On July 30th, Mark Iannicelli was arrested just outside a Denver, CO courthouse and charged with seven felonies. Mr. Iannicelli wasn’t committing a violent act, stealing large amounts of money or private property, threatening violence, or selling prohibited controlled substances. Mr. Iannicelli was carrying out one very important, albeit incredibly State-infuriating, act of public service. Mr. Iannicelli was passing out pamphlets (contain your shock) to anyone in the area who had an interest in his display. The allegedly dangerous, seditious pamphlets contained information on the rights of citizens to practice Jury Nullification.
If you don’t know what jury nullification is, it is the simple idea that jurors have the right not only to judge the acts of an alleged crime in question, but also the law itself which begat the criminal prosecution. And while you may be learning of this practice for the first time this very minute, the practice has been around for a long time – not only practiced successfully for hundreds of years, but endorsed by numerous US Supreme Court Justices and protected by many more jurists. According to the Cato Institute:
The doctrine of jury nullification rests on two truths about the American criminal justice system: (1) Jurors can never be punished for the verdict they return, and (2) Defendants cannot be retried once a jury has found them not guilty, regardless of the jury’s reasoning. So the juries in both the Rosenthal and Paey cases could have returned a “not guilty” verdict, even though Paey and Rosenthal were undoubtedly guilty of the charges against them.
Take a moment to update yourself on the theory behind Jury Nullification, and then inspect the latest facts surrounding Mr. Iannicelli’s arrest. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you read.
If you’ve taken the time to read up on the links above (and I hope you have), riddle me this: Using the logic of the Denver District Attorney, since I too am educating members of the public who may or may not be potential jurors on their right to practice Jury Nullification – should I too be arrested for this blog post? After all, neither Mr. Iannicelli nor I have attempted to influence anyone to practice jury nullification in a specific case. Rather we both wish all members of the public, juror or not, to understand that they possess the right. Whether or not a juror or potential juror uses that right is completely up to them. I guess I’m guilty too.
As a final note: in a case such as this, whenever the State arrests a non-violent activist like Mr. Iannicelli, simply because he is educating the public on matters of civil rights, of one thing you can be absolutely certain: the State. Is. Terrified. The State is afraid of you, the citizen, realizing your power and throwing off the intimidation they foist upon you. The arrest of Mr. Iannicelli, in and of itself, is the latest example of another shameful attempt by the State to tighten its grip on the citizenry through yet more intimidation tactics. The State desperately hopes to use Mr. Iannicelli as an example and a warning to deter others like you and me from being similarly disobedient. It is the State’s sincere hope that the mere perception of guilt that accompanies any arrest, the shame amongst friends and family, the hassle and financial ruin from defending yourself against the behemoth of State – that these immense pressures which you will now witness from a far as Mr. Iannicelli tries to clear his good name – will be more than enough to deter you and me from being similarly and incredulously disobedient.
I strongly encourage you: do not give up. The State’s fear is a sign that we are winning the battle for liberty.