On Monday, January 31, 2011, in Orlando, Florida, Chief Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. made an administrative order shutting down the freedom of speech at the Orange County courthouse. The order basically says that you cannot assert your First Amendment right to inform people about their rights when they serve on a jury. What the judge is doing here is stopping individuals from being educated on their rights not only to judge the facts of the case but the law itself. This is being done out of pure disrespect of the idea of government “of, by, and for the people”.
The people have the right to be educated on their rights when they serve on a jury. This judge is denying them of their rights, because the justice system has become corrupt.
This judge swore an oath to support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida. By making this administrative order he has broken his oath.
“The Public Forum.–In 1895 while he was a member of the highest court of Massachusetts, Justice Holmes rejected a contention that public property was by right open to the public as a place where the right of speech could be recognized, a rejection endorsed in its rationale on review by the United States Supreme Court. This point of view was rejected by the Court in Hague v. CIO, where Justice Roberts wrote: ”Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens.” While this opinion was not itself joined by a majority of the Justices, the view was subsequently endorsed by the Court in several opinions.” ~ Cornell University Law School, FIRST AMENDMENT RELIGION AND EXPRESSION FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION—SPEECH AND PRESS
The sidewalks, streets, parks and public areas are all traditional forums, the government cannot deny the public access to a traditional public forum nor can it regulate use of the forum based on the content of one’s speech. Perry Education Ass’n v. Perry Local Educators’ Ass’n, 460 U.S. 37, 45 (1983).
Are the courthouse and its grounds a PUBLIC PLACE? The courthouse is a public place; therefore, one would say that it is in fact a traditional public forum. It is just like the sidewalks, streets, parks and other public areas. The judge does not have the authority to squelch our First Amendment right to freedom of speech at a traditional public forum.
I also ask: Who pays for the courthouse, the grounds and the people that work in it? The very people that this judge is now silencing.
This order is not only a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but also a violation of Article 1, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution restricts what the government can do to its citizens when it comes to freedom of speech. Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. is discriminating on the basis of content or viewpoint in according access to the courthouse grounds.
In this administrative order, the judge, in order to prove that is administrative order for expressive conduct towards summoned jurors is justified, cites Nobles v. State, 769 So. 2d 1063 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000). This case has nothing to do with freedom of speech and passing out brochures on jury nullification on the courthouse grounds to the general public. This case is about a defendant allegedly approaching a prospective jury and asking them to find him not guilty.
“Based on these facts, the state charged the defendant with jury tampering in violation of section 918.12, Florida Statutes. When this charge proceeded to trial, Sherri Jones was the principal witness for the state. Jones gave an account of her conversation with the defendant in the convenience store, and testified that she felt as though the defendant was threatening her.
At the close of the state’s case, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal on the ground that the evidence of his encounter with Sherri Jones was insufficient to support a conviction for jury tampering. He argued that he could not be convicted of threatening a juror, because Jones never served as a juror in his case. This argument was rejected. The trial court concluded that the crime of jury tampering can be proven by evidence that a defendant attempted to influence a prospective juror. Defense witnesses contested Sherri Jones’ version of her encounter with the defendant in the convenience store, but the jury found the defendant guy as charged. Following his sentencing, the defendant filed a timely notice of appeal to this court. ~ Google Scholar, Nobles v. State, 769 So. 2d 1063 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2000
I would also like to point out that Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., has not or does not understand what part nullification has played for black people in history. If he did, then he would understand that had it not been for nullification he may not be serving as a judge today.
The Fugitive Slave Law
Until the middle of the 1800s, federal and state judges often instructed the juries they had the right to disregard the court’s view of the law. (Barkan, citing 52 Harvard Law Review, 682-616) Then northern jurors refused to convict abolitionists who had violated the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. In response judges began questioning jurors to find out if they were prejudiced against the government, dismissing any who were. In 1852 Lysander Spooner, a Massachusetts lawyer and champion of individual liberties, complained “that courts have repeatedly questioned jurors to ascertain whether they were prejudiced against the government. . . . The reason of this . . . was that ‘the Fugitive Slave Law, so called’ was so obnoxious to a large portion of the people, as to render a conviction under it hopeless, if the jurors were taken indiscriminately from among the people.” Modern treatments of abolitionism praise these jury nullification verdicts for helping the anti-slavery cause – rather than condemn them for undermining the rule of law and the uniformity of justice.” ~ International Society for Individual Liberty, A HISTORY OF JURY NULLIFICATION
Again, this order shows the corruption of the court system. It is obvious that this judge does not want the people who will one day serve on a jury to know, that they have a right to vote with their consciences of their own and judge not only the facts of the case, but the law itself.
“Liberty exists only among reasoning people who are tolerant of human diversity. Tyranny thrives on intolerance. Conscientious jurors defend liberty when they refuse to convict fellow citizens maliciously accused of crimes. Reasoning jurors stopped the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and freed tax protesters after the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Juries refused to convict under the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, during Prohibition 1920-30, Vietnam War objectors, tax protesters, medical marijuana users, peaceful gun owners, and others.” ~ FIJA Brochure, Who Owns Your Body?
The last peaceful defense of our liberties is the jury. Please donate to FIJA to help fight against this corruption. Help FIJA restore Liberty & Justice for All!
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