A Denver man has been charged with multiple felonies after he was caught distributing fliers to educate potential jurors about the practice of “jury nullification.”
The Denver Post reported that 56-year-old Mark Iannicelli set up a small booth with a sign reading “Juror Info” outside the Lindsay-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver last week. The Denver District Attorney’s Office charged Iannicelli with seven counts of jury tampering after members of the jury pool were found to be in possession of fliers describing jury nullification.
Jury nullification allows juries to acquit a defendant who they may believe is guilty if they also believe that the law is unjust. The practice has been used by juries in the United States since the 1800s to nullify anti-free speech laws and laws punishing northerners for helping runaway slaves. It has most recently been used in drug cases when juries have viewed laws as discriminatory.
A copy of the criminal complaint obtained by Kirsten Tynan of the Fully Informed Jury Association says that Iannicelli “unlawfully and feloniously attempted directly and indirectly to communicate with” seven jurors.
A probable cause statement added that Iannicelli was accused of “handing out information to potential jurors.”
Tynan pointed out that the complaint “does not accuse Mr. Iannicelli of advocating for or against any case in progress” and “it does not accuse Mr. Iannicelli even of targeting individuals for sharing information with them.”
“The charges don’t discuss specifically what Mr. Iannicelli is accused of doing, but rather seem to regurgitate the language of the statute which he is accused of violating (C.R.S. 18-8-609 for all counts) and then claim that he violated it,” Tynan wrote.
“I see nothing in the Statement of Probable Cause substantiating these accusations.” Tynan continued. “The charges allege that Mr. Iannicelli acted ‘with intent to influence a juror’s vote, opinion, decision, and action in a case’, but nowhere in the Statement of Probable Cause do I see anything that indicates such.”
“Nothing I have heard from any of the local people who saw the arrest and/or know Mr. Iannicelli indicates that he was doing anything other than fully informing people about all the options jurors have.”
Iannicelli was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. His next court date is scheduled for Aug. 11.