Keith Woods is being charged with felony obstruction of justice and misdemeanor jury tampering. If convicted, he is facing five years in prison. Keith didn’t try to rig a jury or anything crazy, all he did was pass out jury nullification pamphlets. His courtroom was packed with supporters on Thursday morning, for his preliminary hearing.
After the preliminary hearing was adjourned, both parties argued over who should be called as a witness. Brian Thiede, the Mecosta County prosecutor argued that he is not a necessary witness and if called he will tell the jury that the pamphlet advocates for a “lawless nation”.
This (Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlet) just says ignore the law, ignore the facts, do what your conscience wants,” said Thiede after he tossed the pamphlet on the table, “and I’m thinking, Oh my goodness, well, we could have the jury who thinks that jihad is righteous, and if the San Bernadino shooters had not been killed, they’ll say, Let’s acquit.”
This remark was met with boos from the spectators and Theide finished with, “We would have a lawless nation if people voted their conscience.”
Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of “Not Guilty” despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate they are charged with deciding. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people that agree with the actions of rape, murder and theft let alone advocate for someone who committed them be allowed to go unpunished.
Jury nullification is best applied in cases where the defendant is being charged for actions, that although deemed criminal by the authorities has no victim, therefore cannot be defined as a crime.
Dave Kallman the attorney representing Woods was empathetic to the prosecutors sentiment but brought up that nullification is apart of the instructions given to jurors.
I understand what (Thiede is) saying: we don’t want anarchy and that sort of thing,” said Kallman. “But I think he’s conflating what was going on here with what the actual rights of jurors are. Jurors have the power to rule according to their conscience. In the end, your vote must be your own, and you must vote honestly and in good conscience.’ It’s in the jury instruction for goodness sake, that’s given every single time in every single criminal case in this state.
The arguments Thursday focused on the defense subpoenas of Judge Peter Jaklevic, who is accused of directly ordering Wood’s arrest, Magistrate Thomas Lyons, Prosecutor Brian Thiede, and Assistant Prosecutor Nathan Hull.
Kallman said that they all must be called as witnesses as the police reports show that Brian Theide – the attorney prosecuting keith woods- ordered court employees to speak with Mr. Woods as he was handing out flyers.
“These are all points that make it clear that they are necessary witnesses, but Mr. Thiede directly questioned our client in the hallway. When he is brought in, he’s not Mirandized. I don’t know what he asked him. I’m not entitled to call him as a witness, while this is all going on before the judge orders him (Wood) to be arrested?
Theide claimed the Woods had a special interest in a case happening November 24 2015 and was intentionally trying to poison the jury. Andy Yoder an Amish man plead guilty to three misdemeanor counts regarding Department of Environmental Quality permits to create and refill inland lakes.
The defendant here had a specific interest in this case,” said Thiede. “We show that by he’s there at the pre-trial for this case when only this case was up for pre-trial. Then we see him at the courthouse again for this case that is talking about the Yoder case
Woods attorney argued that he was not targeting jurors, but passing out general legal information and the charges violate free speech.
Our defense is a First Amendment defense: our client had the right of free speech to hand out this pamphlet with legal information,” said Kallman. “There’s nothing in this juror pamphlet that says anything about any case going on before the court. It’s general information put out by an organization.
Kallman plans on filing another motion to have the felony charges removed as they are a general charge and no longer apply after being charged with a specific crime.
If you ever find yourself on a jury for something silly like passing out flyers or smoking a joint. Remember, that crimes have victims and people interacting voluntarily with each other for pleasure or profit is not a crime. The government might try to say you cant exchange information or put certain things in your body, that is where it is our duty as a juror to nullify unjust laws.