You’ve got to like a guy whose self bio begins:
Julian Heicklen was born at an early age. At 8 days, he was circumcised. This was so traumatic that he did not walk or talk for a year.
Via Darian Worden at the Center for a Stateless Society, the septuagenarian libertarian activist has been criminally charged in Manhattan’s federal district court with “jury tampering,” apparently for distributing FIJA literature about jury nullification outside federal courthouses. Before his jury nullification outreach he was known for participating in weekly Marijuana Smoke Outs in front of the main gates at Penn State University, where he was a professor.
Professor Heicklen has been arrested numerous times for distributing information about jury nullification on federal courthouse property. On 2009-11-09, not only Heicklen but also a videographer who was recording his arrest outside a federal courthouse in Manhattan were both arrested. The arrest of the videographer resulted in the New York Civil Liberties Union suing the federal government on his behalf and this settlement. Here’s the footage of these arrests:
Heicklen has apparently brought his own civil suit against the federal government for his arrests. After a story published in the New York Post suggested that Heicklen was high on pot when he wrote this letter to the federal judge presiding over his civil suit in defiance of the judge’s order to stop sending him letters, Heicklen wrote on his website:
This could be a breakthrough moment in or movement if we can keep its attention. I urge each of you to write a letter to the Post. Garry Reed has already done so: http://www.examiner.com/libertarian-news-in-national/ny-post-treats-libertarian-activist-as-loony-pothead.
It makes no difference if you praise me, denigrate me, say that I have good intentions but am a nut, or say that I am a nut but sometimes do something good. The New York Post does not care. All it wants to do is increase circulation. If there is interest in the situation, it will continue to publish the letters. I also do not care what you say. Bad publicity is better than no publicity. Just spell my name right.
I’m going with the good-intentioned-nut-who-sometimes-does-something-good theory. Here is his report on the jury tampering charge:
On January 11, 2011, I was notified by summons that I have been criminally charged with jury tampering. The moment of truth has arrived. My response to the court is given at the end of this E-mail. The dance begins. Finally we will have the opportunity to inform the jury in the U. S. District Court: Southern District of New York that the judges have routinely lied to it.
This trial could be the defining trial of the decade. We must not blow it. I will represent myself as counsel pro se. However, I am asking all the attorneys and others knowledgable in the law on the Tyranny Fighters mailing list receiving this E-mail to join as co-counsels. Particularly, I hope that the American Jury Institute/Fully Informed Jury Association and the American Civil Liberties Union join me to provide advice, guidance and strategy.
I maintain the role as lead counsel, because I can and will say and do things that could disbar any attorney.
In addition, I request that all of you that write for news outlets, have radio shows, and/or blogs will publicize this trial to the hilt. I intend to provide a blow by blow flow of trial information. Be sure to send your material to major news outlets. The rest of you can write letters-to-the editor of your local newspapers and magazines with trial information as it becomes available.
I want this to be the ultimate public trial.
As several supportive but concerned commenters on Heicklen’s report note, his presumably already-filed “response to the court” appears to demonstrate serious ignorance of the laws and procedures being deployed against him, and his decision to retain a fool for his lawyer appears exceedingly . . . foolish.
I’m not going to judge Professor Heicklen, although he does seem intent on shooting himself in the foot to the detriment of both himself and his noble cause.
As I’ve previously suggested, the restoration of the right of juries to judge the justice of the laws is perhaps our single most necessary political reform. Repealing the income tax is a close second, but restoring the independence of juries would seriously if not fatally subvert the State’s ability to prosecute tax “offenders” and to continue extorting its revenue.
A New York federal district court judge other than the one Heicklen has been fighting with, the great Jack Weinstein, struck in his gutsy and brilliant 236-page decision in U.S. v. Polizzi a strong blow for jury independence.
More recently, potential jurors being selected for a criminal case in Missoula County, Montana, in what the prosecutor called a “mutiny” and Jonathan Turley described as an act of pre-trial jury nullification, just said no to the idea of convicting a defendant for possessing a small amount of marijuana, resulting in the trial judge calling a recess and the lawyers working out a less onerous plea deal.
The Independent Institute’s Mary Theroux, describing a lively exchange between David Friedman and Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals at a recent Institute-sponsored forum, in which Kozinski opined that jury nullification is “an abomination” and “a crime” and that “juries should be told in no uncertain terms that if they can’t apply the law as instructed by the judge, they ought to get off,” astutely observed that the potential jurors in Missoula “acted as Judge Kozinski said they ought,” and raised an excellent question:
Is mutiny the new nullification?