JASON PROEFROCK: Writer contends charges against Wood wrong

To the editor:

Michigan’s case against Mr. Keith Wood, charging him with jury tampering, is wrong on so many levels.

Let me summarize.

First, I am not an attorney, but here is what initially happened. Keith was arrested last November and charged with jury tampering for passing out fliers to folks coming into the courthouse. He was outside, on a public sidewalk. The folks that were walking into the courthouse were not sworn in jurors.

The Michigan Supreme Court has, at least twice, decided that a person is not a juror in our state until sworn in as a juror. One case was from last year and another from way back in 1961.

Second, even if these folks entering the courthouse were jurors, and they read the flier, and they decided to vote not guilty because they disagreed with the law, no one has ever been charged for an “incorrect” decision as a juror. Your decision as a juror is yours to make, in good conscience, without fear of prosecution. That is sort of the point.

Third, if the action of jury nullification as discussed in the fliers was indeed illegal (which it is not), it is legal under the First Amendment of our US Constitution to advocate illegal activity. In 1969, the US Supreme Court (with one African-American Justice) unanimously decided it was OK for a KKK leader to shout at a podium in front of TV cameras and advocate for the murder of African-Americans. From what I understand, this ruling by the US Supreme Court has not been overturned.

Fourth, if those fliers actually did influence or “poison” that (non-existent) jury on that morning last November, how can that flier be shown to the jury that will eventually try Keith without “poisoning” them? And if it can be shown to Keith’s jury as just a piece of evidence, the contents of which can be examined on an academic level and not heeded, why couldn’t the judge back then have done the same thing with those (again, non-existent) “jurors” and told them to disregard the yellow piece of paper many of them were holding?

Finally, Michigan’s penal code describes a person who is guilty of jury tampering as one who “willfully attempts to influence the decision of a juror in any case by argument or persuasion.” Handing someone a flier hardly qualifies as a willful attempt to influence anyone. There is no record of him forcefully stuffing pamphlets into people’s hands, pockets or purses, threatening them to vote one way, or even suggesting that they vote any one way in any specific case.

The exchange of information is not a crime. If it is now, here in this county, we are in deep doo-doo.

will see you all at the court house to watch this trial. The tentative date is July 28.

Jason Proefrock

Mecosta County Resident

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