Groups support jury tampering case Court of Appeals filing

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MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich. -- Oral arguments are expected to be scheduled at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Keith Wood's jury tampering case within the next three months, as well-known organizations filed briefs to support his appeal.

Wood, a former pastor and father of eight, and his attorney David Kallman tell FOX 17 they have been fighting for Wood's First Amendment rights since he was arrested Nov. 2015. However, they were not allowed to argue on the grounds of free speech during trial.

FOX 17 broke the case when Wood was initially charged with a five-year felony and misdemeanor for obstructing justice and jury tampering, after passing out informational fliers about juror rights, which discussed jury nullification, on the public sidewalk outside the Mecosta County Courthouse. His bond was set at $150,000. That day jury selection began for another county trial, which Wood was aware of but had no stake in, though that case resolved before trial and no jury was sat. In June 2017, Wood was convicted of jury tampering.

After Wood's initial appeal was heard upholding his conviction, the Court of Appeals stayed Wood's jail sentence and agreed to hear his appeal to the state. Within the last week the ACLU, Cato Institute and Fully Informed Jury Association each filed amicus briefs to the COA in support of Wood's appeal. Kallman says it's unusual to receive three amicus briefs and from organizations spanning the political spectrum.

"Our client’s constitutional right to free speech was abridged here, it was violated," Kallman reiterated. "And we have groups from all sides of the spectrum here agreeing with us. This is a clear-cut First Amendment constitutional violation. It should never have even gotten to this point, and we’re trusting that the Court of Appeals will see it that way."

Kallman expects oral arguments to be scheduled within the next two to three months.

"The Cato brief goes into a summary of all 50 states and their jury tampering laws and how Michigan’s is different, and do a really good job of explaining that to the Court of Appeals," said Kallman. "So that is very helpful, but that’s not something we were able to do in the time constraints, or the page constraints of how much we could write."

"Now there’s no coordination between us and the ACLU, Cato, or the other group because we cannot talk with them about it or what they’re writing  or anything else," he clarified.

Stay with FOX 17 for the latest developments in Wood's case.

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