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The Courts United States Your Rights Online

Jury Acquits Citizens of Illegally Filming Police 277

sexybomber writes "The Springfield (MA) Republican reports two men accused of illegally filming the process as they bailed friends out of jail that last summer, were acquitted of all charges Tuesday. Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller initially were granted permission to film the bail process, but later were forbidden by jail officials from recording the procedure. When they continued to digitally recording their encounter with jail officials, they were arrested by police. Eyre and Mueller testified that they never attempted to hide the fact that they were recording at the jail. Not only did they ask permission to film the bail-out process — which initially was granted — but their recording devices were 'out in the open,' Eyre said. The Jury found the defendants not guilty of three criminal counts: Each was acquitted of unlawful wiretapping, while Mueller also was acquitted of a charge of resisting arrest."
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Jury Acquits Citizens of Illegally Filming Police

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:22PM (#36829790) []

    The primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government.

    The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convict.

    FIJA Works To:

    Inform potential jurors of their traditional, legal authority to refuse to enforce corrupt laws;

    Inform potential jurors that they cannot be required to check their conscience at the courthouse door;

    Inform potential jurors that they cannot be punished for their verdict;

    Inform everyone that juror veto—juror nullification—is a peaceful way to protect human rights against corrupt politicians and government tyranny.

    • by XanC ( 644172 )

      Thank you and amen!

    • by ericartman ( 955413 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:02PM (#36830140)

      jury nullification---its a good thing
      BTW the last time I was being questioned for service on a jury I asked the judge about it and I was dismissed and thanked for my time. I have yet to be called for jury duty again.

      • by D'Sphitz ( 699604 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:43PM (#36830444) Journal

        jury nullification---its a good thing

        Would this also apply to, say, an all white jury acquitting a KKK member of bombing a church and killing 4 young black girls?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:49PM (#36830488)

          No, and I'll explain why. The same all white jury would not acquit a Black Panther member who bombed a church killing 4 young white girls.

          The issue is that the jury needs to be opposed to the law in general, not it's application in a specific case.

          Meaning, only if you truly believed that bombing and murder should be LEGAL FOR EVERYONE should you vote to acquit.

          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @09:23PM (#36830710) Homepage Journal

            Wrong on all counts. First of all, jury nullification only requires one juror. Second, that juror can vote their conscience, regardless of what drives it, and can indeed cause a failure to convict, even when the entire world might (perhaps quite rightly) think otherwise. Third, there's no "should" about how the jury nullification power is, or can be, used. It's not specifically about legality, it's not specifically about innocence, it's not specifically about appropriateness or exceptional circumstances. It's simply about one or more juror's unwillingness to convict, period, end of story.

            The only counter forces to this are (1) the other jurors and their arguments, and (2) the court's continuing attempts to hide the jury nullification power from jurors, to the extent that if it is even brought up, they'll typically declare a mistrial -- and that's a tool other jurors can use against someone who is attempting jury nullification; simply bring it up when the jury files back into the courtroom. Bang: end of trial, and they'll select a new jury.

            Also, just as an aside, for the person who is intending, for whatever reason, to attempt to use jury nullification, a strategy that may avoid the above countermove is not to mention nullification at all, but simply to insist that you cannot in good conscience convict.

            • by Ixokai ( 443555 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @10:22PM (#36831066)

              I think you're confused about what "jury nullification" means. It is not the right of a single juror to decide not to vote to convict -- it is when a jury reaches a verdict that is contrary to the law. Thus, by definition, it has to be all 12 people -- otherwise there is no verdict. Jury nullification is not a mistrial, its not a hung jury.

              The law says "this act is a crime"; the judge interprets and applies the law (including determining if the law is valid or not, and such), and the jury then determines the *facts* of the case -- they determine what is true and not true, evaluating evidence and deciding what did, or did not, happen. Then they use those facts to determine if the law was violated or not: but the law is the law. They aren't (in general) supposed to determine if the law itself is invalid, if the act itself shouldn't really be a crime or not, or what not.

              Jury nullification isn't about a juror voting their conscience, or failure to convict -- jury nullification is about the jury looking at the facts, deciding that the person did do the thing, and voting not guilty *anyways*, thus... (especially if it becomes a pattern) nullifying the law itself, as it applies to that case at least.

              Yes, its a power juries have innately, by being... juries, and there's nothing you can do to take away the power, really. But its not, in general, SUPPOSED to be their part of the job to counter and nullify law. That's what the legislature and the judicial branches are supposed to do. Juries are the triers of fact, not law.

              Jury nullification can be used for good or ill. You can have them vote not-guilty in some tragic one-off case where despite the law, in the interests of justice and their conscience, they can't convict someone due to extenuating circumstances. Or, a community can decide that killing black people is A-OK, and in effect essentially nullify the law against murder so that it only says "thou shalt not kill white people".

              • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 21, 2011 @12:54AM (#36831756)

                Juries are the triers of fact, not law.

                "The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."
                John Jay Georgia v. Brailsford, 1794 first Chief Justice of the United States.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by bgoldimho ( 2398484 )
                Substantially incomplete response. Jury nullification originated in England, the 'founder' of our Common Law. Juries did not want children stealing bread to eat (read:to not starve to death) to be convicted of a capital crime and be executed. Eventually that society (and ours) learned we don't execute children for theft, then extended to adults; we don't cut off hands or arms for theft either. It's (also) a check and balance where a prosecutor can 'get a jury to indict a ham sandwich'. /UNRELATED RANT so
        • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
          Any power can be abused for evil purposes
        • by Weezul ( 52464 )

          A priori yes, but we fixed that by moving those charges to federal court where trials could be moved out of state.

        • by u38cg ( 607297 )
          I don't see that as more of a problem than endemic racism within the justice system itself. A rogue jury freeing him would be one thing; a judge handing down a six month sentence would be, in my eyes, far worse.
          • No, the issue is that jury nullification allows every group of 12 people to disregard the laws in accordance to their own preferences (being them racism, being simpathetic of one of the parts and so on). The question should be:

            Is a group of 12 people from the same town/country that go into a court room representative enough of the rest of the society that they should have the right to decide to enforce or not the democratically elected laws of the country?

            A jury should limit abuse by being more difficult to

            • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

              A recent trial in Florida actually pulled in juriours from a neighboring city/county because they could not find unbiased people from the local one.

              I like your "democratically elected laws of the country". I chuckled.

        • Yes, it would. It would also apply to juries in the North refusing to convict people accused of violating the Fugitive Slave Act, even when the facts of the case clearly showed they were guilty. It would also apply to juries in California and Oregon refusing to convict people accused by the Federal Government of violating Marijuana laws, when the facts clearly showed that the accused were guilty by Federal Standards, but the Feds refused to acknowledge the validity of Medical Need.

          Be warned that no one pr

      • "BTW the last time I was being questioned for service on a jury I asked the judge about it and I was dismissed and thanked for my time. I have yet to be called for jury duty again."

        Same here.

      • This is not an example of jury nullification though. You can agree with a law and still find people to be not guilty of it.

    • The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convict.

      While true, a trial by jury is also one of the most conspicuously bad good ideas anyone ever had [].

      • by Moryath ( 553296 )

        "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill.

      • by Boronx ( 228853 )

        That's a terrible article. Comparing jury decisions to a statistical process and Herring Gulls? Listening to the perspectives of 11 other people, contributing your own, and working through the consequences of all the evidence is not really the same sort of decision as a chick deciding where to peck.

        • That's a terrible article.

          No, it's a great article. The fact that you apparently don't "get it" means you don't understand anything about statistics or human nature.

          Case in point: you know those signs politicians get placed on people's lawns, e.g., "Vote Jones for Governor"? I never understood their purpose. I mean who in their right mind would be swayed by a lawn sign instead of what the candidate stands for?

          It turns out that a lot of "average" people are swayed by such signs because a lot "average"

          • by Boronx ( 228853 )

            Have you ever been on a jury? They are quite frequently composed of folk who take their responsibility seriously, are committed to thinking through the evidence, and are willing to learn from their fellow jurors.

            Dawkins is trying to apply mathematics to a situation where there isn't as yet any mathematical theory. What constitutes reasonable doubt? Dawkins would have it that if one jury decides to acquit, that would constitute reasonable doubt.

            Reasonable doubt isn't a numerical value, it's jury instructio

          • I was the jury foreman on a murder trial and I'm really glad in that case there was only one jury b/c there were some real nutjobs on both sides (acquital and top punishment regardless of facts). By forcing the jury to stick to the process of evaluating the facts, we were able to reach a verdict (vol manslaughter) that was supported by the evidence. If I voted my "instinct" I probably would have gone to murder, and a lot of people on the jury wanted to do that, rather than look at what the evidence could pr

      • I disagree with the logic Dawkins uses there. He's talking about measuring precision (getting the same result twice). But that won't tell you anything about accuracy (getting the "right answer"), and it also won't tell you anything about outliers. It may well be that most judges would be able to find the truth more reliably than most juries; but imagine the damage that a single "rogue judge" could do -- a judge with outrageous prejudices, or an axe to grind, or who was just a sadist. A bad jury will hap

  • Not justice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:26PM (#36829838) Journal

    There won't be justice until we can hold the people who arrested and tried these men accountable.

  • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @07:28PM (#36829864) Homepage Journal

    Cop Block is a brilliant resource for those wanting information on abusive state practices.

    As always, government needs to be on a short leash. Give these folks too much power and they'll abuse it time and time again.

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      Give these folks too much power and they'll abuse it time and time again.

      Way, way too late. :^(

  • by PJ6 ( 1151747 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @08:30PM (#36830366)
    I love it how every questionable incident with the police involves a charge of "resisting arrest".

    Maybe it's a good predictor of BS.
    • Visions of Eric Idle yelling "Help, help, I'm being oppressed! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!" keep popping into my mind. Which is stupid as this is a serious subject. My bad, bad brain.
    • That's always a fun one, but I love how they tried to apply wiretapping.

      I mean, wtf!?

      • Wiretapping laws are usually written fairly loosely. It made sense when the only applicable situation was telephone wire tapping. But now we have these portable things that can record anything anywhere. The wording of the law is broad enough that you could charge someone with "wiretapping" even when there is no wire to tap.

        You act in a way that violates a badly worded law, you get charged with whatever the law says the crime is called.

        Kinda like going to a flea market and buying some good deals, then the

  • When people start "borgifying" themselves by having implants that record everything they hear and see, what's the law's position going to be on recording in that regard?
    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      I suspect it'll be EMP - Tasers are the precursor for it, they're already using these "non-lethal" weapons, even though they do cause the death of the occasional alleged perpetrator.

      How well do you think the electronics that make up the borgification will function after a few ma at 50kv wanders through the circuitry? You can test this easily; get a little camera PCB (about $10 most places now), hold it in your hand, scuff your feet on the rug for a few minutes, and then still holding the camera PCB, touch t

      • You talk like the board would be embedded naked with no protections whatsoever.

        This would be retarded for a variety of reasons!

        The system would be closed and shielded, and the I/O points-of-entry would be protected from such things. Fuses or breakers, if you will.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        That'd be a serious problem if the person they use the device on happens to also have something like, oh... say... a pacemaker.
        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

          Yes, it is. Research "taser deaths"

          Wait a sec... you didn't mean to imply that the cops / government would care if they knocked someone's pacemaker out, did you? Oh, you funny, funny person, you. :^)

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )
            Tasering somebody isn't remotely certain to kill them. Disabling somebody's pacemaker is almost guaranteed to. The number of people who utilize pacemakers is several orders of magnitude larger than the number of people who die from being tasered
            • Contrary to popular belief, disabled pacemaker != instant death.

              Most pacemakers help people with a reduced cardiac capacity to get an almost normal lifestyle, but not all of them are so grave that without pacemaker they will die. They will feel tired, won't be able to do some things (climbing stairs, v.g.). Of course the risks of death are increased (both due to the absence of pacemaker and the surgery needed to change it), but it is not as immediate as some suggest.

              For example, think that all the people wh

      • by Sabriel ( 134364 )

        So it'll go like this: Suspect turns on the borgification; police zap the suspect; borgification stops working permanently. There's no record of anything except that which the police provide, and the status quo is maintained. As for the costs of the damaged implants, well, you were obviously "resisting arrest" (aren't we all?) and consequently you get to bear them.

        Three "problems" I see with this (problems for the bad guys, anyway): first is that soon enough the "borgification" will be on 24/7, second is

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        And when the first person wearing a pacemaker gets EMP'ed because a cop doesn't want to be filmed, the wrongful death suit will be fun to watch.

    • They'll probably take the rulebook on cavity searches, and tack on a new rule that says it's also okay to create a cavity. Yes it's messy, but think of the children!

  • Congrats to Pete and Ademo! These guys have been, often alone, pushing the bounds of keeping cops accountable, which of course often leads to them ending up behind bars. Most of the time they have charges against them dropped, but apparently the prosecutor in this case saw it necessary to push it to trial. Good thing the jury saw the light. Perhaps this case will motivate politicians to come up with clear legislation banning cops from arresting citizens for filming or recording their actions; maybe hold

  • But you know, this isn't where it ends. The abusive cops are still going to do what they want to do. Worse, they think they are right to do so.

    But with all this police hate moving about here these days, imagine what it would be like if they decided the job wasn't worth doing any longer. Perhaps the good ones would be the last to quit.... perhaps the first. There are still very real bad people out there and they are ready and willing to do you harm for fun and for profit. We need some balance.

    Still. Ba

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:44AM (#36833158)
    That at any given hour, on any given day, there is at least one cop drama playing on cable tv? You know the shows: the bad guys are pure evil and all the cops are the whitest of white hats.

    I'm beginning to think there is a mandate for these shows to be pervasive, just to broadcast the message: do not question authority and the organs of enforcement as they are beyond reproach.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer