Case Dismissed

A federal judge ordered the dismissal on Thursday of an indictment against a retired chemistry professor who had been charged with jury tampering for advocating the controversial position known as jury nullification while standing on a plaza outside the United States Courthouse in Manhattan.

The former professor, Julian P. Heicklen, had stood outside the courthouse holding a “Jury Info” sign and handing out brochures that advocated nullification, in which jurors who disagree with a law ignore their oaths and vote to acquit a defendant accused of violating it.

The judge, Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court, wrote in a 27-page opinion that a person violated the jury tampering statute only when he knowingly tried to influence a juror’s action or decision by means of a written communication made in relation to “a specific case pending before that juror.”

The judge wrote that she would not “stretch the interpretation” of the statute to cover speech that was “not meant to influence” a juror’s actions in a specific case.

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