If you walked close enough to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in New York City yesterday, you were probably handed a flier that explained jury rights from a jury rights advocacy group.
The information presented on these fliers is something every juror should know for any case in which they participate. The main point is this: a juror has the right to not only judge the facts presented in the case, but also the law itself. If he or she believes that the law is unjust or is being misapplied, the defendant can be acquitted. This can mean swift justice for someone “guilty” of a crime that has no victim as it does not require waiting for the slow, lumbering state apparatus to adjust to the views of the community.
Yesterday also happened to mark the beginning of the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the accused operator of the Silk Road. Judge Katherine Forrest did not like the jury rights advocacy happening outside at all. The fliers apparently made it to some of the potential jurors, so she dismissed the jurors who saw them. She ordered the others not to look at the fliers. She even went as far as to threaten to make the jury anonymous if the pamphleting continued. What this means is that Judge Forrest views people who know their rights as jurors to be unfit to serve on a jury. Allow that idea to sink in for a moment.
If the jury rights advocates did anything illegal, i.e. jury tampering, surely they would have been arrested or at least ordered by the court to cease their activities. Neither of those things happened. It appears that Judge Forrest will not let anyone serve who has knowledge of jury nullification (a perfectly legitimate decision by a jury) since might mean that the outcome they decide isn’t in line with what she—I mean, the prosecution—wants.
Doesn’t it sound like Judge Forrest is guilty of jury tampering?