NH Jury activists gathered this morning outside Cheshire superior court in Keene to perform jury outreach prior to jury selection for the trial of James Cleaveland which begins tomorrow morning (Tuesday 12/15) at 9am.
James is facing two “Class A” misdemeanor charges with a possibility of up to two years in prison for being arrested while recording video of police at the scene of a suicidal man in the summer of 2014. The charges are “disorderly conduct” (the state’s favorite catch-all charge) and “resisting arrest”.
James has already had a bench trial at Keene district court, the video of which can be seen here, and was found guilty. District court judge Edward J Burke sentenced him to 1.5 years in jail, suspended, plus a $625 fine. After sentencing, James opted for his right to a jury trial “de novo”, which means, “from the beginning”. So now, not quite a year later, he is being given that trial.
This morning was jury selection. Nearly all of the jury pool of about 58 people had received the NH Jury trifold last month. (In Cheshire county, petit juries are empaneled for two months.) Usually the jury outreach process involves handing out flyers and opening the door for folks, but in addition today it included activists holding signs featuring phrases like, “2 Years 4 Filming?”, and “Filming the police is not a crime!”
More activists are expected to be on-the-scene tomorrow morning at 8am for further sign-holding, with the trial starting at 9am and expected to last two days. If you can’t make it in person, live tweets will be available at FreeKeene.com and later the full video will also be posted to Free Keene.
“It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision… you [juries] have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy.” —John Jay, first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, State of Georgia v. Brailsford (1794)
You’re out on a leisurely walk in the city one day, simply going about your business and keeping to yourself, when… crap! People handing out informational literature. Uggghh. Don’t they have anything better to do? You’ve clearly spotted them and worse yet, they spotted you spotting them! Good luck escaping their tractor beam now!
You briefly consider reaching for your cell phone to pretend to take a call, but it’s too late. It’s clear that there’s no way to weasel out of accepting their disruptive pamphlet, so you force a polite, acknowledging smile, or construct a curious, inquisitive glance as you take the propaganda from their outstretched hand, feigning interest juuuuuussstt until you’re out of their field of view (probably), at which point you can safely discard whatever it was they were peddling without looking like a terrible, close-minded person.
Sound familiar? Or is that just the process that usually runs through my head when I see someone handing out unsolicited pamphlets? (To be fair, it is usually promotional garbage trying to get us to buy something, or telling us we’re going to some version of hell if we don’t repent for our existence, etc.) Well, even despite my less-than-savory feelings about this method of interpersonal exchange, I was actually on the other side of it for the first time this week, volunteering my time to help spread awareness of an incredible right that we as Americans possess, but simply aren’t informed of: jury nullification of law. (more…)
As part of NHJury.com’s new mission, we’re reaching out to help educate legislators about Jury Nullification. To that end, board members Rich Paul and I went to speak with the NH house judiciary committee on a recent bill regarding expanding protections to a jury nullification defense, HB 246.
NHJury.com‘s board members will continue testifying in the upcoming weeks as there are even better jury nullification bills that are still-to-come to the committee. Rich’s testimony was caught on camera, but a malfunction prevented mine from being recorded:
Though it is said that man cannot live by activism alone, Rich Paul is making the attempt. Please support him by sending him a tip via paypal or bitcoin at address 1NgtySdrkjvkism44TwXZ1kxnXdrPtCdcc.
What are you doing on a bright Monday morning? Grabbing that coffee before work? Sleeping in on your day off? Turning out to inform scores of jurors of their right to nullify bad laws?
If the last one sounds like your morning, odds are you turned out to jury nullification outreach in Manchester, New Hampshire. Every other week, a band of dedicated activists shows up and passes out literature informing jurors of their right to vote “not guilty” in order to nullify bad laws.
Dozens of citizens participate as jurors as part of a required “civic duty.” Unfortunately, all too often jurors end up sending their fellow citizens who have never hurt anyone behind bars, feeling they have no choice but to convict of a victimless “crime.” As it turns out, in New Hampshire the rights of jurors to vote “not guilty” and nullify bad laws is well-protected, even though few jurors know about this right. That’s why it’s imperative to make time to get out there and inform jurors. It’s one way we can make a difference. It could save someone’s life.
It’s a few minutes out of your morning. All you have to do is show up with a smile on your face and pass out informative literature. You have everything to gain. What do you have to lose?