Mecosta County District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic is a former career prosecutor, like all righteous judges, and knows the purpose of jurors: to convict like they're told.
So when Keith Wood — a wild-eyed former pastor and current lawless anarchist — began distributing seditious incitement to destroy the judicial system, Judge Peter Jaklevic knew just what to do: arrest him.
A 39-year-old former pastor was arrested and jailed in Mecosta County after he handed out fliers informing people about jury nullification in front of the county courthouse.
Keith Wood said he was handing out pamphlets from the Fully Informed Jury Association on Nov. 24 while standing on the sidewalks along Elm Street.
The Fully Informed Jury Association, and idea-terrorists of its ilk, promote the dangerous notion that Americans selected for jurors have a right — even an obligation — not just to follow the orders of judges, but to exercise their conscience and judgment in evaluating the state's exercise of power over individuals. Such incendiary nonsense threatens the very premise of our justice system, which is that jurors will act as obedient foot soldiers in the government's glorious and righteous efforts like the Great War on Drugs.
So Woods had to be stopped. But let nobody say that Judge Peter Jaklevic lacks proportion and mercy. He repeatedly sent intermediaries to Woods to bring him unto Jaklevic's presence.
A little while later, a court deputy came outside and told Wood that the judge wanted to talk to him, and if he refused to do so, the Big Rapids police would come and arrest him.
Woods refused Jaklevic's summons three times, just as Peter denied Christ three times. The hubris!
So Jaklevic ordered Woods arrested. Woods spent 12 hours in jail until he met the $150,000 bond — which he did by putting $15,000 on a credit card to pay a bail bondsman. Even if he's acquitted or the charges are dismissed he won't get that money back. Freedom is expensive.
Now, just as Woods denied Judge Jaklevic three times, Pharisee lawyers might deny Judge Jaklevic's right to rule. They might say that courts have only upheld restrictions on distribution of jury nullification information inside courthouses or in other fora where the government has a right to restrict speech. See, e.g., Braun v. Baldwin, 346 F.3d 761, 763 (7th Cir. 2003). They might insist that multiple courts have struck down purported limits on distribution of jury nullification information in public places like streets, and have narrowed restrictions on "jury tampering" to situations where defendants targeted people they knew to be on particular juries. See, e.g., United States v. Heicklen, 858 F. Supp. 2d 256, 275 (S.D.N.Y. 2012); Verlo v. City & Cty. of Denver, Colorado, No. 15-CV-1775-WJM-MJW, 2015 WL 5012919 (D. Colo. Aug. 25, 2015). They might say that a citizen standing on a public street handing out literature arguing about a core civic function, not directed at any particular judicial proceeding, is core free speech protected by the First Amendment.
But this legalism obstructs justice. We all know what justice is: it's when jurors convict the person the government has accused of a crime. That's the proper function of a jury in America. Everything else is dross. Woods threatened to disrupt that function. How could Jaklevic let that pass?
Let's all take a moment to thank Judge Peter Jaklevic for reminding us what the justice system is about: doing what he and other prosecutors say we should.
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