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.
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.
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.”
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.