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News Link • Criminal Justice System

Billboard advocating jury nullification concerns local prosecutors


The illuminated billboard in the Judiciary Square Metro station near the F Street entrance was strategically placed.

Prospective jurors who take the subway to D.C. Superior Court and exit near the National Building Museum see these words: “Good jurors nullify bad laws” and “You have the right to ‘hang’ the jury with your vote if you cannot agree with other jurors.”

Since the billboard went up this month, District prosecutors have been worried that the message could sway their cases. In the past week alone, they have asked judges in three ­cases to ensure that jurors had neither seen nor been influenced by the billboard.

The billboard is part of a growing national campaign to encourage jurors who disagree with a law, or think a punishment is too harsh, to vote for acquittal. Kirsten Tynan of the Montana-based Fully Informed Jury Association, whose name and Web address is included on the billboard, said the nonprofit group generally challenges crimes it calls “victimless,” such as vandalism by graffiti or gun possession.

James Babb, a Philadelphia-based graphics artist who organized a fundraising campaign to put up the billboard, said he raised $3,000 in about a week through Facebook and other ­social-media sites. He said he is concerned about laws that he thinks are too restrictive.

“People are going to jail for weed,” Babb said. “Things are getting so weird. There needs to be this final safeguard to protect us from a tyrannical government.”

Babb’s group has added a similar message on two pillars in Archives station, another Metro stop near the courthouse. Both displays are scheduled to be up for about a month. Babb said he also plans to place signs in other cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.


1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ed Price
Entered on:

This is so insightful. The prosecutors are showing us that they don't care about justice. They only care about winning. They are, also, showing us that if we inform the whole nation about jury nullification, that we just might start to get justice from our peers on the jury.

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