First Amendment

Prosecutor Calls Courthouse Pamphleteer's Message a 'Significant Threat' in Jury Nullification Case

Pamphlets distributed by an 80-year-old retired chemistry professor outside a federal courthouse that inform passers-by about jury nullification do not represent a serious threat to the integrity of the justice system, a public defender this week told a federal judge in Manhattan.

But U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood disagreed, citing as a potential example hard-core abortion opponents who might be willing to excuse the slaying of a provider, Reuters reports.

“The thing here that is so troubling to the government is that the message … undermines the fundamental fairness of our system,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Mermelstein said at a hearing on Wednesday. “If a person is on the steps of a courthouse and is trying to influence jurors, that is a crime.”

She called the pamphlets the government says were distributed by Julian Heicklen outside numerous courthouses a “significant threat.”

The Associated Press also has a story.

Earlier coverage: “NY Prosecutors Defend Jury Tampering Charges Against Courthouse Protester” “Law Prof Urges Not Guilty Vote in Pot Cases, Supports Man Arrested for Nullification Advocacy”

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