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Author Topic: FIJA: Prosecutors Coerce Defendants to Forfeit Right to Trial by Jury  (Read 2006 times)

Basil Fishbone

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----- Original Message -----
From: Kirsten
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 2:33 PM
Subject: FIJA Press Release, Please Share: Prosecutors Coerce Defendants to Forfeit Right to Trial by Jury


March 14, 2013


Prosecutors Coerce Defendants to Forfeit Right to Trial by Jury


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (406) 442-7800; aji@fija.org

Helena, MT—Elliot R. Peters, attorney for the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz, alleges prosecutorial misconduct by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Heyman in a letter submitted to the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Among the grievances he lists, Peters alleges that Heyman “appears to have abused his discretion when he attempted to coerce Mr. Swartz into foregoing his right to a trial by pleading guilty. Specifically, AUSA Heyman offered Mr. Swartz four to six months in prison for a guilty plea, while threatening to seek over seven years in prison if Mr. Swartz chose to go to trial.”

“Government employees are threatening individuals—including those who have not been found guilty, but who have only been called to trial—with additional punishment if they exercise their human right to due process of trial by jury,” said FIJA Director Iloilo Jones. “That’s a very significant and damning statement. The message from government prosecutors is that ‘If you exercise your human rights, we will punish you severely for doing so. And either way we will put shackles on you, but if you cooperate, we won’t put them on your feet, only your hands.’ We are moving from a land of Law to a land of legally sanctioned retribution by government against those who exercise their right to trial by a jury of their peers.  The message is clear: demand your right to a jury trial and be punished for your courage.”

Unfortunately, prosecutorial coercion is a common tactic used against defendants. When defendants refuse to give up their rights and protections under the law, they are often threatened with—and ultimately sentenced to—more harsh punishment than those who waive their rights and protections and cooperate with government.

This was evident in another recent case in the national spotlight—the case of Montana medical marijuana provider Chris Williams. Williams was one of the only defendants caught up in the federal government’s massive sweep of medical marijuana states who insisted on exercising his right to trial by jury. Williams, who did not accept a pre-trial plea bargain, was egregiously overcharged. He was ultimately convicted of 8 victimless offenses with a total mandatory minimum sentence of more than 80 years in prison—far more than many violent criminals such as rapists and murderers face.

Clearly the prosecutor did not consider such a harsh sentence necessary as, in a highly unusual move, he offered Williams increasingly lenient post-conviction plea agreements if Williams would waive his right to appeal. Williams finally accepted a deal under duress in which the government dropped 6 of the 8 charges against him, leaving him at risk of a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

Williams was ultimately sentenced to 5 years in prison plus time served. Two of his partners, who accepted plea bargains in exchange for testifying against Williams, were sentenced to probation with no incarceration. According to Williams’ attorney, the mean sentence for other defendants in the state who agreed to plea bargains was 18 months. Prosecuting attorney Joseph Thaggard in this case sought a much harsher sentence of 10 years for Chris Williams, citing in his sentencing recommendation memo Williams’ exercise of his Constitutionally guaranteed human right to trial by jury as evidence that Williams was not sufficiently repentant.

“Prosecutors have lost sight of their responsibility to restore justice and balance in our communities and instead focus increasingly on retribution against those who don’t cooperate, often for their own political or career advancement. FIJA encourages everyone to become fully informed about, and to reintegrate into our culture common knowledge of, the traditional role of the independent juror to refuse to enforce unjust laws and malicious prosecutions. As a juror, your vote is your veto,” said FIJA National Coordinator Kirsten Tynan. “Defendants must have a strong expectation of pleading their cases before fully informed, independent jurors who will not simply rubber stamp the conclusions to which they are led by prosecutors and judges. Prosecutorial bullying will become less effective in subverting fairness and due process as defendants’ confidence in getting a fair trial is restored.”

 
About the Fully Informed Jury Association
The Fully Informed Jury Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit association dedicated to educating the general public about their full rights, powers, and responsibilities in delivering just verdicts as trial jurors. The organization publishes and distributes educational literature and maintains a web site at FIJA.org to inform the general public of their Constitutional authority to protect human rights by refusing to enforce bad laws. FIJA encourages all jurors to consult their consciences when deliberating over a case, and to refuse to enforce any law that violates the human rights of the defendant.

 
Contact Information:
Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA)
(406) 442-7800
aji@fija.org
P.O. Box 5570
Helena, MT 59604-5570

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Re: FIJA: Prosecutors Coerce Defendants to Forfeit Right to Trial by Jury
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 12:24:22 am »

Had it done to me. "couple of grand fine, a peanuts misdemeanor charge, or they'll throw the book at you and without any of their cruiser surveillance, you're lucky to not end up a felon and you'll be lucky to have any chance at avoiding several years in prison.  Most likely less than that.  You'll also have to keep coming back until all cases are done, at your expense.  Take the plea if you want this to go away."

Hell, I had to hire a lawyer just to acquire the police report (you know, the thing which is the accusation, which you have the so called right to meet, right?)  Now I'm no racist but some of those black women working at that big city courthouse... they take "uncooperative secretary / gatekeeper" to new heights.  And no, I never met any whites except the lying scumbags who did the framing and the guys who did the fleecing.  All the intermediaries... black.  Most of the people they screw over on a daily routine are black.  They must have gotten an extra kick screwing over a "whiteboy cracka."

Oh, and when the cops set you up for some bullshit thing like "arrested for resisting arrest" in many states they won't even let you get a trial jury unless its a felony, and you will somehow be accused of headbutting an officer's boot, to say the least.  No matter what you do right or wrong, without cruiser videotape, they'll win.  Judge gets to decide.  And even if that is not the case, oftentimes the jury is stacked, (always in the bigger cities) with bobbleheaded morons, and the judge is a sadistic asshat who will likely eat your liver if given half a chance, probably with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, just like that other much more honorable psychopath than whoever "his honor" happens to be in your case.

Speaking of which, guess which option I took?  Guess which option anyone who has to earn an honest living will take?  Unless free money is raining in from donors, you will plead, and go on or try to go on with your life.

In retrospect, I have an acquaintance of sorts whose kid was turned into a felon with the stroke of a pen for drunk driving and unintentional vandalism.  This in the same county where other ADULTS "get off" with a nod and a wink or something that amounts to the same.  The kid's life is practically destroyed unless he finds underground work or moves off continent, maybe off world.  Sure, he fucked up BIG, but still, he didn't kill anyone, mostly destroyed public property (probably a bigger sin than murder, arson and rape in the eyes of the vehement "public defenders") and didn't cause any real loss of life or loss of limb.

I hear stories like his, and mine every day now.  How much longer before people stop surrendering to these assholes and just start houshining them?  I for one won't be surprised if it has already started.  Long overdue, judging by the attitudes I was witnessing years ago on the coast, and I'm even seeing that in the statist small towns of the "free" northwest.  If its gotten this fired up this far into flyover country, I imagine the coastal big cities are powderkegs just waiting for a match.

I, for one, must say I am only too happy to have moved out of those places.  Many good friends may meet their ends in those conflagrations that are only "unforseeable" to the foolish, but I chose to move away from all that evil and enjoy my hikes up the mountains and down the valleys.  I paid a dire price for it, and am still paying for it.  Do I regret not staying and not fighting that legal battle?  Sure, a little bit every time I meet another flaky setback.  I consider myself a coward.  On the other hand, I paid my "exit tax" and I exited.  Anyone framed by the JUST US system of America, should realize that you won't win without sheer video evidence (most importantly released on liveleak and youtube at the very least before the case.)  The only time these bastards back down is when the outrage is so high that their own safety becomes... tentative.  They haven't found a big enough rock yet, so they're still engaging in practical politics... "nice doggie, nice doggie..."
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Re: FIJA: Prosecutors Coerce Defendants to Forfeit Right to Trial by Jury
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 09:54:50 pm »

If it is possible, have your own surveillance video ready and available.  However, do NOT make the mistake of having only one copy; be sure to send several copies to friends and family, with instructions to post it all over the internet in the event that the judge forbids it from being entered into evidence.  Perhaps you can make an addendum video, prominently mentioning the names of the judge, prosecuting attorney, and the accusing officers.  Another thing to consider is, when the judge is about to disallow it as evidence, let him know that you have emailed copies of the video to friends and family, with the mentioning of names, although that may have risks involved that you may not want to face.  YMMV.
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Re: FIJA: Prosecutors Coerce Defendants to Forfeit Right to Trial by Jury
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 03:34:59 pm »

If it is possible, have your own surveillance video ready and available.  However, do NOT make the mistake of having only one copy; be sure to send several copies to friends and family, with instructions to post it all over the internet in the event that the judge forbids it from being entered into evidence.  Perhaps you can make an addendum video, prominently mentioning the names of the judge, prosecuting attorney, and the accusing officers.  Another thing to consider is, when the judge is about to disallow it as evidence, let him know that you have emailed copies of the video to friends and family, with the mentioning of names, although that may have risks involved that you may not want to face.  YMMV.

I was driving someone else's car at the time, so it didn't help much that I had no surveillance installed in it like I did in my own "landcraft" at the time.  Pity that.  It cost me big.
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Understeer is when you hit the wall with the front of the car and oversteer is when you hit the wall with the rear of the car.
Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall, torque is how far you take the wall with you.
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