Is it Jury Tampering to Inform a Jury of Their Rights in Michigan? (Pt 1)

It all started because an Amish farmer drained part of a swamp on land he already owned…

This is, believe it or not, a rather complex question with more at stake than you’d realize. In fact, a recent case that the Michigan Court of Appeals decided does a great job of making it clear just how “muddy” the waters can get when you’re dealing with jury rights, and jury tampering here in the Mitten state.

It all started with an Amish farm…

Back in 2015, Keith Woods heard about a case that was happening in his county that he found very interesting. An Amish man was being charged for draining wetlands on his farm. Woods followed the case with interest, and sympathized with the farmer who was headed to trial. In the end, the case never went to trial and Andy Yoder too a plea agreement. But that didn’t end Woods interest in the case.

Woods decided to make sure the jury was informed…

On the day that jury selection for the trial was scheduled to begin, Woods arrived at the Mecosta County Courthouse with printed pamphlets full of information about the rights of a juror. Specifically, a juror’s right to vote their conscience. Not sure what that means? It’s simple: When you’re selected to sit on a jury, you have the right to vote according to your conscience, which means that you may vote according to what you personally belief to be right and true. Lawyers called this “jury nullification”.

Jury rights can be sort of confusing…

The idea that jurors can vote according to their own conscience is often perceived as flying in the face of what most judges tell juries at the beginning of a criminal trial (which is to only consider the facts and the law based only on what the judge instructs them). So are they contradictory? Are you supposed to vote according to your own conscience, or are you supposed to only allow the presented facts to inform your vote? Ahhhh, but that’s the million dollar question.

Woods paid a high price for his decision…

As people arrived at the court on the day that jury selection was scheduled to start, Woods handed them pamphlets and spoke to a couple of people who were arriving for jury duty. Technically, all of the information that Woods was sharing outside the courthouse was legal and correct. And technically jurors are supposed to be informed of their rights (by the judge). But because he chose to inform those particular jurors, on that particular day, at that particular time, it was perceived as his attempt to influence the jurors.

How do you ensure you get a fair trial?

If you’re accused of a crime here in Michigan, and you end up going to trial, there are many aspects of the process that will be out of your hands completely. It’s complex, it’s confusing and it’s difficult. But there’s one thing you can control – your attorney! Calling 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) will ensure that, no matter the time of day or night, within minutes you’ll be speaking to an aggressive, trusted and skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate this turbulent process. Want to know more about jury rights in Michigan and what happened to Mr. Woods? Join us next time!

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