Original Case Details
Back in November of 2015, a former pastor named Keith Wood was charged with jury tampering for handing out pamphlets that encourage jury nullification and deciding cases on feeling rather than law. Jury nullification occurs when a jury finds a defendant not guilty despite believing that the defendant is in fact guilty of the charge. This happens when a jury concludes that the charges are immoral or unjust and applying the charges to the defendant are unfair. Wood handed out his pamphlets outside a Mecosta County Courthouse on the day a jury was to be selected in a land-use case dealing with an Amish man versus the state government. The Amish man was from Stanwood and was facing charges for illegally draining a wetland. The case actually settled and never went to trial, but Wood was still convicted of attempting to influence jurors. Wood was convicted by a jury in June of 2017 and has been exhausting his every avenue of appeal since. Wood’s conviction is a misdemeanor charge that has a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Where Are We Now?
Wood has challenged his conviction since the beginning and the state Court of Appeals has determined that while handing out pamphlets to whoever would take them, he handed pamphlets to two people that were in the jury pool that day. The Court of Appeals stated that even though these two people were not technically jurors yet for any trial, they were jurors for purposes of the jury tampering statute. In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed Wood’s conviction. The Court of Appeals decision affirming Mr. Wood’s conviction has now been granted certiorari to be heard in the Michigan Supreme Court on the morning of March 4, 2020. Each side will get 30 minutes to argue whether or not Mr. Wood was guilty of jury tampering. Before these arguments, both the prosecutor and defense attorney will have filed legal briefs with detailed and researched arguments written for the Supreme Court judges to review beforehand.
Why Is This A Supreme Court Case?
The Michigan Supreme Court granted certiorari in October of 2019 to hear Wood’s case. The main issues that will be before the Supreme Court are 1) when does a person actually become a juror, and 2) was Mr. Wood denied his First Amendment right to free speech on a public sidewalk in front of the courthouse. Not every case gets to go to the Supreme Court. In actuality, very few cases actually are heard in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will only hear cases in which the issues are constitutional, or the court feels that there is a point of law that is not very clear and can be clarified. It is the Supreme Court’s decision what cases they want to hear and rule on. Supreme Court decisions are made with an eye towards clarifying and setting the boundaries of different laws. The decision in this case will not only affect Mr. Wood, this will also set the law for when a person technically becomes a juror and will set the rules for what someone can and can’t do in front of a courthouse on the day of jury selection.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one is being investigated for jury tampering or have already been charged with an offense related to jury tampering, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.