold the law."

But libertarians see "The Law" as merely one means toward seeking justice, and that law doesn't come down to us from any court, it goes up to our courts from us.

The law must uphold our freedoms, and the legal establishment must take an oath to that.

Heicklen himself, writing to his Tyranny Fighters supporters, notes, "The authors are completely ignorant of the Constitutional requirements for the Jury."

Contrary to Cohen and Helm, courtroom lawyer Timothy J. Taylor, writing in his "Authority" blogspot, sums up Heicklen's "jury tampering" charges simply and rationally:

"Any fair judge would have tossed the prosecutor’s case out of court long ago."

Heicklen's story and photo have been featured in the New York Times on a couple of occasions, first when he was indicted for "jury tampering" and more recently when the prosecutor filed a brief detailing the charges against him.

And now, perhaps as the ultimate honor bestowed by the online world, Julian P. Heicklen gets a mention in Wikipedia's article on Jury Nullification in the United States.

(See also this Dallas Libertarian Examiner article)

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