‘Nothing can be a crime until it has been recognized as such by the law of the land’
Published: 01/23/2016 at 4:58 PM BOB UNRUH
A Michigan man charged with felony obstruction of justice and jury tampering for handing out a leaflet on jury nullification in front of a courthouse contends the local prosecutor’s objection to the contents of his material doesn’t make his actions a crime.
Keith Wood, a former pastor, was arrested Nov. 24 on the orders of Mecosta County District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic while he was handing out leaflets published by the Fully Informed Jury Association to members of the public on public property.
Wood was charged with felony “obstruction of justice” for giving members of a jury pool what prosecutors described as “a pamphlet that encouraged the jurors to violate their oaths and directly contradicted the instructions the jurors would be given thereby tainting the entire jury panel.” He’s also charged with attempting to “influence the decision of a juror in a case by argument or persuasion that was not a part of the proceedings in open court in the trial of the case.”
Jury nullification occurs when a jury believes a defendant is guilty but renders a “not guilty” verdict because it regards the relevant law as unjust.
In a brief, Wood’s attorney David Kallman contends Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede’s response to a motion to dismiss all counts against Wood was based on “a standard all but abandoned almost 50 years ago” as well as “irrelevant” out-of-state court cases.
Kallman argues there is “not a single published or non-published case in Michigan where a defendant was charged with, or convicted of, statutory jury tampering or common-law obstruction of justice for allegedly tampering with a jury pool.”
“To be sure, if there was such a case, Prosecutor Thiede almost certainly would have cited it. Instead, he claims to have found a new, never-before-discovered crime that was unknown to all prosecutors and courts before him.”
Kallman contends that contrary to Thiede’s opinion, precedent holds that “nothing can be a crime until it has been recognized as such by the law of the land.”