This story was interesting. George Donnelly was arrested for handing out "Fully Informed Jury Association" (FIJA) pamphlets in front of a Federal courthouse, and also filming it.
In the USA, jury nullification comes from the ban on double jeopardy. If a jury votes to acquit, that decision cannot be appealed, even if the judge thinks the jury made a mistake. In other countries, prosecutors can appeal a "not guilty" verdict. In the re-trial, defense evidence/arguments are further restricted, ensuring a guilty verdict! However, most of the protections that jury trials and "jury nullification" offer have been nearly completely repealed.
Some freedom activists say "If you have a camera, you should get one that automatically uploads to the Internet as you film. That provides protection, if State thugs seize your camera." The State thugs probably won't notice you're uploading the film. They almost definitely won't notice until after you've made backup copies.
Technically, George Donnelly wasn't arrested for "handing out FIJA pamphlets". He was arrested for "resisting arrest". (That sounds like circular reasoning, doesn't it?). State thugs ordered George Donnelly to stop filming and he refused. They attempted to forcibly stop him, he resisted, and they kidnapped him. Nobody is ever arrested for "criticizing the government". State thugs always will find something else.
There are laws to prevent terrorists from filming in front of Federal buildings, to scout potential attacks. These laws are also used to arrest non-terrorists. State thugs are very hostile to being filmed. If you're a State thug, you have a cushy job. The last thing you want is a forced resignation/firing due to an unfavorable YouTube video. Therefore, State thugs are very hostile to being filmed.
On the other hand, if you're handing out FIJA pamphlets, you probably do need to film it. Then, you have evidence if State thugs lie about what happened.
I'll repeat the three important points I made before:
- The police were wrong to arrest him.
- If you have hostile body language when dealing with State thugs/bureaucrats, you're much more likely to get an unfavorable outcome.
- Even though George Donnelly was hostile, that doesn't justify what the State thugs did.
Another person pointed out a flaw in George Donnelly's reasoning. "State thugs don't have the authority to demand I do X. Therefore, I refuse a direct demand for X." The fallacy is that, when you refuse, the result will be violence, even if the State thug is technically acting outside his authority. State thugs are protected by sovereign immunity, even when they're breaking the State's own rules. It's stupid to pick a fight with a bully. Contrast this with agorism, where you avoid pointless direct confrontations.
George Donnelly is facing criminal charges for "disobeying orders", "resisting arrest", and "assaulting a State thug". Fake charges like this allow the State police to arrest anyone. If a policeman is hostile and grabs you, most people will have a default reflex of defending themselves. Then, the policeman will claim you assaulted him. Some policeman are good at acting aggressively, prompting the victim to move first.
George Donnelly is out on bail, but his bail is subject to many conditions. This link had a list.
- Bail in the amount of $50,000
- Defendant shall submit to random drug testing as directed by pretrial services
- Defendant shall undergo drug/alcohol treatment if necessary, as determined by pretrial services
- Defendant shall submit to electronic monitoring
- Defendant must obtain a land line
- Defendant may drive to food store three times per week, and must submit receipts to pretrial services, with prior approval of pretrial services
- Travel restricted to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Defendant shall surrender and/or refrain from obtaining or applying for a passport
- Defendant shall surrender and/or refrain from obtaining any firearms
- Defendant shall have no contact with co-defendants in this case, or individuals engaged in any criminal activity
- Defendant may not publicize names, images or locations of officers or release information to anyone else
Another interesting bit is that he's subject to a "gag order". He's not allowed to speak about the incident. From the point of view of the State judge, the judge is being generous. The judge is not required to allow bail at all!
If someone says "Agree to do X, or I kidnap and torture you!", then that obviously isn't a valid contract. State judges think otherwise. A judge thinks he's being generous by offering any bail at all. The defendant's freedom is restricted, even though he hasn't been convicted of a crime (yet).
Even if George Donnelly is acquitted or the charges are dropped, he still loses. He had to waste money hiring a lawyer. He had to waste time while his freedom was restricted. There's no exception in the judge's order for attending a job or interviewing for a job.
George Donnelly has started updating his blog again. George Donnelly published an update. The charges were lowered and the bail conditions were relaxed. That's another State parasite trick. Demand really harsh penalties. Then, when they demand less, it seems like they're being generous.
Another interesting bit is that George Donnelly is accused of assaulting the female thug. That makes George Donnelly seem more like the bad guy. "Only a scumbag would assault a woman!"
George Donnelly can't move to New Hampshire until the trial is over. The trial will probably take a year or longer. "Right to a speedy trial" is a lie.
He seems to be looking for a lawyer. Has he considered sui juris? That's tough, because the legal system is biased against pro se defendants. For a politically-motivated trial, sui juris might be better than hiring a lawyer. In this trial, George Donnelly probably can win just by arguing the law and the facts ("The policeman assaulted me first! The policeman didn't have the legal authority to demand I stop filming!"), in which case using a lawyer might be a good idea. In a trial for tax evasion or agorism, I'd be more likely to go sui juris, because I'd be relying on "jury nullification" more than questioning the facts.
I have no idea what I'd actually do, if State thugs kidnapped me and frivolously charged me with a crime. I might use a lawyer or I might go sui juris. I'm leaning towards pro se, but I'll decide when/if it happens. When I get more serious about freedom activism and practical agorism, I'm more likely to be assaulted by State thugs.
I'm not supporting what the police did. However, when dealing with a bully who has superior resources, you have to choose your tactics carefully. George Donnelly seems to escalate confrontations with State thugs.
If I was going to spend time and money promoting freedom, there's a lot better things to do than defending yourself from frivolous criminal charges. Even though George Donnelly was technically right, it's still a huge waste of his time and energy.
Let's review the situation:
amount of inconvenience to George Donnelly: a lot
amount of inconvenience to State thugs/bureaucrats: zero
The police are probably congratulating each other, for silencing that fruitcake who open-carries and supports jury nullification. They're probably saying to each other "HAHAHA!!! I really taught that scumbag libertarian a lesson!" The police get paid for their efforts via taxation/theft. George Donnelly must spend money hiring a lawyer, along with the stress of a frivolous trial. State thugs believe "Libertarians, FIJA advocates, Ron Paul supporters, and open-carriers are subversive and dangerous."
On the other hand, the State is wasting resources prosecuting George Donnelly. That's resources not spent harassing someone else. The state has virtually unlimited resources, but not completely unlimited resources. If the cost to you is $50k but the cost to the State is $1M, that's still probably a net gain for the State. Less than 5% of the population is promoting freedom. The State has so many resources that State thugs can afford to harass freedom activists. Via an "electronic monitoring bracelet", State thugs restrict George Donnelly's freedom without paying the cost of actually jailing him.
George Donnelly was previously frivolously arrested for open-carrying. He's probably already on a "subversive persons" list. That might be the reason he was singled out for harsher treatment, compared to the others. State thugs might have already IDed George Donnelly, before they came to assault him.
George Donnelly might be acquitted. However, he might be convicted. The police will testily, saying how dangerous George Donnelly is.
A State criminal trial is really a crapshoot. George Donnelly probably won't be allowed to say he was performing jury nullification activism. George Donnelly probably won't be allowed to say he was peacefully filming his activism. His videotape will probably not be admitted as evidence. If George Donnelly isn't sufficiently deferential to the State judge, then he might be jailed for "contempt of court". There are many ways that the judge can bias the trial against George Donnelly.
Did George Donnelly hire a lawyer? Is he representing himself sui juris? I don't know what I'd do, if I were facing frivolous criminal charges. In many ways, a defense attorney is an assistant prosecutor. I'd probably represent myself, but I'm not sure. The State legal system is very biased against people who choose to represent themselves. In this specific case, a lawyer might be beneficial.
Handing out FIJA pamphlets seems like the wrong approach. I'd only do it if I knew someone who had been frivolously charged with a crime. In that case, a corrupt judge will accuse you of "jury tampering". The judge would exclude anyone who read and understood the FIJA pamphlet. In some parts of New Hampshire, there are people who hand out FIJA pamphlets at *EVERY* jury selection day.
I get paid a decent salary in my wage slave job. I'm taking a day off work just to help out some stranger with FIJA pamphleting? It'd be even more time wasted if I get frivolously arrested.
I recently served jury duty in NYC (state court, not Federal). There were armed thugs stationed by the entrance, presumably to arrest FIJA pamphleters. There were armed thugs on most of the corners near the courthouse. I'd only risk an arrest if there was a specific person I wanted to help. Otherwise, there are other ways to promote freedom. For example, I could hand out FIJA pamphlets in Times Square, instead of in front of a courthouse. That would probably reach more people per hour of time spent.
Suppose you're a juror who understands jury nullification. You'd probably have to lie during jury selection, just to get picked for the jury. During jury deliberations, the other jurors may complain to the judge, if you tell them you want to nullify.
Judges have removed nullifying jurors, even after the jury started deliberating! If you quietly hold out, the jury will be hung. Even if you explain the truth to the other jurors, you still may not convince them. If there's a hung jury, then the prosecutors get a mulligan and may try again! In the next trial, the judge and prosecutor will be more careful to remove jurors who will give the "incorrect" verdict. If there's a previous hung jury, the defense is usually barred from mentioning this!
If you understand jury nullification, your options for helping other State victims are limited. You probably won't be selected for the jury. If you do attempt to nullify, you probably won't be able to help the victim, unless you can get a unanimous "not guilty" vote. Besides, who wants to waste several weeks helping a complete stranger, even if you do feel strongly about the issue? It's hard to spend $5k+ helping out a complete stranger. In my wage slave job, I don't get paid my salary while serving on a jury; that's a pretty severe personal financial sacrifice.
What if you're the defendant? If you hire a State-licensed attorney, the judge will probably bar him from presenting a jury nullification defense. If your lawyer ignores the judge's orders, he will get hit with "contempt of court" and forfeit his law license. If you represent yourself sui juris, and attempt to mention jury nullification, then the judge might jail you for "contempt of court".
It's tricky. If I'm a high-profile freedom activist, I'm more likely to be assaulted by State thugs. If I attempt practical agorism and am successful, then I'm an even bigger target.
"Trial by jury" used to be a reasonable check against abuse of State power. Now, juries are usually a rubberstamp for the judge and prosecutor.
The trend may be reversing. Due to increasing State aggression, allegedly more and more juries are nullifying. There may already be a partial backlash against abuse of State power.
When I was serving on jury duty, I surveyed the other people. I was thinking "Could I get 12 of these people to vote 'not guilty'.", in an agorism-related trial. I thought "yes". "What if it was 12 people hand-picked by the prosecutor?" The answer still seemed to be "yes", but I wasn't as sure.
Here's a partial list of all the ways "trial by jury" was eroded, since the Constitution was first written. (Maybe I should make this list a separate post?)
- "The right to representation by an attorney" was repealed by the State licensing cartel for lawyers. The licensing cartel for lawyers restricts supply and drives up prices. A lawyer is expensive. Frivolous criminal charges will bankrupt most middle-class families. The legal bill would be $25k-$50k or more.
- The State licensing cartel enables judges to censor lawyers. What lawyer will risk his career, just to help out some poor schmuck? If the lawyer disobeys the judge's orders, then the judge will fine him for "contempt of court" and revoke his law license. If the judge says "The defense lawyer is barred from mentioning X during the trial!", then the lawyer must obey or he forfeits his law license. A law license costs $200k+ plus several years. What lawyer would risk that?
- Originally, trial by jury was "12 people who personally knew the defendant". You should only convict someone of a crime if people who personally knew you would vote "guilty".
- "A jury of your peers" has degenerated into "12 people who are State employees or who are dumb enough to not get out of jury duty." A real jury of my peers would be "12 people who understand that government is one huge extortion racket." If necessary, I'd explain that during the trial, over the objections of the judge.
- In ancient Greece, *ANY* eligible voter could participate in a jury trial. That would be really different than the current system (and probably fairer). In Socrates' trial, almost everyone voted. A majority voted "execute Socrates", but there was no rule that a supermajority was required to execute someone.
- In Sparf vs. USA, the Supreme Court ruled that the judge was not required to remind juries of their "jury nullification" power. This was later extended to "defense attorneys are barred from mentioning 'jury nullification'". A sui juris defendant can be jailed for "contempt of court" for mentioning "jury nullification".
- I read some defense attorney blogs. They say that State judges are really cowards. They will threaten you with "contempt of court", but few actually follow through. Irwin Schiff had time added to his sentence for "contempt of court", but he may have been using "George Donnelly tactics". If necessary, I'd tell the judge "WTF? Why are you biased against me? Are you scared that, if I tell the jury what I'm thinking, they'll vote 'not guilty'?"
- Judges will remove jurors, even after they started deliberating, if they show an intent to nullify.
- If a juror asks a judge about nullification during deliberations, then the judge will explicitly lie.
- Jury instructions imply that jurors are barred from nullifying. Jury instructions imply that the juror may be punished, if he nullifies, even though a juror has *NEVER* been punished for giving a verdict the judge doesn't like. *HOWEVER*, I read that the FBI has harassed jurors who gave the "wrong" verdict in a high-profile trial.
- If you previously got a hung jury, you're barred from mentioning this during the re-trial. That rule obviously favors the prosecutors.
- "No excessive bail" has been repealed. Bail usually comes with a lot of restrictions, in addition to merely placing a deposit to ensure you show up for the trial. Combined with trials that take a year or longer, bail restrictions take away the defendant's freedom.
- In Shannon vs. USA, the Supreme Court ruled that defense attorneys are barred from explaining to jurors the sentence, if they vote "guilty". By withholding sentencing information from jurors, this allows people to be given long sentences for seemingly harmless crimes. Many jurors have said "I wouldn't have voted 'guilty', if I knew he would go to jail for so long." Unfortunately, appeals courts don't accept such arguments as valid.
- As I mentioned in "Censorship of Justice", it's immoral to restrict what evidence that the defense may present or what arguments he may make. A general principle of criminal jury trials is "Information favorable to the defendant is banned. The prosecutor has no restrictions."
- The practice of "voir dire" was introduced before the US Civil War, to prevent jury nullification of Federal fugitive slave laws. "Voir dire" is the practice of questioning jurors, and screening out those who might vote "not guilty". Jurors biased in favor of the defendant are excluded. Jurors biased in favor of the prosecutor are allowed.
- A juror who understands jury nullification probably has to lie during jury selection, just to get selected. Actually, I realized that you don't have to lie. If a judge asks you "Will you follow my interpretation of the law?", you can honestly answer "yes"; you don't have to mention that you know that jury nullification is also a law. If a judge asks you "Should marijuana be legalized?", you can answer "I'm not sure."
- The right to a speedy trial has been repealed. When the Constitution was ratified, "speedy trial" meant "a week or two". A long delay between the arrest and trial extracts a toll from the defendant, even if acquitted. Your life is interrupted until the trial is over.
- If the defendant is held without bail for months, he starts acting like a caged rat. Your body language changes due to the stress of the trial. This makes the jury more likely to vote "guilty". Even if out on bail, the psychological toll of the extended trial process exhausts the defendant. Many defendants accept a plea, just to limit the stress on themselves and their families.
- In addition to jury nullification, jurors used to be allowed to hear arguments regarding what the law actually is. In the present, arguments regarding law are made before the trial, in front of the judge. The judge presents the law as a settled, uncontroversial fact. The jurors are asked to accept the judge's interpretation of the law without questioning it. For example, in a "possession of marijuana" trial, the defense attorney is barred from saying "Does the Constitution really authorize the Federal government to criminalize possession of marijuana?"
- One defense attorney blogger wrote "Innocent until proven guilty is a farce. The only defendants who get acquitted are the ones who overcome the presumption of guilt built into the system."
- The judge works for the government. The prosecutor works for the government. They're on the same team. In a criminal trial, especially regarding taxation or statutory crime, you aren't going to get a fair trial in a State court.
- If the prosecutor does a good job, "getting promoted" usually means "getting appointed as a judge". Most judges are ex-prosecutors.
- "Protection from unreasonable search and seizure" is a lie. Judges rubberstamp search warrants for anything. Under the Patriot Act, FBI agents can sometimes write their own search warrants. "Unreasonable" is defined by State insiders. By modern statist standards, every search is reasonable. "If you're not a criminal, then you have nothing to hide!" contradicts "Videotaping the police is a crime!"
- When State thugs seize your records, they can go on a fishing expedition. They will fabricate charges unrelated to the original reason for the investigation. The law is so complicated that anyone can be accused of a crime, if State thugs seize all your records and wiretap all your phone conversations. Nobody is ever charged with "criticizing the government". State thugs will invent another excuse to kidnap and torture you. The prosecutor will portray everything you ever said or did in the most unfavorable possible light.
- If you're operating a State-restricted business, then undercover cops will pretend to be your customer, just so they can arrest you. They might prosecute your other customers and coerce them into a plea-bargain and into testifying against you. That's economic terrorism. The USA has economic secret police.
- According to Federal sentencing guidelines, if you testify in your own defense and are convicted, that's extra time added to your sentence! You aren't required to testify, but you're penalized if you do testify!
- Most defendants plea bargain. Sentencing guidelines give an explicit credit for plea bargains. You can usually plea to a lesser offense. If it's "1 year via plea bargain, or 10 years if you go to trial and lose", then the incentive is to accept the plea bargain. In effect, abusive plea bargain rules repeal trial by jury. One criminal defense lawyer blogger wrote "One client spent most of his adult life in jail for several felony convictions. All were plea bargains. He never went to trial! I'm such a great lawyer. I got him a plea bargain for 10 years, instead of 35 for going to trial and losing." (The victim was accused of selling crack.)
- Prosecutors pile on charges. They'll charge you with a separate crime for multiple instances of the same action. Juries might convict on all counts, and then the sentencing judge imposes a year for each count, *SERVED CONSECUTIVELY*.
- Even if you accept a plea bargain, the judge has the discretion to impose a tougher sentence than what the plea agreement says.
- Judges that are sympathetic to defendants generally cannot advance their career. This story was interesting. In a drug dealer trial (not a real crime), the judge excluded the prosecution's evidence, and an appeals court removed the judge during the trial! It's a bad career move for a judge to be fair to defendants. (It seems that the judge worked with that prosecutor in the past, and knew that he had questionable ethics.)
- Many jurors think "If he's wrongly convicted, an appeals court will reverse it." The existence of appeals courts gives jurors an excuse to not hold out for acquittal. If the appeals court thinks the defendant is guilty anyway, then they won't overturn a guilty verdict, even if the judge made a mistake. Appeals judges are usually even worse pro-State trolls than trial judges.
- If you're employed by the State, then you get full salary and benefits while on a jury. Therefore, State employees have an incentive to hold out and vote "guilty". If you work in the productive sector of the economy, then you don't get paid during a trial. Your coworkers are disadvantaged. A productive worker has a financial disincentive to hold out and hang a jury; a State employee has a financial incentive to hold out and vote guilty. The productive worker will change his vote to "guilty", just so he can be released from "juror prison" and go back to his normal life.
- Many jurors falsely believe "If it's a bad law, then the Supreme Court would have overturned it."
- "Protection from double jeopardy" is a lie. The most common trick is "One trial in state court and one trial in Federal court." Even for the exact same action, you can have separate trials in State and Federal courts, because it's technically separate laws. There can be multiple trials for seemingly unrelated issues. For example, you can be prosecuted based on your 2006 tax return. After acquittal, there's a separate trial for your 2007 tax return.
- Most people are brainwashed slaves. They are conditioned to accept authority figures without questioning them. The psychological setup of a courtroom is similar to that of a church or school.
- The mainstream media publishes high-profile criminal trials where the defendant is eventually convicted. This reinforces the presumption that everyone is guilty.
The fact that State thugs censor jury nullification is evidence that it's an important idea!
It isn't worth risking your personal freedom, just to hand out FIJA pamphlets in front of a courthouse. I have a job. It's a financial waste for me to take time off work to hand out FIJA pamphlets. It's an even bigger financial waste if I get arrested.
If you take a hostile approach when dealing with State thugs, you're more likely to get an unfavorable outcome. The State is an extortion racket. You should be careful when dealing with a bully who has virtually unlimited resources. Members of a criminal gang protect their turf. If you get into a dispute with one State thug, then the others will close ranks and defend the other State thug.
George Donnelly seems to intentionally escalate direct confrontations with State thugs. I prefer avoiding direct confrontation. I'm going to try practical agorism eventually. More people seem to be gaining awareness of State evil, making agorism much less risky in a few years.
George Donnelly has this fantasy that State thugs will obey their own rules. Why should they? They are protected by sovereign immunity. If you assert your rights when State thugs confront you, then the confrontation will escalate, even if you're technically right. State thugs can always find something else to charge you with. George Donnelly isn't accused of "handing out FIJA pamphlets and filming it", which is his real crime. George Donnelly is accused of assaulting a female State thug. The prosecutor will say "Only a bully would assault a woman."
George Donnelly may have already been on the State's "subversive persons" list. After his arrest, the State thugs almost definitely looked up the record of his previous "open carry" confrontations. The State thugs may have identified and targeted him, even before they assaulted him.
Resisting the State is a good idea. Given the State's superior resources, you have to choose your tactics wisely. That's why I like agorism. You resist the State and show a profit at the same time! An agorist wouldn't confront State thugs on their own turf in front of a courthouse, unless he was trying to help someone specific. An agorist would try to operate secretly, and then make the State thugs come after him. Playing defense is easier than offense.
In this incident, the State thugs were violating their own rules. George Donnelly wasn't arrested for "Handing out FIJA pamphlets." State thugs found another excuse to prosecute him. You need to use proper tactics, when dealing with the State. State thugs have far superior resources compared to you. When nearly everyone is a brainwashed slave, State thugs can afford to spend vast resources silencing the occasional person who knows it's a scam.