A Teaneck resident and former District 37 charged with jury tampering is seeking to have the case dismissed on First Amendment grounds, the New York Times reported Monday.
Julian P. Heicklen, 79, was indicted in February for handing out brochures outside United States Courthouse in New York City advocating jury nullification, “the controversial view that if jurors disagree with a law, they may ignore their oaths to follow it and may acquit a defendant who violated it,” the Times reported.
Federal prosecutors, however, contend advocating for jury nullification to jurors is not protected by the First Amendment, the report said, citing court papers. Heicklen targeted prospective jurors with pamphlets outside courthouses, prosecutors allege.
Heicklen, a Professor Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, under the tagline “More Freedom. Less Trenton.”
“Julian Heicklen is a well-known, if not widely known, civil rights activist. He has been arrested 34 times in civil rights demonstrations and incarcerated 11 times,” a biography on his campaign website said.
Heicklen urged jurors to make decisions based on conscience over law, according to a February New York Times article.
Prosecutors are opposing Heicklen’s request for a jury trial, the report said.