Mecosta Circuit Judge Kimberly Booher dismissed a felony obstruction of justice charge on Wednesday against jury nullification activist and former pastor Keith Wood.
According to MLive, Judge Booher however is allowing a misdemeanor jury tampering charge to move forward. 39-year-old Wood had been arrested on both charges in November of 2015 while handing out flyers promoting the concept of jury nullification outside of a Michigan courthouse.
Jury nullification is a term that describes scenarios in which a jury refuses to convict a guilty defendant under the rationale that the law itself is unjust or inappropriately applied. Wood is facing charges for handing out flyers produced by the Fully Informed Jury Association which argue that jury nullification is a right belonging to jurors.
Prosecutor Brian Thiede alleges that Wood chose to hand out flyers that day to target potential jurors in a land-use case against an Amish man. WOOD-TV is reporting that Wood admits to knowing the man, who later pleaded guilty to charges, but denies that he was trying to reach jurors in that case.
“I’m convinced the rest of the case will be dismissed based on First Amendment rights,” said Wood’s Attorney David Kallman.
Thiede claims that Wood’s behavior erodes the rule of law and could lead to a future in which juries set violent criminals free if they believe in the motives behind their attacks.
“And certainly, if we were to allow Mr. Wood’s conduct here, we could have every trial stopped,” Thiede said in court according to FOX 17 West Michigan.
Judge Booher ordered the court to return a $15,000 bond deposit that Wood had paid pursuant to the felony obstruction of justice charge.
The felony obstruction of justice charge would have involved a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and the misdemeanor jury tampering charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.