BIG RAPIDS, Mich., December 2, 2015– Former pastor Keith Wood, 39, was arrested last week for handing out fliers that informed passerby about the practice of jury nullification on the sidewalk in front of the Mecosta County courthouse.
Wood was distributing fliers from the Fully Informed Jury Association.
“I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus said ‘the truth will set you free’ and I want people to know the truth,” said Wood regarding why he decided to hand out the fliers entitled What Rights Do You Have as a Juror That the Judge Won’t Tell You About?
“If you don’t use your rights, you lose them,” Wood said.
While Wood was handing out the fliers, a courthouse employee approached him and told him that the judge wanted to speak with him. Wood asked the employee if he was being detained and before telling the employee that he would rather stay put.
Shortly after the first encounter, a court deputy approached Wood and also told him that the judge wanted to speak with him. The deputy reportedly informed Wood that if he refused to speak with the judge, the Big Rapids police arrive to arrest him.
Wood said that after being threatened with arrest, he went inside where Mecosta County District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic ordered a deputy to “place him in custody for jury tampering.”
Wood was immediately jailed and a $150,000 bond was ordered. After sitting in jail for approximately 12 hours, Wood made bond and was charged with jury tampering, which is a one-year misdemeanor. He was also charged with obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
“It’s just outrageous,” said Wood’s attorney David Kallman. “The
government can’t just come in and step on people’s First Amendment rights.”
According to Kallman, Wood had no case at the court, knew of no cases and no jury had even been seated at the time he was handing out the educational material.
“There was no jury to tamper with,” Kallman pointed out.
Last August, Occupy Denver affiliated jury rights activist Mark Iannicelli was arrested on seven felony counts of jury tampering after he allegedly distributed educational flyers promoting the concept of jury nullification outside of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, Colorado. Iannicelli reportedly issued the flyers from a booth with a sign reading “Juror Info.”