‘I was speechless’ — Man charged with felony for passing out jury rights fliers in front of courthouse

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MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich. — A Michigan man is charged with a felony for obstruction of justice and misdemeanor of tampering with a jury for passing out fliers about jury nullification rights on the sidewalk of the Mecosta County courthouse.

Keith Wood, 39, faces charges after handing out 50 fliers on Nov. 24, which describe juror rights that are typically not given by judges during jury instructions before a trial.

Wood's Attorney Dave Kallman told WXIN the charges are "outrageous," especially after Wood posted bond set at $150,000 last Tuesday. Obstruction of justice is a five-year felony with up to $10,000 in fines, and attempting to influence jurors is a one-year misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000.

“When he (the Judge) told me the bond, again I was speechless," said Wood. "$150,000 bond for handing out a piece of paper on a public sidewalk? Speechless.”

Wood said he charged $15,000 to his credit card to post bond. Kallman said he will fight for all of Wood's bond to be returned, and called these charges an attack on free speech.

“It’s just a blatant illegal and improper use of government power to squelch a person’s Constitutional rights of free speech, that’s what this is,” said Kallman. "There has to be push-back, and judges and prosecutors and people need to know: you cannot squelch people’s free speech rights and get away with it."

Wood said he was motivated to educate the public on jury rights knowing of an upcoming Mecosta County trial.

"It's not illegal to fully inform jurors, it's just that judges don't do it anymore, " said Wood. "To me, I just feel like the justice system would be much better off, and we the people would be much better off if jurors were fully informed again."

The pamphlets Wood handed out specifically discuss jurors' right to vote their conscience, also known as jury nullification of law. Jury nullification occurs when a jury acquits a defendant, despite evidence, because they either believe the law is immoral or wrongfully applied. However, since the late 1800's many judges have omitted jury nullification from their jury instructions, though Kallman said it is implied.

“It’s implied, it’s not overt," said Kallman. "This is more overt, and I understand why the judge doesn’t like it okay, but isn’t that part of free speech? You allow speech you don’t like."

Kallman said this is a violation of Constitutional rights including freedom of speech.

“It’s free speech for goodness sake,” said Kallman. “The Judge directly ordered him to be arrested for jury tampering, for tampering with a jury that didn’t exist, now wrap your head around that.”

Back on Nov. 24, Wood said the magistrate, then other court personnel and deputy, came outside three times, asking him to come into the courthouse because the judge wanted to speak with him. Wood said the third time personnel came outside a deputy threatened to call Big Rapids Police to arrest him. At that point, Wood went inside to speak with the judge, but was told he was not being detained.

“She (courthouse personnel) wasn’t being rough but she was kind of corralling me and she was touching my jacket, and so I asked her again, I said, “Am I being detained?” And she goes, ‘No,’” described Wood.

“Judge Jaklevic came out of his chambers, he looked at me, he looked down the hall, I didn’t know who he was looking at, and then he looked back towards me and the deputy and he said, ‘Arrest him for jury tampering,'" said Wood.

WXIN called the office of Mecosta County District Judge Peter Jaklevic, also the former county prosecutor; his office declined comment. The news station also called the Mecosta County Prosecutor's Office, and has yet to hear back.

Wood refused to take a plea deal Tuesday morning and his preliminary hearing is set for next Tuesday. He and Kallman want his charges dropped and are deciding whether to pursue a federal lawsuit.

"I truly believe in my heart of hearts I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t break the law, so they need to drop all of the charges against me," said Wood.

21 comments

  • ERIC ANDERSON

    Judges don’t like jury nullification. They prefer juries that fat, happy and stupid. I suspect Keith Wood will win his day in court. Especially if his jury knows anything about jury nullification.

  • Dan Gray

    Sorry, but you are going to lose in court. You WERE Jury tampering. While you do have the right to free speech, you do NOT have the right to act like a judge and make false accusations or make claims. You ARE NOT the judge and you have no right to act like one even though you think it is wrong. The correct way to do this would be to get hold of the State Supreme Court disciplinary board and file a complaint. But then again since you were not the one on trial, they probably would not investigate. I already know of case like this in Ohio and it went clear up to the 6th US District Court (one step below the US Supreme Court) and they upheld the charge and conviction under the same reasoning I gave here. I mean get real…why do the judges when they sequester you, tell you point blank that you cannot read a newspaper or watch TV or listen to the radio? Because they dont want anyone tampering with you or your decision. So ignore anyone who tries to tell you that you will win, as you wont. You intentionally put yourself into this position and have no one to blame but yourself. If you would have went into the building and saw the judge when he first asked you to come in, then you would have most likely got off with a warning, but even I would have nailed you if I had to ask you three times to come see me to get you to stop.

    Its legal, you will lose and you can blame yourself for your troubles.

    • LAYTONIAN

      Yes, judges like to keep jurys fat, happy and stupid. Educating a jury is the last thing judges would ever want to do. How dare this man exercise his constitutional right to free speech!!! He needs to be taught a lesson. We wouldn’t want his lawyer mentioning it to his jury.

      • Dan Gray

        Sorry, but you have shown your ignorance on a plethora of items and have been blasted in numerous different threads like this FOR showing your ignorance. So why should anyone believe anything you have to say now? And are you going to go into a snit and start calling names like a spoiled child like you did in the last thread on Planned parenthood when you were proved wrong by six different posters including myself?

    • Just Wondering

      You’re 100% incorrect. You cannot tamper with a jury when there is no jury. There was no seated nor jury selection going on at the courthouse at the time. So where is this phantom jury he was tampering with???

      • Dan Gray

        I am 100% correct. Ask any local attorney and they will tell you the same thing. This is classified as polluting the Jury pool and it is tampering with a jury. Sorry but you are the one that is wrong. And if you dont want to ask an attorney, then go to your local library and look up jury tampering in Blacks law Library, the same books that exist in every attorneys office as well as all judges chambers and law schools.

        You really should have some knowledge of what you are talking about BEFORE you start talking

    • Brian V

      What jury did he tamper with? He was on a public sidewalk, in front of a public building. The people going in and out of the courthouse could have been jurors, lawyers, police officers or the general public. I would argue that the local news making comments about a case not yet tried would be guilty of the same level of tampering. Did he confront people he knew to be jurors? Did he seek to influence or intimidate anyone? From what I read, i don’t think he did.

      • Dan Gray

        He admitted that he targeted the people who were going into the courthouse to be in the jury pool. With that being the case he was unduly trying to effect the outcome of the jury, in legal terms…jury tampering. This is illegal in all fifty states and it is also a violation of federal law as well as two US district court decisions (there are only 12 US District Courts and they are the last step before you get to the US Supreme Court so their decisions do indeed carry weight)

        Sorry but he was in the wrong. And now he will have to pay the price.

      • Dan Gray

        18 U.S.C. 1504, prescribes the conviction of anyone who “attempts to influence the action or decision of any grand or petit juror of any court of the United States upon any issue or matter pending before such juror, or before the jury of which he is a member, or pertaining to his duties, by writing or sending to him any written communication, in relation to such issue or matter.”

        Even IF the judge dismissed it, and the dismissal was overturned on appeal, that decision only applies to her jurisdiction. NO federal judge has the right to dismiss a constitutionally passed law of the US. The ONLY people who can do this is the US Supreme Court and they can only decide if it is constitutional or not as per Article 3 Section 2 of the US Constitution.

        So please excuse me but I dont see what the relevance of your post is.

    • Brian V

      A district court judge overturns a conviction under the statute you mentioned. He was doing the exact same thing. She held that since the defendant was not seeking to influence a specific outcome, as written in the statue, he could not be guilty.

      • Dan Gray

        first, her decision was overturned on appeal, so he IS guilty.

        Second her decision is only valid in her jurisdiction, no place else.

        third I already stated this, so I have to wonder why are you making me repeat myself?

  • Apologist JD

    Time for citizen arrest of the judge? Impeachment is insufficient for such blatant corruption. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is treason, but it’s the runt little brother. This is a serious affront to the rule of law and Constitutional rights. The judge needs to spend time in a cell as a message to him and other would be petty tyrants.

  • LAYTONIAN

    Some judges suffer from an ailment known as a God Complex. They just hate jury nullification because it takes away their power, and they just can’t stand that.

      • Dan Gray

        I am confident. I live right up the street from a retired federal judge who I talk to every morning as he walks past my home for his exercise. Not to mention that when I was in the military and being processed out, I spent time over in the JAG office (Military attorneys) as a temporary aide. You dont stay around people like this and not learn something while you are there.

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