Manchester, CT — In mid-October, liberty activist Michael Picard stood outside the Manchester, Connecticut Superior Court, passing out flyers advocating for jury nullification — that is until various government officials, oddly fully ignorant of the law, attempted to stop him under the guise of needing a permit.
Fortunately, as any seasoned activist knows to do, Picard captured his encounter with the hapless court officials on video — although, be advised, his filming as the phone dangled from a lanyard didn’t make for steady picture.
Although Chief Clerk of the Manchester Courts Antonio D’Addeo might have demanded a permit for passing out literature — which is, incidentally, untrue — it was the contents of Picard’s flyers, touting the power of jury nullification, which comprised the most likely target.
Picard noted in his video footage that jury nullification “is the right of the jury to acquit a defendant, or a juror to hang the jury, because they believe the law to be immoral or misapplied.”
As The Free Thought Project previously explained:
“[J]ury nullification is the right for any juror to not only judge the facts of the case but also to judge the validity of the law itself. If a jury feels that a defendant is facing an unjust charge, they have the right to rule in the defendant’s favor, even if they are technically guilty under the court’s standards.”
In short, people have the right not to punish infractions when a law is unjust. A crime isn’t a crime if the law broken wasn’t moral to begin with.
Jury nullification is thus an indescribably powerful tool for the public to fight the injustices of a tyrannical and overreaching government, and police and the courts — who rely heavily on revenue raked in from the breaking of countless absurd laws — don’t take too kindly when activists call attention it.
A government permission slip isn’t required for distributing or disseminating such information — no matter how frequently authorities use that excuse. In fact, police in Colorado — both obtuse about the law permitting handing out pamphlets and threatened by the ramifications of public knowledge — have even defied a court order not to arrest jury nullification activists.
D’Addeo, however, was so convinced of being in the right, he summoned Connecticut State Police to the courthouse to deal with Picard and his (perfectly legal) lack of a permit.
Chief Marshal Greg Maloney arrived on the scene a little over 30 minutes after Picard originally began passing out the flyers, saying that by the orders of Judge Hunchu Kwak and Judge Julia Dewey, the activist must cease and vacate the premises.
Picard explains the court is public property, paid for by the taxpayers, and thus he is not required to move to a public sidewalk as Maloney suggests.
Having no logical retort to that argument, the chief marshal replies, equally absurdly, “Yeah, but when I say you need to move, that means you’re starting a criminal trespass […]
“I’m just giving you a warning. So, if you refuse to move, I’m going to call the state police and they’re coming to arrest you and take you down to Troop H.”
Picard, to seeming no avail cited to both D’Addeo and Maloney the court case United States v. Grace, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of the public to pass out pamphlets and information on court property — including sidewalks and grounds.
Referring to Grace, Maloney says, “I don’t know anything about that, but I’m just telling you that right now, what we’re going to do, if you want to move it to the sidewalk you can do that because that’s public property, but you can’t stay here.
“I’ve been ordered by the presiding judge to have you removed.”
It wasn’t just the presiding judge who demanded Picard be removed — as Maloney notes, Judge Kwak has “called the judge, the administrative judge in Hartford [Judge Julia Dewey], and she said that you need to move, so I’ve been ordered to have you move.”
Keep in mind, these judges — who rule on laws for a living — must be utterly ignorant of the federal ruling allowing political and other displays, as well as the dissemination of material, on any court property in the United States.
Apparently the court’s legal illiteracy did not matter — the judges determined either the passing out of flyers or information pertaining to jury nullification was enough of a threat to warrant calling in state troopers, if needed. Picard, advising the marshal he would contact his attorney in the matter, eventually conceded to the unreasonable demand and moved to sidewalk abutting Superior Court property.
This month, Kim Stone from the Office of the Chief Court Administrator issued a statement to the young liberty-minded activist, proffering a watered-down and portentous excuse for the incident, stating:
“As noted earlier, the Judicial Branch does not have a policy regarding peaceable assembly outside of its Superior Court facilities, which would include the distribution of pamphlets. As also noted, the Branch is in the process of developing a policy as a result of the incident on Oct. 12 outside of GA 12 in Manchester. We anticipate that the policy will be similar to a policy in place regarding the entrance to the Supreme Court building in that its intent will be to balance the rights of individuals exercising their First Amendment rights ‘with the need to ensure that the members of the public and staff can safely enter and exit the premises.’
“Regarding the incident last month, an individual was exercising his constitutional rights under the First Amendment. Staff responded in good faith without a policy in place to guide them in striking that balance. As such, we are not going to speculate on what should or should not have been done and instead focus on developing a policy for the future. We will make sure to get you a copy of the policy once it is completed.”
In other words, a branch of the government plans to adopt a policy to further encroach on individual freedoms as it deems fit — akin to the much-ridiculed and duly ignored ‘free speech zones’ which often pop up during large protests.
As for jury nullification, however, New Hampshire took a rather revolutionary stance in April when its House passed a bill requiring judges to inform jurors about the option. Although it was soon killed by the state Senate, the proposed legislation evidences growing support for the public to understand its rights and power.
In fact, because nullifying a jury in silent protest of bad law and the revenue it generates poses such a cogent threat, a great deal of propaganda falsely denigrates the practice and discourages people from exercising that right. The Free Thought Project previously cut through some of the falsehoods in an article you can find here.
But it is our right — and arguably our duty — to ensure the precious few freedoms Big Government still allows aren’t eroded to the point they wind up negated, entirely.
The right to nullify a jury as a protest against unjust and unfair laws, as well as their misapplication, and freedom to inform the public about its power should similarly be guarded. Governments don’t ordinarily swoop in and remove everyone’s rights instantaneously — they are eroded over time, thanks to a hopelessly inattentive and conveniently unvigilant populace.
Fortunately, people like Michael Picard actively work to pull the wool off people’s eyes.
Again, be advised the following video is not steadied or stabilized, which may present issues for certain viewers: