jurors

Big Rapids, MI — As constitutional rights are steadily eroded in the U.S. through the burgeoning police/surveillance state, one case in Michigan provides an example of just how dire the situation has gotten. Keith Woods, a resident of Mecosta County, was charged and recently convicted for the “crime” of standing on a public sidewalk and handing out fliers about juror rights.

Woods was exercising his First Amendment rights and raising awareness about something the courts deliberately fail to tell jurors when beginning a trial – jury nullification, or the right to vote one’s conscience. For this, Woods – a father of eight and former pastor – was charged with jury tampering, after an initial felony charge of obstructing justice was dropped following public outcry.

Even with the reduced charge, the case has very troubling implications for free speech rights. The county prosecutor, seemingly furious that a citizen would dare inform the public on jury nullification, said Woods’ pamphlet “is designed to benefit a criminal defendant.”

The prosecutor then seemed to contradict himself in a statement, saying, “Once again the pamphlet by itself, fine, people have views on what the law should be, that’s fine. It’s the manner by which this pamphlet was handed out.

Woods, who testified in his own defense, stated under oath that he did not ask anyone walking into the courthouse if they were a juror, remained on the public sidewalk and never blocked any area. He decided to hand out the pamphlets at a Nov. 24, 2015 trial of an Amish man accused of draining a wetland on his property in violation of Dept. of Environment Quality rules.

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Woods’ pamphlet did not contain anything specific to the case or any Michigan court, according to defense attorney David Kallman. But this innocuous behavior, which should be viewed as a public service, drew the attention of a judge who became “very concerned” when he saw the pamphlets being carried by some of the jury pool.

I thought this was going to trash my jury trial, basically,” testified Judge [Peter] Jaklevic. “It just didn’t sound right.

Jacklevic ended up sending that jury pool home on Nov. 24, 2015 when Yoder took a plea.

Jaklevic continued to testify that he stepped into the hallway with Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede when Det. Erlandson and a deputy brought Wood into the courthouse that day. Mecosta County Deputy Jeff Roberts testified he “asked Wood to come inside because the Judge wanted to talk with him,” then threatened to call a city cop if Wood did not come inside.

Wood testified Judge Jaklevic never spoke to him that day, or him any questions, before ordering his arrest. He tells FOX 17 he had concerns his case was tried in Mecosta County where all of this happened, involving several court officials including the judge.”

To recap, this judge said “it just didn’t sound right” that people were carrying informational pamphlets on their rights as jurors, and he possibly lied on the stand to justify the fact that he had Woods arrested for doing nothing wrong. What’s more, Woods was brought to trial in the same court where all of this transpired, where county officials had literally teamed up to violate his rights in the first place.

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So our taxpayer dollars are paying their salary, and they were the actors in this case to arrest me, to imprison me, and all that,” said Woods. “I did have a very great concern that they were the ones trying the case, because they work together day in and day out.

Defense attorney Kallman notes that during Woods’ trial, they were prohibited from arguing several points to the jury.

And of course, the First Amendment issues are critical: that we believe our client had the absolute First Amendment right to hand out these brochures right here on this sidewalk,” said Kallman. “That’s part of the problem of where we feel we were handcuffed quite a bit.

When asked how he felt about his First Amendment rights, Woods replied, Oh, I don’t feel like I have them.

We had briefs about the First Amendment, free speech. It was very clear today, I know the jury doesn’t hear that, but it was very clear that the government did not meet their burden to restrict my free speech on that public sidewalk that day. It was very clear.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.
  • Damiana

    For those of you not completely familiar with the phrase “jury nullification,” here’s a wonderfully thorough and succinct tutorial:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqH_Y1TupoQ

    • Zackknowitall

      I would have got up on the stand and said my peace about my right to do what I did.

      • Damiana

        Gotten, not “got.”

        • Zackknowitall

          Come on I thought we were friends. Why grammar Nazi me?

          • Damiana

            Water’s wet, ice is cold, and I correct people’s grammar. There are just some elemental constants one cannot change!

          • Reme

            Except that he was right, grammatically, in this case the proper usage is got, not gotten.

          • Damiana

            *checks* Well, I’ll be damned! I didn’t actually know it depended on the definition. Thank you for making me a little smarter today!

          • Reme

            Somebody has to watch the watchers.

          • Phil Freeman

            Yummy crow.

          • Damiana

            ‘Tis, with a bit of black pepper.

          • Steven Erickson

            Its why nazis went to Nurenberg.

          • Zackknowitall

            Well I use voice to text since I lost my right hand in a Iraq and suffered a TBI.

          • Liz O’neill

            I think what you mean is, once a smart ass, always smart ass, it must be difficult to be as perfect as you must be, to feel that you can correct peoples grammar, especially since no one asked you to. and more so since he was correct.

          • Damiana

            Since I learned something I didn’t know, I’m quite GLAD I made myself look like a jackass and very grateful to Reme for helping. If I’d kept my know-it-all mouth shut, I’d still be ignorant about the various past participle conjugations of “get.”

            You’re gonna have to try a LOT harder than that if you really want to pick on me, you bland and unoriginal twat.

        • billdeserthills

          I had to erase it after I heard a possible vet lost his hand

  • John C Carleton

    ‘Should the Common Man be Forced to Submit to the Elites Corporate, Administrative Law’
    http://www.johnccarleton.org/BLOGGER/2017/04/21/should-the-common-man-be-forced-to-submit-to-the-elites-corporate-administrative-law/

  • G’ma G

    There are two silver bullets lethal to our injustice system with respect to “victimless crimes”: Challenging the prosecutor’s jurisdiction and Jury Nullification. Try pressing either of these and you will be jailed for contempt. I say “will” because this is hardly an isolated case. If they are this fearful of these…you know what you need to study up on and share with everyone you know.

  • Sallie Dodd Butters

    Just ignore the Judges unfair demands, don’t try to explain Jury Nullification to the potential jurists, and vote your own mind and conscience! Ignore Fascism and go about your ‘duty’

  • Dan Quixoté

    “Judge” Jaklevic can hope he never goes before a real, just judge. But what goes around, comes around.

    “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you be run for help?” – God (Isaiah 10:1-3)

  • TOPDOG1

    There are plenty of kangaroo courts all over the U.S. They will attempt to push anything through the lower court, However; at the next level the vast majority are then dismissed. Until we hold the prosecutors who are responsible for these injustices things will only get worse. The Prosecutor is under the same board as as any ambulance chasing shyster in the system.This incompetence is very costly and a very cumbersome process they force onto the public. I suggest a petition directed at the board for ethics violations and recommending disbar. Just as soon as I can get my website up I myself would love to spearhead the campaign. Likewise Civil Rights complaints filed at the various boards for negligence and refusing to discipline these tyrants and villains within the justice system.