Saturday, March 05, 2011

Fascists Want To Make An Example Out Of Older Activist

Elderly Gadfly Faces Prison for Handing Out Political Pamphlets

"Julian P. Heicklen is a 78-year-old retired Pennsylvania State University chemistry professor with an unusual hobby: For years the ardent libertarian activist has regularly stood outside the federal courthouse at 500 Pearl Street to spread the word about jury nullification, a controversial concept that encourages jurors to disregard any law they disagree with. The government doesn't want you to know about it, and now federal prosecutors are making an example of Heicklen, who's been arrested many times for distributing his fliers about the issue.

Heicklen was arraigned last Friday on a charge of "jury tampering"; during the proceedings he was at turns combative and silent, and the Times reports that the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Heicklen calls the charges, which could result in six months in prison, a "tissue of lies," and he says he distributes the fliers to any passersby outside the court—with no way to tell if they are jurors or not. But he holds a sign saying "Jury Info," and acknowledges that sometimes people think it's official. Heicklen, who typically drops to the ground after being issued a citation and must be carried off the premises, was reportedly held without bail at Rikers Island last May due to bench warrants issued after he refused to attend court dates related to previous arrests at 500 Pearl Street.

The NYCLU's Christopher Dunn tells the Times, "This is classic political advocacy. Unless the government can show that he’s singling out jurors to influence a specific verdict, it’s squarely protected by the First Amendment, and they should dismiss the case." Unfortunately for Heicklen, he's not entitled to a jury trial, so his peers won't even have the opportunity to vote according to their consciences."

Jury nullification makes them very, very nervous.
Because the right of people to determine what's law is very dangerous to fascist authority.


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