Julian P. Heicklen, 79-year-old, Arrested for Handing Out “Jury Info” Pamphlets

9 May

New York Times- Prosecution Explains Jury Tampering

“Mr. Heicklen, who could face a six-month sentence if convicted, has asked for a jury trial. Ms. Mermelstein, opposing that demand, cited as one reason Mr. Heicklen’s ardent stance that juries should nullify. He would probably ‘urge a jury to do so in a case against him,’ she wrote. “


A man arrested for handing out pamphlets marked “Jury Info” is may be denied a trial for his beliefs by this disgraceful prosecutor, Rebecca Mermelstein,  and faces a six months sentence.  Do you need another example of how this country is no longer free?

Julian P. Heicklen, a 79-year-old retired chemistry professor, has often stood on a plaza outside the United States Courthouse in Manhattan, holding a “Jury Info” sign and handing out brochures that advocate jury nullification, the controversial view that if jurors disagree with a law, they may ignore their oaths to follow it and may acquit a defendant who violated it.

“A law repugnant to the Constitution is void.”    This was established in Marbury v. Madison, 1803, by Chief Justice John Marshall.  According to constitutionfacts.com, “Hereafter, the Court was recognized as having the power to review all acts of Congress where constitutionality was at issue, and judge whether they abide by the Constitution.”  It is our duty as Americans to oppose unconstitutional laws.

Then, last year, federal prosecutors had Mr. Heicklen indicted, charging that his activity violated the law against jury tampering. Lawyers assisting him have sought dismissal of the case on First Amendment grounds.

But now prosecutors are offering their first detailed explanation for why they charged Mr. Heicklen, arguing in a brief that his “advocacy of jury nullification, directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without Constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.”

“His speech is not protected by the First Amendment,” prosecutors wrote.

“No legal system could long survive,” they added, “if it gave every individual the option of disregarding with impunity any law which by his personal standard was judged morally untenable.”

She needs to read a history book , The Bill of Rights and other amendments to The Constitution, paying specific attention to the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments.   As I showed above, according to Marbury v. Madison,  her last statement is incorrect if the law judged by one to be immoral is also unconstitutional.  If it is, we have the option of denouncing such laws and encouraging others to do so.

But a prosecutor, Rebecca Mermelstein, wrote in the government brief that Mr. Heicklen’s courthouse appearances, his “Jury Info” sign, his writings, and statements he made to an undercover agent posing as a passer-by showed his “intent to target prospective jurors in particular.”

“I’m not telling you to find anybody not guilty,” she quoted Mr. Heicklen telling the agent in a secretly recorded conversation.

“But,” he added, “if there is a law you think is wrong then you should do that.”

The brief, filed last month, also cited one of Mr. Heicklen’s pamphlets, which says jurors may vote to acquit if they believe the government was “just trying to flex its muscle by making an example out of the defendant.” The brochure also “strongly suggests that jurors lie to judges in order to avoid being excused from a panel,” Ms. Mermelstein wrote.

When did it become illegal to publicly disagree with a law?  What speech isn’t supported by the First Amendment, besides threats and call for violence?  Someone can say, “Lie to the government,” as long as it’s not in reference to a specific case.  That is NOT illegal.  Dissent is being outlawed.  Why doesn’t the public see this?

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said:

“The government is dangerously wrong in claiming it can criminalize sidewalk advocacy supporting jury nullification. Other than the extremely limited situations in which someone seeks to influence a known juror in a case, jury nullification advocacy is squarely protected by the First Amendment.”

Mr. Heicklen, who taught at Pennsylvania State University and now lives in Teaneck, N.J., has said that he does not try to influence specific jurors or cases, and that he merely distributes brochures to passers-by, with the hope that jurors are among them.

Reached by telephone on Friday, Mr. Heicklen said,

“Since when is telling the truth a crime?” He was preparing his own response to the government brief, he said.

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