Jury tampering conviction upheld for man who passed out fliers on sidewalk

MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich. -- Twenty-seven months into his case, a judge denied the appeal for the man convicted of jury tampering, after passing out jury rights' pamphlets on a sidewalk before the Mecosta County Courthouse.

Friday in the Mecosta County, Isabella County District Judge Eric Janes upheld Keith Wood's conviction for the one-year misdemeanor jury tampering. Wood was escorted in handcuffs from the courtroom he first faced Nov. 24 2015, after he says Mecosta County District Judge Peter Jaklevic ordered his arrest for passing out 50 Fully Informed Jury Association fliers. Wood stood on the sidewalk in front of that courthouse the day another trial was set to begin.

For Wood, his case has been merciless from the start: when he exclusively spoke on camera with FOX 17 saying he was "speechless" after his 2015 arrest. Wood was initially charged with a five-year felony for obstructing justice and jury tampering, then held on a $150,000 bond two days before Thanksgiving that year.

"[Wood's] record was fine, he’s no flight risk whatsoever, eight children, and they set $150,000 bond?" Kallman said Friday in court. "Your Honor, I think that speaks volumes to the government action here.”

“It has a huge chilling effect on people," said David Kallman to FOX 17, Keith Wood's attorney, regarding this ruling.

"I guess you better not be on public sidewalks, and better not be handing out information to anybody, because you could get prosecuted.”

Kallman and Wood believe this case has dire implications for First Amendment rights, despite the fact they were barred from arguing free speech during Wood's trial last summer.

“Of any kind of speech you can think of, the Supreme Court has repeatedly said, speech in public areas and public sidewalks, pubic fora, have the highest level of protection and therefore have the highest level of scrutiny," Kallman argued Friday during oral arguments for their appeal.

Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede refutes Wood's First Amendment rights, and argued Wood's speech became threats to a jury.

"When speech is the means for committing an offense, then it’s not protected; it is outside the constitutional protection of the First Amendment," Thiede told Judge Janes on Friday. "And so what we have here is speech that had an intent and an end other than making a speech, it had and end of influencing a jury."

After his felony charge was dropped, Wood went to trial for jury tampering; however, his defense was also barred from mentioning the fact to their jury that no jurors were under oath the day Wood passed fliers out. That unrelated case, involving an Amish man and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, never went to trial.

 

Though Judge Janes said Wood's case is closed Friday, Kallman says they will file an appeal and emergency stay with the Michigan Court of Appeals.

"This case is far from over," Kallman said.

Thiede was unavailable for comment but told FOX 17 "justice was served."

Family members of Wood tell FOX 17 they are heartbroken and shocked that his case went this far. Wood is serving his first of eight consecutive weekends in jail, then six months' probation and fines for jury tampering.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

15 comments

      • Awe

        Informing people of their rights is a crime? It’s not. Legally saying “jury nullification is a thing” in this comment is identical to what he was convicted for. It’s absolute bollocks.

        • Michael

          A)Jury nullification is not a “right”. While it is within a juries power to do so it’s not a right and can’t be given in jury instructions.

          B) You saying it on this forum is not identical because it’s not directed at a juror and you aren’t trying to influence a specific case. He was.

          C) He was found guilty by a jury and that verdict was upheld. Until it is overturned you are inherently wrong.

          • phicrappazappa

            He was susequently found guilty by an ignorant jury that had no idea what “jury nullification” was, nor will they ever if the “just-us” system is allowed to prevail in hiding reality and the truth from WTP. the truth about the law . com

          • Janice Hanes

            This occurred literally right down the road from me. There was no “jury tampering” and if you believe so, you’ve been misled by the very criminals who have successfully thrwated this man’s constitutional right to inform others of thier constitutional rights, period. There ARE states who include jury nullification in their jury instructions. How then, are this man’s actions illegal or not protected constitutionally? How? If Judges themselves across the nation agree that this is a constitutional set of instructions, a constitutional right that they tell the jury panel themselves, then how is it suddenly not constitutional in Mecosta, Michigan? There was no jury screeend that day. No jury setting, no trial starting, and this man was on the sidewalk. An unrelated trial that had been scheduled had already been dismissed. This action by the Judges in my county is akin to what’s going on with the FBI and other top governmental agencies in this nation. It’s apparently excusable on a smaller scale and disgusts me to no end.

          • Bill

            You’re incorrect on every count, Michael.

            Jury nullification is a right that stretches back to the beginning of American jurisprudence. It was well known in early years. If you can still find books on the subject, please read them.

            Others who replied to your misinformed comment are correct.

      • Highwayman

        Michael, you would make an excellent nazi and you have zero understanding of the implications of this verdict or the Constitution.

  • phicrappazappa

    Influencing a jury and giving them knowledge necessary to be an informed and honest juror are no where near the same. But you can’t expect a “judge” to have his legitimacy as well as the “law” questioned. “Justice” is for “Just-us”. the truth about the law . com

  • Raymond

    The judges in this case need to be impeached. Clearly a first amendment case. The Juror’s Handbook merely states our rights and contains a copy of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Most judges don’t want it anywhere near their court. “One juror has more power than a thousand judges”. If more citizens knew about JURY NULLIFICATION, we would see less non-sense in the courts, such as homeowners being in more trouble than their attackers, just for defending themselves.

    • Steven

      The prosecutor as well. He is absolutely misinformed and just looking for a conviction. He has forgotten that his FIRST priority is to make sure that THE PEOPLE are protected.

  • Paul Harvster

    “So what we have here is speech that had an end and an intent other than making a speech” WHAT? You only have free speech IF your just speaking to make a speech? You can’t have a purpose.
    This prosecutor is ATTACKING the First Amendment… and the Judge is going along with it. TREASONOUS!