“How would you like to go to jail in Denver for passing out forbidden literature?”
So starts a recent video put out by the libertarian think tank, The Independence Institute, featuring Denver civil rights attorney David Lane talking about the case of two men arrested for handing out jury nullification flyers in front of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse.
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“Jury nullification is the concept whereby jurors, if they believe a law to be unjust, refuse to convict despite the fact that the prosecutor has proven their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Lane says in the video.
“It’s a power that jurors have and a power that courts and prosecutors dislike intensely.”
The two men, arrested at the urging of District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, are facing felony charges for jury tampering.
The fight over handing out the pamphlets started in late July when Mark Iannicelli was arrested. Two weeks later, Eric Brandt was arrested with the same charge.
This First Amendment fight has united strange bedfellows including Occupy Denver protestors and City Attorney Scott Martinez who advised the police to allow the protestors to continue handing out literature.
Over the past weeks, protests have erupted outside the courthouse and police have confiscated the property of demonstrators, leading Lane to speculate that the charges will be dropped.
The D.A.’s office has told The Denver Post the case will go on.
Lane describes the arrest and decision to prosecute as a “gross abuse of government power.”
“It’s no different than when you’re passing out literature on Red Square and Vladimir Putin disagrees with it, you go to jail. In Denver, if you’re passing out literature on the Lindsey-Flanigan Plaza and Mitch Morrissey disagrees with it, you go to jail.”
Photo credit: Screenshot from “Freedom minute: David Lane on freedom to pass out flyers,” the Independence Institute